Friday, 24 February 2017

Meet the Illustration Committee!

SCBWI is full of heroes who sacrifice their time and energy to keep things running. Some volunteers can appear quite anonymous, working busily behind the scenes, and the Illustration Committee is no exception. So we asked all 10 members to get their pens out, sketch a self-portrait and explain a little of what we do, and why we do it. 



The Illustration Committee is a small group of volunteers who work closely with Anne-Marie Perks (Illustrator Co-ordinator) to organise all the various activities for illustrators in SCBWI. These range from the annual Conference to the Illustrator Showcase, Undiscovered Voices, the Picture Book Retreat, Words & Pictures and the Masterclass series. Here's the team in alphabetical order.


Mike Brownlow


I’m Mike Brownlow and I’ve been an illustrator/writer for quite a long time now. As a young illustrator living in London in the 80s, I joined the AOI. As a newly published author/illustrator in the late ’90s, I joined the Society of Authors. Both helped in small ways to broaden my knowledge about professionalism, best practice and the importance of networking. But I dearly wish there’d been a flourishing SCBWI around when I was younger because I would have learned so much more about books and publishing, and done so far more quickly, thereby saving myself a whole load of wrong turns and wasted effort.

I joined SCBWI about seven or eight years ago and the first Conference I attended was a revelation. The likes of Candy Gourlay and Sarah McIntyre threw out idea after idea about how to write a better book, how to get that book published and once it was published, how to maximise the chances of people actually reading it. This was information I’d been unable to find anywhere else. I started to volunteer on an ad hoc basis, and found I had professional experience and contacts that were useful to the organisation as a whole. For the last four years I was part of the Conference Organisation Team acting as Illustrator Liaison, helping to compile the lists of speakers and persuading them to appear. I’m now helping to organise the Illustrator Retreat for this July.

I think the SCBWI ought to be on every art student’s list of essential organisations to join. If they’re interested in finding out how to get into children’s publishing, I would humbly suggest they’ll learn more from the SCBWI than any other society. In the future I’d welcome any move to make ourselves known to more young illustrators and writer/illustrators, and to generally bring down the overall age of the membership. I think that’s the only viable strategy for long-term growth. But of course that will mean making the Society more affordable for the under-30s, which so far has proved a hard sell.

Bridget Marzo


Here is me on my beloved old bike dragging a couple of my characters behind me: Tiz who’s a high energy scribbling cat and Ott, a slow-going dauber of a donkey. They are part of me – I love both drawing and dabbling with colour.  Like Ott, I like taking my time to do things but can also work intensely like Tiz in a rush of excitement. And I positively enjoy working, like they do, with different media and approaches.

I found myself on SCBWI illustrator duty when  Erzsi Deak started the SCBWI region outside of the US in Europe - in Paris, a few years after the first picture book stories I wrote and illustrated were published - way back in 1990-2.

At the time I had a 3-year-old and a 13-year-old. Erzsi had three girls under the age of 10 – having kids and a burgeoning illustration career was no excuse not to volunteer.  I found it easier to network on behalf of a wider SCBWI purpose, than to simply network for myself. Appointed the first ever SCBWI International Illustrator Coordinator, I devised, co-organized, mentored, and have spoken at some memorable events across the world, including the Bologna Day Before conference which has now turned into a biennial SCBWI Bologna stand in the fair.  Alongside the volunteering, I have illustrated over 20 children’s books for French and US publishers, and for over a decade taught illustration and design part time at Parsons Paris School of Design. And years later, Erzsi Deak is an agent  - mine too - at Hen & Ink Literary Studio!  Most of my past books are on my archive illustration site.

Moving back to London from France in 2011, I re-branded as Bridget Marzo for books that I also write, with a new siteTiz and Ott’s Big Draw, my first for decades with a British publisher that I’ve written as well as illustrated, is out with Tate UK, and I’m working on more to be published here as well as in France and the US. As for SCBWI BI, this year I’ll be a mentor at the Picture Book Retreat which I started with Anne-Marie a few years back and I’m now liaising with an exciting new venue -  for what we hope will be best SCBWI BI exhibition ever.  Pictures travel as they say. I volunteer to help make them travel a bit further. 

