Monday, February 12, 2007

Arizona Illustrators Workshop

Recently, I had the opportunity to take part in a workshop run by Art Director Tim Gillner of Boyds Mills Press and hosted by the Arizona Illustrators Forum. (Held in Molly Idle's cool studio with room for 15 attendees. Thanks Molly!) This was a hands-on workshop, where we were given a project to work on ahead of time. We were sent manuscripts to pick from. (Lots of genres, lots of style.) We needed to chose a section of text to illustrate one page for. We got to decide how much or how little text to work with. After doing an initial sketch, with type placement, we sent it off to the AD for his comments and suggestions. We then needed to do revisions and bring the new sketch, along with the first one to the workshop. We were also given the choice of doing a final color piece if we wanted to.

A cool part of this was, I worked ahead of deadline! I’m the type of person who always makes my deadlines, but I push them to the eleventh hour. On the first sketch I finished about one week early, then had only minor revisions, so I had the final sketch done about 2 weeks before the workshop. This gave me time to start a color final.

And even cooler, when I was at the workshop and I said which text I decided to work with, Tim mentioned something about how he thought that story was just right for me. We had at least a dozen manuscripts to pick from, yet he knew by my style which one I’d choose. I know that’s his job, but I had tossed around a few options before I decided myself, so I was amazed.

But the coolest part for me, was finding out that I liked to work with someone else’s text. I had never done this before, I've always worked from my own text. I really wasn’t sure if I could do this, or if I would even want to do this. But after reading through the manuscripts a few times, I found myself sucked in. I was spending all my extra time thinking about the characters, what they would look like, what they’d be doing, what I wanted the pictures to say, and what I wanted to add to the story. And it was fun! (The piece I did for this workshop was “First Snow”).

For the first part of the workshop we each put up our pieces on a display wall and Tim went over his initial response, his suggestions for revisions, and how he felt the final sketch improved or what could still be worked on. As group we went over any color finals. It was great to hear everyone’s take on the finals. Tim was full of insight and advice. But he was also, in some cases, brutally honest. The rest of the workshop covered the following topics: Questions and Answers, What makes a better Picture Book, Inspiration Pieces, Contracts, Submitting Samples, and Individual Portfolio Critiques. A few of us were even able to get together for dinner at Sindbad’s. All in all, a great weekend!

One of the projects up for critique.

Tim Gillner and Amanda Shepard in deep conversation.

Tom Tate, Kathy Parks, Julie Gissler Barry.

Heavy discussion on self-promotion.

Dinner at Sindbad's.
Tim Gillner, Laura Jacobson,Tanja Bauerle, Kathy Parks,
Jullie Gissler Barry, & me. Missing from photo Debbi Haun.

The night included entertainment...

and even a illustrator who can belly dance!
(Debbi Haun on left)


Don Tate II said...

That looks like so much fun. And belly dancing, too!

gail said...

It was a lot of fun! It really has to be one of the best workshops I’ve been to. There was so much to learn and so much information covered in a day and a half. Nice mix of published illustrators, very close to be published illustrators, and new to the PB field illustrators. Nice to do a little socializing too!

Goomie said...

Those photos are great Gail! Looking forward to our upcoming gallery show. See you soon.

roz said...

Wow, what a great idea for an illustrators day. I wish they had done something like this at the illustrators day in NY. Looks like it was very insightful.
Thanks for sharing!

gail said...

It was more like a "weekend". Just couldn't fit that much into one day. We had one full day on Saturday and a half day on Sunday.

Glad you found me Roz!