Thursday, October 23, 2008

Portfolio Critiques at SCBWI conferences

A new part of the Midsouth SCBWI conference this year was a poster contest for children's book art. The conference faculty (including an art director from Greenwillow, an editor from Abrams, and Harold Underdown) chose the one that they felt looked most like the cover of a children's book and mine won. How exciting is that!

If I had used a piece of artwork that I had in my portfolio last year at this time, I don't think I would've won. This past year I've grown a lot in my art, and I contribute the starting point of that growth to portfolio critiques from a number of art directors at SCBWI conferences this past year. Each critique pointed out small changes I should make to bring my art to a new level.

There were a lot of beautiful illustrations at the conference this year. Those of us who had attended last year's conference and had met with the Art Director, Laurent Linn, have greatly improved our portfolios based on his articulate suggestions. I think it's so important to get your portfolio critiqued by Art Directors as often as you can.

It's easy for illustrators to stay so stuck in the same way of drawing and painting and composing scenes just because they've sold some artwork. I want to grow as an artist. I want my newest work to always be my best work - but that takes being open to suggestions from others, especially Art Directors, and not getting defensive about my work. Then putting in a lot of hard work to implement those changes. When you look over your portfolio, do you have old pieces in there because they're better or the same quality as your newest work? Are you always striving to bring your artwork up to a new level?


Ginger*:)* said...

Kristi, the poster is beautiful! I like the spark you lighted with your ideas for reviving one's portfolio.

And we do learn a lot by attending conferences, networking and contributing to art sites as well as viewing them.

Dee said...

I agree with you 100%. Those critiques are invaluable! I'm in the process of overhauling my portfolio based on my last critique...and it's taking me a while! I'm glad for it though, because I am more focused then ever on strengthening my art. :)

Kate said...

Congrats Kristi! I do have to say that i was impressed with your portfolio when we met last year, but I am amazed at what you have done with it in this short amount of time since then. You have really transformed it. Congratulations!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Kristi Valiant said...

Thanks for the comments! Kate, it's so nice to hear that you can see the improvements in my portfolio too. That's so encouraging. I feel like I still have so much to learn, especially as I'm studying some of my favorite illustrators' books in depth. Holly Hobbie's Toot and Puddle books are so genius. If you other illustrators haven't studied those illustrations over and over, I would highly recommend it! They are the perfect combination of lovable, quirky characters and gorgeous backgrounds and settings.

Bron Smith said...

Beautifully rendered poster, Kristi. The lights and shadows that you created make such a difference. Congratulations.