The image above was one of the pieces in my portfolio, and was displayed on the screen at the Golden Kites Luncheon, when the award winners were announced.
[August 21, 2010 update: WOW, Simon & Schuster wants me to illustrate a book! Author: writer/actor/comedian Michael Ian Black. Tentative release date: Spring, 2012.]
I'm writing this from a hotel room in the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza in L.A., where I'm attending the SCBWI Summer Conference. It's been a FANTASTIC conference. I dare anyone to come to this event and not leave super-inspired, armed with new knowledge about the craft and business of writing and illustrating. I've been taking all my notes on my iPad.
This was also the first time I attended this conference where I attended some illustrator tracks in addition to writing tracks. My California illustrator friend, Beckett Gladney, convinced me to sign up for the Portfolio Showcase at the last minute. I was highly resistant, telling her my work wasn't good enough yet, that I wouldn't have the time to polish the pieces I wanted to include.
But (as good friends do), she pushed hard enough that I finally thought heck, I might as well. I'm always encouraging people to step outside of their comfort zones and push their own personal envelopes, so I should listen to my own advice. My mega-talented author/illustrator sister, Ruth Ohi, also encouraged me to enter, offering me portfolio and art tips.
When I almost pulled out because of lack of time, Beckett helped me by going into my Flickr set of illustrations online, picked out the pieces she thought would showcase my strengths, and printed them out for me. She also sewed a gorgeous handmade cover for my portfolio that attracted a lot of positive comments (to you artists out there: Beckett sells custom-made portfolio covers in her Etsy shop).
At the hotel, we spread all the pieces on the floor of our hotel room, and she helped me put my portfolio together. I was surprised by her choice of pieces -- they weren't the images I would have chosen. But I trusted her instincts, and I'm glad I did. Because...
Not only did I place in the top three (an Honor award) overall, but I was also selected by a second set of judges as one of the six Mentorship Award illustrators. The Mentorship Award is given to illustrators participating in the annual Portfolio Showcase "whose publishable work shows great promise and potential." Yesterday morning, I had individual critique sessions with six members of the SCBWI Board Illustrator Committee as well as publishing industry pro, Rubin Pfeffer.
Mentor List (added later because some people were asking):
Cecilia Yung, Art Director and VP at Penguin Young Readers;
Pat Cummings, Illustrator, Writer, and Instructor at Parsons;
Priscilla Burris, National Illustrator Coordinator;
David Diaz, Award Winning Illustrator;
Bridget Strevens-Marzo, International Illustrator Liason; and
Rubin Pfeffer, Agent at East/West Literary Agency.
I was completely stunned, considering the level of craftsmanship I saw in the portfolios display in the showcase.
I'll post more info when I get back from L.A., but I had to post the news here because you've all been so supportive of my cartoons and doodles. THANK YOU! Special HUGE thanks to my friend Beckett and sister Ruth for encouraging me to do this.
After talking with the Mentors yesterday morning, I'm SOOOO excited about new possibilities in my creative work that I hadn't considered before.
Part of me is still wondering if I'm going to be waking up at some point.
Ok, so this post wasn't so brief after all. And AUGH, I can't believe it's already the last day of the conference!
Must log off now...