Patrick Miller


I'm Patrick and my work is usually a combination of traditional and digital media for middle grade readers. I've been an almost full-time illustrator and SCBWI member for around two years, and was published for the first time in 2015. I'm delighted to be volunteering for SCBWI - I've received so much info and encouragement from other members it’s great to give something back. This year I'll be involved in Undiscovered Voices, Conference 2017 and in the SCBWI BI illustrator e-newsletters. I really believe that as creatives we can all learn shed-loads from each other, so have a duty to be generous with whatever knowledge we have; veterans and newbies alike. I wanted my self-portrait to be a bit more honest than I'd normally be, rather than giving you a cartoony impression ... much as I would love to be a full-time cartoon... hmm.

Paul Morton



Hi, this is me. Pictured drawing my favourite creature, and one that has featured prominently in my illustration career. My studio based in Barnsley is Hot Frog Graphics, and on a daily basis I can be producing anything from children's games to chocolate bars. Advertising posters to character creation.

But always, always, there are my book ideas, stories and characters being developed, sketched out and experimented with.

My membership of SCBWI has furnished me with a much more professional attitude with regards to children's book production and approach to publishers. My involvement in SCBWI covers volunteering at conference in areas such as Sketch Crawl and illustrator 1-1’s. I also run the Christmas Advent Calendar competition, now in its fourth year!

Shana Nieberg-Suschitzky



My name is Shana Nieberg-Suschitzky, alias Shanarama and I am a North London-based author/illustrator of children’s books. I love creating both animal and human characters, and my stories always seem to have a sprinkle of magic and humour, after all, who could survive without it nowadays! I’ve been a member of SCBWI since 2007ish and it has been a fantastic experience. I've learnt so much over the years from all of the great SCBWI events that I’ve attended and from like minded creative souls that I've met.

Due to my hectic family life and a husband who does a wicked disappearing act, (ie/ he's often away for around six months a year, sometimes more!) I've not been able to volunteer with consistency, but I've often written articles for Words and Pictures and helped at events that I've been able to attend.
I am delighted that there is now a category set up for people who are in a similar boat to me, who would like to help but for various reasons are limited. I am the acting manager/go-to person for gathering names to help out at forthcoming events. Thanks to John, who has formed the SCBWI Illo Ring that’ll make it easy to communicate, so I look forward to seeing you all at future events.

Anne-Marie Perks



My name is Anne-Marie Perks. I was thinking of all the artists through the ages who did self-portraits as part of their skill building and mark making discipline. I hadn’t set up a mirror to stare at myself intently for a long time! I enjoyed this so much that I’ve made an informal challenge for myself to keep going and try and do a self portrait every few months.

I am a professional illustrator who also writes, animates and teaches illustration and animation at Buckinghamshire New University two days a week. My illustration career spans over 30 years, and my work has appeared in magazines, packaging, advertising materials, concept work, adult non-fiction and fiction and children’s books. In one of my past lives I worked for 10 years as an art director and designer for magazines and design studios while producing illustration assignments as a freelancer.

When I moved to the UK with my British husband and two daughters, I had already been a member of SCBWI for nine years having joined in 1991 in California. In 2001, I took the role of Illustrator Coordinator for the British Isles and have now served in this role for 17 years! What a ride it has been! The growing pains have been challenging from time to time, moving from one illustration event a year to where we are now, a rich and varied programme offering masterclasses, competitions, retreats and exhibition opportunities throughout the year. SCBWI has proven to be a great place to meet other creatives who work hard at their craft and make amazing friends and fruitful contacts in the industry.


Trish Phillips



An illustrator and pop-up engineer, I am taking time out to study an MA in Children’s Book Illustration at Cambridge and wish it could go on forever.  We are all sketching constantly, almost in our sleep, so this quick self portrait is good practice. I believe the SCBWI committee is important to raise the profile of illustrators which is why I volunteer, and SCBWI offer such a wealth of opportunities for learning straight from the best illustrators, not to mention such a social and supportive network it is hard to see why you wouldn’t take advantage.

