Thursday, February 14, 2008

I'm back from the SCBWI Winter conference part I

Well I'm back from NY and what I thought was just tiredness from our plane getting delayed and delayed and delayed turned out to be a 101 degree fever and a lovely case of the flu. So I've spent the last few days in bed not feeling human. This is my first attempt to look back over my pages of notes and try to distill some of the info I gathered:

The best thing about the conference for me was the panel discussions with various players from the children's publishing world: editors, marketing directors, agents, bookstore owners and, of course, authors and illustrators. The subject of "how the picture book market is doing" kept coming up. One panel assured the audience that the PB market is fine, at another time Tomie DePaola, while filling in for a missing Harry Bliss (who was en route through a blizzard), pronounced the PB market DISMAL! I found this amusing as it was much to the consternation of some previous panelists. But at the end of the conference Arthur Levine (of Arthur A. Levine Books, Scholastic) had a good point: there will always be need a for picture books because 4 year olds are not going to just skip them and go directly to chapter books! While the market might be suffering some right now due to lack of funding on the school library side he thought that the PB market was not as much in the dumps as many others claim it to be.

On a different subject than the picture book market, Saturday morning's speaker was David Wiesner, winner of 3 Caldecott Medals and one of my personal favorite illustrators. I've never seen him speak before and, really, I was just blown away. He has so much talent, I could just gush like a school girl. I used to like this guy so much I wanted my work to look just like his. In fact my senior project in college was a wordless picture book because I was so inspired by his wordless stories. Fortunately I got over wanting to work exactly like him and found my own style but i still love the idea of creating wordless picture books. Check out Tuesday and Flotsam to see what I mean. In a later session editor Caitlyn Dlouhy referred to him as being off "in the genius realm". I think she's right.

well thats the most of my first report. I'll write more later of some of the funny and disappointing moments.


Doug said...

Hi Mary... so after all the dust has settled, do you consider the conference worthwhile for an illustrator to attend? Did you meet anyone or learn anything that was really useful to you? I have always been curious about this...

Mary Uhles said...

hey doug, my personal opinion is its worth it to go but maybe not every year. Its less personal than the regional conferences where you get to meet art directors one on one. But i look at all of these conferences as bricks in a wall that is my entire career... i've learned that i never know what i might hear that might help me. this conference i did learn some interesting things about how publishers are dealing with the big chains and discounters and how that effects their business which affects my business... while i can't use that kernel of knowledge right at this minute it might come in handy some day.