Advice for Students 2

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
    • Keep on creating work. Create assignments for yourself.
      Here are great drawing prompts here from Dani Jones:
    • If you know you want to go into children’s book illustration, find stories to illustrate for yourself. The easiest way to do this is to pick a fairytale. Do your illustrations in a standard 32-page, 8inx10in format so you can get used to breaking text up and telling your visual narrative within these constraints.32 page picture book template by Tara Lazar:

      Excllent picture book process and resource by Debbie Ohi:

  • 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.
    •, 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.
  • What should go into children’s illustration portfolio:
    • Jennifer Laughran of Andrea Brown Literary Agency:
    • Marla Frazee:
    • Will Terry Illustration:
  • Putting together a physical portfolio:
    • Molly Idle:
    • Juana Martinez-Neal:
  • Some Inspiring Videos
    • Neil Gaiman Commencement Speech at University of the Arts 2012:
    • Ira Glass on being creative (2min long):
  • Links to some additional resources for illustrators:
    • #Arttips from Giuseppe Castellano, Art Director at Penguin Random House
    • The Purple Crayon by Harold Underdown
    • Will Terry’s website is full of great advice:
    • The Girllustrators. A group blog of really talented children’s book illustrators based in Austin, TX:
    • SCBWI Blog:
02/04/2015 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

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