I came back home from the New England SCBWI Spring Conference in Springfield, MA a couple of days ago, and WOW! It was such an amazing experience! I loved meeting and reconnecting with everyone, and I was inspired by how kind, thoughful, smart, interesting, and SUPERCRAZYTALENTED everyone was! I loved browsing through all of the cute and gorgeous artwork in the portfolio show, and trading stories and promotional cards with fellow illustrators! The panel discussions, keynote speakers, and workshops were great! I took workshops on topics such as: how to use improv acting techniques to improve your character development, understanding the publishing industry, how to incorporate hand-lettered typography into picture books, thinking about gender and sexuality issues in books for young people, understanding the Common Core in American education, and finding the right visual and narrative pace in picture books. If you are a children's book illustrator or writer who is considering going to one of these conferences... GO! You'll love it!
About the illustration above: I was excited to bring my work to the Conference, but I had a piece in my portfolio that was giving me trouble! I drew it a few years ago as part of my college senior project, and I loved the dragon in it... but nothing else! At the time when I first made it, I was still figuring out the ropes in how to lay out double-page spreads. When I tried to incorporate it into the dimensions of my portfolio, it was rather awkward. To avoid dividing up the poor boy between pages, I had to cut through the dragon's nose!
So I went back and reworked it! The original piece was done with watercolor pencil, and the new version was edited/painted in Photoshop. I changed the story in the picture too, because I wanted the smaller character to be more expressive, and as silly as this sounds, I wanted to have more unicorns in my portfolio!
I'm happy with the way the newer piece came out, and I honestly like both pictures for different reasons, visually and sentimentally. It's fun to sometimes revisit old art again! It helps me see how I've grown as an artist, and it makes me excited to work on my next project!