Detail of an illustration of a girl painting a beautiful ship for the magistrate

NESCBWI 2012 Conference

Before I jump into the conference details, I must first excitedly announce that my entry into the NESCBWI 2012 Poster Contest placed second in the Unpublished Category! Congratulations to all of my friends and fellow illustrators who placed within their respective categories, including Hazel Mitchell, Marcela Staudenmaier, Dan Moynihan, Milanka Reardon, and three time winner Russ Cox.

First and foremost, I must say what an amazing weekend I had! Not only was it great to see some familiar faces from SCBWI's New York Winter Conference, but it was also nice meeting so many new, talented individuals. Just like the winter conference, NESCBWI 2012 was a three day event, beginning at the Eric Carle Museum on Friday and ending on Sunday with a closing speech from Jane Yolen. Without getting too long winded, I'll just list some highlights from the weekend.

Me and fellow SCBWI members posing for a picture


While at the Eric Carle Mix & Mingle event, limited to only 250 attendees, I had the opportunity to meet, talk with, and have some books signed by many great children's book writers and illustrators, including Jane Yolen and Dan Yaccarino.

Later in the day, I attended the opening meeting of the Beginner Illustrator Academy, taught by the talented trio of Brian Lies, Anne Sibley O'Brien, and Carol Goldenberg. As part of a small group of Academy attendees, each of us were given the task of creating character model sheets and a finished illustration for one of three public domain stories provided by the teachers. Because this work was critiqued for Sunday, we simply introduced ourselves to each other and learned a little bit about what makes great picture books.

Another excellent aspect of the conference was the opportunity to be exhibited in the Portfolio Showcase, viewed by industry professionals, faculty, and volunteers. The showcase was open to everybody on Saturday evening.

Having dinner and drinks with a very fun group of illustrators and writers was a great way to top things off!

A photo of me standing with Harold Underdown
Russ Cox and Hazel Mitchell playing some music


I love the preliminary work that goes into animated films, including storyboards and character designs. So, it goes without saying that I had a blast attending Kelly Light's excellent workshop on character design. She even made cookies for all of us! It doesn't get much better than that!

I think many of the conference attendees will agree that Harry Bliss gave a hilarious keynote speech after lunch! As an illustrator and cartoonist for The New Yorker, among his many other achievements, he has an excellent sense of humor. I was laughing so much it hurt!

I also had the fortune of attending an amazing presentation by Mary Brigid Barrett about writing picture books. Although teaching how to write can be very dry and boring, Mary presented the material in such a animated way that it's pretty hard to forget the important lessons she taught.

Anytime you have Dan Yaccarino giving a presentation, as was the case for his workshop on the essentials of a picture book dummy, you want a front row seat. His combination of humor and thoughtful information make for an excellent class.

Having a critique with Martha Rago, the Associate Creative Director at HarperCollins Children's Books, was incredible! I learned a great deal about my strengths, weaknesses, and portfolio and marketing presentation. This was so important for my growth as an illustrator!

It was very exciting to meet Harold Underdown (top left), a knowledgeable industry professional whose website and book act as irreplaceable tools in navigating through the rough waters of the children's book market.

The day ended on a fun, relaxing note. I think the picture on the top right says it all!


It's amazing how fast the weekend went by! The Beginner Illustrator Academy was a nice way to end things. While having our "homework" critiqued, we also learned the many ways to create strong, dynamic characters, stories, and layouts for picture books.

Whew! What a weekend!