Saturday, May 2, 2015

RISD certificate grads attend NE-SCBWI Conference

One of the most active organizations that supports children's book writer's and illustrators is the  Society of Children's Book Writer's and Illustrators, know as SCBWI.
Clare, Meg, Cheryl, Marcela and Anne 

I just returned from the New England chapter's annual conference in Springfield, MA, "Think Outside the Crayon Box." With over 600 participants, it's quite an event. I recognized two of our instructors and eleven students or grads of the certificate program while I was there.
Cindy, Brook, Jeanette

What do you get if you go to a SCBWI event?

For illustrators, there were various workshops.
There was an Illustrator's Challenge, designed as a portfolio building exercise and promotional opportunity. This year's challenge was to illustrate a single line of text for a double-page spread: "Don't worry-I fixed it."
Marcela's Illustrator's challenge
Ann with her Illustrator's challenge (and a corner view of Marcela's)
 Marcela with Sarita and Stella

Award Winners

There is a Portfolio Showcase, viewed by attending agents, art directors and editors, judged by professional art directors, with prizes awarded.  Recent grad Marcela Staudenmeier won the R. Michelson Gallery Award, and will be included in the annual CBI show there in November.

Recent grad Rong Yuan Ma (Roya) won the Ann Barrow Scholarship, which gives her free tuition to next year's conference. She attended the conference with her husband Luc, and their eight month old baby.

I couldn't be prouder of all of the attendees for putting themselves out there to be seen, to learn, and to network.
Roya and McKenzie with Illus 3 instructor, Emilie Boon

Roya, Luc and McKenzie
Brook and Lin
Instructor Marlo Garnsworthy (front rt.) with friends







Workshops, Speakers & Critiques

Many agents, editors and art directors attend, and  portfolio and manuscript reviews can be scheduled.
Illustration by Dan Santat
The keynote speaker was Dan Santat, author/illustrator of this years Caldecott Award, "The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend".

Josh Alves did a workshop on Planning, preparing, and Publishing an interactive app book, and Nicole Tadgell did a watercolor workshop, to name just a few of the workshops geared towards children's book illustrators, as well as author/illustrators.

Milanka with author Jane Yolen
One of the fun events was Pitchapalooza, an American Idol for books (only kinder and gentler). Twenty writers are selected at random to pitch their book in one minute—and only one minute!  A panel of experts critique the pitch. Winner gets introduction to agent or publisher. 

The conference is run almost entirely by volunteers, and is an amazing feat.


  1. What a lovely report, Chery. It was indeed a fabulous conference! And it was extra special to have so many from the RISD CE contingent!!!

  2. Love it! Thanks Cheryl. It was so good to see you for a few minutes and I hope we meet again soon :)

  3. Cheryl, thank you for writing such a wonderful report and for including all of us. It was an inspiring Conference that was double special because it seemed like a RISD CE reunion! And all the wonderful news, prizes, published books, books in the works and the lovely babies: I'm so happy for everyone!

  4. Hi Cheryl,

    I didn't see you at the conference, but I did get a chance to meet a few of my fellow RISD-CE Children's Book Illustration alumnae. It was wonderful to talk to others who have graduated from the program! Hope to see you next time.--Beth (RISD-CE '07)