“Book Covers Catch the Art Directors Eye”

2017 SCBWI Utah Southern Idaho
Illustrator’s Conference
Any questions? email sherry@sherrymeidell.com

Click HERE to Register.

Utah/Southern Idaho SCBWI Illustration Conference
“Book Covers – Catch the Art Directors Eye”
February 18th, 2017 at the Sons of the Utah Pioneers Building, 3301 East 2920 South,. Salt Lake City, Utah

8:30 – 9:00 dried bread and water, networking, set up portfolios ($5.00 for portfolio display bring cash  if you want to participate) and grab a seat
9:00 – Welcome and announcements
9:15 – Nicki Carmack, Creative Director Peachtree Publishers in Atlanta Georgia.
10:15 – Greg Swearingen & Hala Wittwer Swearingen:
“Practical Strategies for Making Great Images Happen on a Deadline”
Their topics will include:  generating ideas, composition strategies, reference gathering, and simplifying rendering.

12:15 – lunch: hot bowl of soup and water (local art directors check out portfolios and have a bowl of soup)
1:15 – Nicki Carmack, Greg Swearingen and Hala Wittwer
First Look Critique of middle grade novel covers from us illustrators
2:15 –  Illustrator to Illustrator
2:45 – 3:30 Panel: Nicki Carmack, Greg Swearingen and Hala Wittwer Swearingen

Nicki Carmack Creative Director from Peachtree Publishers will be doing a limited number of 10 minute Portfolio reviews. The fee is $45.00 Email sherry@sherrymeidell.com to get info on paying and signing up for the Portfolio reviews.

There will be a Portfolio display again this year. Notify Manelle Olipant at illustration@manelleoliphant.com if you have any questions and bring $5.00 the day of the conference to participate. The portfolios will be viewed by local art directors and Nicki Carmack from Peachtree. You need to be registered for the conference to participate in the Portfolio Display.

(Portfolios should be no larger than 11 x 14, bound portfolios with 15 images max -no original art-one set of contact information card such as postcard or business card) No digital portfolios. You can attach one or two book dummies to the portfolio attached with a string.
If you have published books they can be displayed on our published books table.

Go to http://utahsouthidaho.scbwi.org to register – go down to upcoming events and click on Illustrators Conference. That will take you to the registration page.
Early Bird Prices Register before January 23, 2016:
SCBWI Members: $60.00
Students: $65.00
General Public $75.00
Portfolio Display $5.00 (bring cash the day of the conference)
Register after January 15, 2015
SCBWI Members $70.00
Students: $75.00
General Public $85.00
Portfolio Display $5.00 (bring cash the day of the conference)


Nicki Carmack

Nicki Carmack graduated from the University of Brighton, England with a degree in Visual Communications in 1987.

Her design career started in the field of financial marketing, but she soon discovered a love for book design, and worked for Dorling Kindersley in London.

In 1992 Nicki moved to the United States and returned to the financial industry as a senior graphic designer, and ultimately creative director for Harland Clarke. However, she still loved the creative process of publishing design, and discovered Peachtree Publishers in Atlanta. Nicki worked as a contract designer for Peachtree for some a number of years, and was taken on as creative director when she left her corporate role in 2012. Her responsibilities include creative development of everything from picture books to young adult titles, advertising, marketing collateral, catalogs and tradeshow graphics.”


Greg Swearingen, Illustrator
Greg Swearingen has been illustrating professionally since 1998. He has created book covers for Harper Collins, Scholastic, Random House, and Disney Press among others. His work has received awards from Communication Arts and he has been awarded medals from Spectrum, SILA, and Society of Illustrators New York. www.gregswearingen.com


Hala Wittwer Swearingen, Illustrator

Hala Wittwer Swearingen (MFA Art Institute of Boston) joined the SUU illustration faculty after six years of teaching graduate and undergraduate illustration at California State University Fullerton. She is the illustrator of Dragon Egg by Mallory Loehr and Meow by Jane Yolen. Her work has been recognized in Spectrum and Society of Illustrators New York. She has received awards from SILA, Communication Arts, and the Hiii Illustration Annual China.




Get Ready 2017 Utah/Southern Idaho SCBWI Illustrator’s Conference


The Utah/Southern Idaho SCBWI Illustrator’s Conference is coming up. Mark your calendars now.

More information coming.

Nature Journaling with Utah/Southern Idaho SCBWI


Lora Koehler and Elissa Cruz

Lora Koehler and Elissa Cruz


Last Saturday was our Utah/Southern Idaho SCBWI nature journaling activity up in the Ogden area. We met at the Rainbow Gardens at the mouth of the Ogden Canyon.










