Kevin Barry and Marlo Garnsworthy holding their awards

NESCBWI 2014 Recap

These past few months have been a whirlwind of excitement and change! One of my favorite events each year is the regional NESCBWI (New England Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) conference, which took place in May this year. It's a great event that brings children's book industry professionals (and those aspiring to get into the children's book industry) together to learn, grow, and forge new friendships.

As always, there were a lot of great workshops this year! A few that I really enjoyed included:

  • Facial Expression and Body Language for Characters in Children's Graphic Novels and Comics

    with Ed Briant

    An eye opening workshop on the subtleties of various facial expressions, which was further reinforced when we illustrated our fellow partner's performance of different facial expressions. Talk about embarrassing pictures!

  • First Look: Your Single Best Piece Critiqued

    with Ruth Sanderson, Diane Earley, and Nicole De Las Heras

    It's always valuable to hear feedback from industry professionals who you may potentially market your work to.

  • Got Rhythm? Pacing the Picture Book

    with Deborah Freedman and Frank Dormer

    These two were hilarious! Using Molly Bang's Picture This: How Pictures Work, they had us illustrate stories using construction paper, glue, and other physical materials. Deb and Frank did a great job of reinforcing how important basic shapes and colors are to creating a strong composition, regardless of how realistic the final illustration will be.

  • "What Makes a Bestselling Picture Book?"

    with AJ Smith and Susan Savory

    This a very loaded question but AJ and Susan did a nice job of breaking down what makes the classics...classic!

  • Now Try It Like This: Tough Love for Illustrators

    with Deborah Freedman

    Another excellent pacing class in which Deb made us look at different ways to compose a scene and move the story forward.

  • The Picture Book Dummy for Smart Illustrators And Authors

    with R.W. Alley

    R.W. Alley did a wonderful job of describing the picture book process, from the hiccups along the way to the final printed version, while having us practice different ways of translating a manuscript into a picture book dummy.

Every year, NESCBWI manages to bring in an excellent keynote speaker and this year was no exception! The very talented Peter H. Reynolds gave a wonderful speech on being an artist, writer, and about passionately following your dreams and honoring your talents.

Dinner with friends at Theodore's in Springfield
Renee Kurilla's illustrations of Greg Matusic and Kevin Barry

One of my favorite parts about the conference, though, is seeing old friends and making new ones. These conferences bring together tremendous talent throughout the region (and in some cases throughout the country). It's great to sit down with fellow writers and illustrators and chat it up!

I also want to give a BIG congratulations to my friends and fellow artists who won awards at the 2014 NESCBWI Conference:

Congratulations for the awesome recognitions! The hard work pays off!

It's hard to believe that the conference has already come and gone! I'm already looking forward to what 2015 has in store!