It's that time again...

Hey there blog-readers,

It's that time again - SCBWI conference time!

This year, when SCBWI published its winter conference schedule, my jaw dropped. Listed among the scheduled faculty were Shaun Tan, David Ezra Stein, Mo Willems, Barbara McClintock, the Brothers Hilts, Mark Teague, Julie Andrews(!)... I mean, how could I say no? I've traveled across the country for conferences before. I can certainly manage to get myself uptown.

I'll be back soon with an update about the conference. In the meantime, however, this seems an appropriate image to leave you with because this character first showed up in my journal at an SCBWI conference...

And then again...

And finally, this past week I got around to giving Henrietta her very own pre-conference painting.

And now, I'm off. There's just enough time for a few last minute preparations before tomorrow. Wish me luck!

Twenties Bunnies

Because I've been watching Downton Abbey... and because tonight you should have a couple of bunnies in 1920s clothing to look at.

That is all.

KidLit Interview

So remember how last week, I mentioned that I'm going to be contributing to KidLit Artists?

Well, now it's official!

I did an interview for their page and was featured on the blog. Weee!! Check it out here!

And because I would hate to leave you without something ridiculous to look at... here are some elephants ice-dancing.

Rolling right along

I've always liked making "To Do" lists. But even better than making those lists is checking things off of them.

Busy, busy, and rolling right along.

KidLit Artists!

Hey there folks,

It's been a busy week. In addition to the work I've been doing at HarperCollins, I just added a freelance gig at Penguin to my work-week. More kids' book design, board book conversions, and on my very first day, scanning Maira Kalman originals! A few years back, I spent a summer as an intern with GP Putnam and am really excited to be working again with such a talented group of folks. Many thanks to Cecilia Yung for asking me on board!

In other news, I've just been added as a new member to the KidLit blog! Check out the post here!

The blog was founded by the SCBWI Mentee group from 2010, and along with my fellow 2012 Mentee winners, I'll be interviewed on the blog in the coming months and will later help provide content and posts. If you're interested in children's books and/or illustration, this is an amazing resource with posts about publishing, illustration, inspiration, technique... it's a good one to add to your feed!

Super exciting things! Yippee!

Coco & Oscar, New Year's Doubts, and Resolutions

Happy New Year blog readers!

I hope everyone's 2013 is off to an excellent start. Thus far, mine has involved a whole lot of sketching, which is to say, it's been swell.

I'm nearly done with the latest version of Coco & Oscar's story and before pontificating on being an artist, having doubts, and making resolutions, I'll give you a sneak peak of some of the new sketches.

As enjoyable as the drawing has been, it took me some time to really get back into the work. Last year was a big one. It was my first calendar year as a working illustrator. There were big work moments and life moments. And it was chockfull of hoping, working, and trying.

2013 arrived in the arms of good friends and good fun, but January felt like a precipice, as it often does. January is the edge of the unknown, blank days and months sprawled out before you. It's incredibly exciting—think about it! Think about it!! All of that time for creating and making things!—but it's also just a wee bit terrifying. Ahead lies another year with all of that hoping, working, and trying; of pushing forward; and of painting and drawing through the doubts.

And as I sat down in the studio with my stack of blank paper, just beginning to feel that January doubt prickling, I came across this letter by Steven Anderson at Disney—I've pasted the body of the letter below—and I immediately felt better.

I don't usually make resolutions. I've found that they often come from the perspective that Anderson talks about - a comparative place, where you're surreptitiously eying the person next to you and hoping to have what she has, do what he does, look more like him, or be more like her. No way. This is where I am, who I am, and what I have. It's mine, I've built it, and at the moment, it's good just as it is.

But, Anderson's point is absolutely resolution worthy. This is something I can buy into - to compete only with myself; to make the best things I possibly can; to pour my heart and dreams (and not the doubts and worry) into the words on the page and the paintings on my drawing table.

So, dear blog readers, I wish you all the best this year. May 2013 be the year just for you doing your best. 

Artists are emotional creatures. We feel things deeply. We see the world around us, react to it and base our work off of those reactions. Our work represents ourselves. It’s us. Not just what our bodies can produce but what our minds and hearts have to say.
We want people to like what we do. If we didn’t, we’d just draw, paint, sculpt, dance, act and write in our own living room with no documentation or recording of it. But we don’t do that because we want our work to be seen. We want to express ourselves to people and, in turn, produce a reaction in them. Our emotions create the art and our art creates emotions.
But there are days when our emotions get the best of us. They let us down. They didn’t give us the strength and motivation that we need when we’re discouraged or struggling. They convince us that we are “no good”. That we have no talent. Or that the talent we do have us not as much as, or as good as, the talent of another person.
Ultimately, the struggles that we have- the creative blocks we all face- come from comparing ourselves to others. I’m not as good as that person. I’m not as successful as that person. That person is at the level I want to be at and I don’t have it in me to get there. I do this constantly. But I realized a few years ago that what I SHOULD be doing is comparing myself to myself. I find that when I step back and evaluate where I’ve come from, and where I am in relation to that. I feel much healthier. Block out all those other people and focus on YOUR work. Are you better today than you were yesterday? Were you better yesterday than you were the day before? Better than you were six months ago? A year ago? Twenty years ago? If the answer is “yes”, then you’re on the right path. If the answer is “no” you’ve got work to do. But the only person you have to be better than is yourself. That constant growth, improvement and evolution is the mark of a healthy artist. Instead of looking around the room to see what everyone else is doing, keep your eyes on your own paper. YOU have to be the best artist you can be and the only person that can drive that evolution is YOU!
Steve Anderson