Rob King introduced us to Rainbow Gardens and talked about the two group book signings that they have a year, one in June and another one in December. They also have a Christmas art exhibit. Elissa Cruz announced some up coming SCBWI local activities.

Rob King Rainbow Gardens

Rob King Rainbow Gardens












Lora Koehler talked about journaling in nature and introduced us to Barbara Bash’s book on journaling, “True Nature”.

Lora Koehler

Lora Koehler












The group then journeyed all the way across the street to the Ogden River Parkway and spent some time listening to the sounds of the river, birds and the inner working of our grey matter as we created in nature. We then met back at Rainbow Gardens and shared our creations.










Here is a quick watercolor sketch I did while breathing in the fresh air.










Here is my portable watercolors. It is small enough to take any where.

My portable watercolors

My portable watercolors












Some upcoming events to be aware of are the Writers and Illustrators for Young Readers Conference June 17th through the 21st. There is a discount for SCBWI members. The illustrator class will be taught by Steve Bjorkman. It is a great opportunity to learn from someone who has illustrated one hundred picture books. There will be a Potluck Picnic Social July 12th and “The Great Critique” in August and Boot Camp with Alane Ferguson October in Salt Lake. There is something for everyone. Check out the SCBWI Utah/Southern Idaho Regional Page under Upcoming Events on www.scbwi.org for more information. 

Elissa Cruz, Sherry Meidell, Angela Simmons, Elizabeth Abram, Kathy Bauch

Elissa Cruz, Sherry Meidell, Angela Simmons, Elizabeth Abram, Kathy Bauch





Illustrators at the Bountiful Davis Art Center


The Bountiful Davis Art Center was filled with right brained illustrators, taking notes and filling their sketch books on Saturday February 25th. You could feel the creative atmosphere increase as the illustrators started streaming through the door. The number of those who attended more than doubled from last year. Forty illustrators from across the state converged on the Art Center to improve their craft. Will Terry convinced many of his students from UVU to attend which added to the excitement.

We were welcomed and introduced to the Conference by Sydney Hussman the Regional Advisor of SCBWI then Sherry Meidell, the SCBWI illustrator coordinator did a presentation on the Characteristics of Children. She invited the illustrators to sketch as she presented so they would not slip off their chairs onto the floor into a coma. No one dropped so she felt the presentation was successful.



Anne Bowen at UTSCBWI Illustrators


Author Anne Bowen


Illustrators at BDAC


Anne Bowen, the author of several picture books, (including “I Know An Old Teacher” illustrated by Stephen Gammell)  captured the audience with words. She talked about the characteristics of the “List’ Picture Book and the “Story” Picture Book and helped us to look at picture books from the writing end of things. She used manuscripts from writers including her “Scooter in THE OUTSIDE” which will soon be a book. Hands went up with many questions which Anne answered nicely. She captured the attention of illustrators with word and stories.


Will Terry presented about marketing yourself in a global market place. Will has done an excellent job with teaching videos that he has available on his web site and ebooks that lead the viewer back to his web site and blog. He shared great information about how to make sure your art stays out in the public eye. Being an illustrator, he captured our attention with pictures and words. One of the benefits of being at a conference is finding out information that just comes up by being there. We were able to watch Will use his ipad to sketch with his finger. It’s almost like being a super hero. The drawing came out of the end of his finger. Ahhh or Arggh We have entered the digital age.







Will Terry at the Utah SCBWI Illustrator’s Conference



After a break for lunch, we met downstair to sketch children. A family of eight were kind enough to sit on the floor and play while the illustrators tried to capture the children with a quick eye and quicker sketching. Kids do not hold still. The two year old ran around the group, singing out, “My feet. My feet. My feet.” The trick was trying to capture a moving object and trap it on your paper. You can’t help sketching with a smile when you are sketching kids. The two year old did something that got his little 5 month old sister to first giggle and then laugh right out loud. The illustrators came up with some great sketches which we displayed around the room with portfolios and post cards to share with those that attended. An added bonus was an impromptu showing of Mark Pett’s book that has been bought by Simon and Schuster “A Boy and His Plane” It is a delightful wordless picture book, one that will become a treasure.


Will Terry competing with BDAC Sculpture


Utah SCBWI Illustrator’s Conference



An added benefit was the BDAC Statewide Exhibition which was hanging and gave illlustrators a view of some of the amazing art being created around the state. It was a great conference with great information at a great price. We were introduced to new ideas and given new direction. It was a nice way to spend a Saturday.


Will grabs their attention.


Will Terry Answering Questions




Mark Pett


Mark Pett’s impromptu presentation