(Trish helps organise the Illustrator Masterclasses). 

Loretta Schauer


I’m Loretta, and I’ve been a member of SCBWI since 2009. I’ve volunteered for various duties, but I currently help organise the Undiscovered Voices competition for unpublished illustrators, the annual Picture Book Retreat, and the occasional PULSE pop-up event and Illustrator Masterclass. I love being part of a supportive network of people sharing ideas and skills. SCBWI is full of wondeful talented people, so its a brilliant place to make good friends who encourage and inspire you. SCBWI is also a great place to make connections and to get your work in front of industry professionals, so, if I can help others to get their work out there in front of the right people, so much the better.

I mainly illustrate picture books (Harper Collins, Little Tiger, Paragon, Five Quills) but I have recently branched out into illustrating black and white fiction (Bloomsbury, Wacky Bee). My website is woefully out of date atm – so here’s my blog where I occasionally post new work and news of published titles.  I tweet @Loretta_Schauer


John Shelley


I'm John, my illustration career started in London in the early 1980’s before shifting to the Far East for a couple of decades. After years immersed in the Japanese advertising/publishing market I joined SCBWI in 2001 as a means to re-connect with publishers and peers in the West. Well it certainly did that! Erzsi Deak persuaded me to help set up a Tokyo SCBWI Chapter, for which I stood as ARA and Illustrator Coordinator for five years until I left Japan, I also stood on the international Board of SCBWI for three years and for some time was part of the Bologna Book Fair team. Since 2009 I’ve volunteered for the British Isles region, I'’m the Friday Features editor of Words & Pictures since its web relaunch, and amongst various committee activities work with Bridget and Anne-Marie planning our Illustrator Showcase exhibition. I also support Helen Moss overseeing the Central East Network. Most recently I set up our Illustrator's Ring, a new support group of illustrator members on Facebook.

Here's my website. Most of my titles in recent years have been published in the US or Japan, but my most recent English-language picture book Will's Words has been widely distributed in the UK too. I've a new Halloween themed picture book Magic for Sale coming out through Holiday House in the States this summer.

I find SCBWI an amazingly bonding and welcoming organization. Through volunteering I've run or participated in SCBWI activities across a wide range of countries, yet the spirit of friendly, earnest support amongst members is the same everywhere. SCBWI has created many opportunities for me, most of my initial connections with American publishers were sparked in some way because of my involvement, either through association or directly at the Bologna Book Fair. But as well as opening doors, it's the kindredship of SCBWI that gives it such a unique strength, through it's community SCBWI nurtures talent, and brings writers, illustrators and publishing staff together in a wonderfully supportive way. The more you get involved, the more this becomes apparent.

Clare Tovey


I’m a member of the SCBWI British Isles Conference organizing team, representing illustrators, and helping to ensure we have exciting speakers and workshops on offer for illustrators. I’ve drawn books and stories since I was tiny, and have focused on this passion for ten years or so, learning loads from being a SCBWI member. Volunteering works brilliantly for me because I am slightly shy, and having a job to do helps! My top tip as an illustrator is to have a completely private sketchbook that I never show to anyone, and to start the day drawing in this over my first cup of coffee. www.clare-tovey.com



Join the Illustrator's Ring!

We've recently launched The Illustrator's Ring, a Facebook community for illustrator members, which supports the activities of the Committee and provides volunteers who can help on an ad hoc basis. All British Isles illustrator members are encouraged to join!



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6 comments:

  1. What a colourful, diverse and interesting bunch of creatives. It's an honour to be amongst such talent. Thanks for pulling all this together John.

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    1. Thank you Paul!! I love the different styles of the portraits :)

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  2. Great to see you all and a big thankyou :)

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  3. John did a great job putting out heads together :-)

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  4. Wonderful illustrated information. I thank you about that. No doubt it will be very useful for my future projects. Would like to see some other posts on the same subject!
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  5. What a delightful introduction to the team!

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