Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Advice for Students


Every year I get e-mails from art students asking about what they should do to become an children’s illustrator. Here’s my general advice on what can be helpful. This is just my opinion so take this with a grain of salt. You should definitely do a lot of research on your own and find what works for you.

  • Draw, draw, draw

  • Read, read, read
    • Go to the library and bookstore and read lots of picture books. Read and analyze the books. How does the illustration push the story along? How does the illustrator add to the story beyond words? How is page turn used to move the story? How does the illustrator vary the composition throughout the book? Do you see the differences in character design and composition between stories intended for different age groups? How are books intended for 2 year olds different from those intended for 5 or 7 year olds? 
  • Have your own website
    • You NEED a website of your own. The first thing anyone is gong to ask when you say you are an illustrator is a link to your work. 

    • Virb.com, Squarespace are great low-cost website providers and you can have a great portfolio site up without any coding knowledge. You’re an illustrator, not a web developer. Sure, you can learn how to put up a website for yourself but your time is better spent creating more illustrations.

    • If you can’t do a paid website, use the various free options that are out there (flickr, tumblr, behance, etc.). It doesn’t matter what you use, just have your work available for people to see online.

  • Join Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) 
    • If you want to be a children’s book illustrator, there is a lot to learn about the craft and business of it. There isn’t a better place to learn. Join this organization and attend local and even national conferences. It’s worth it.

  • Go on Twitter
    • There is a huge community of picture book illustrators and writers on twitter. Follow them, make friends, learn from each other. A great place to connect with illustrators is by going to the #kidlitart hashtag.

5 comments:

  1. Fantastic advice and resources, Tracy! Passing it on :)...

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    Replies
    1. Thanks! I'm so glad you found it helpful. It's kind of hard writing things like this since I'm still figuring things out.

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  2. This is a lot of great advice! Thanks for posting it.

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