EVENT REPORT Portfolio Intensive

The latest Illustration Masterclass was SCBWI's ever popular Portfolio Intensive, run by a luminous team of art directors from Hachette and Walker Children's Books and the head of Plum Pudding illustration agency. Held at the House of Illustration on 9th June, Sarah Underwood was there to report.

As a recent graduate from Cambridge School of Art, I have been busy developing my portfolio and finding opportunities to present my work to publishers and agents, so I was looking forward to attending the SCBWI Masterclass: Portfolio Intensive held at the House of Illustration in Kings Cross.

I was greeted by a full room of attendees in the Clores Studio, the event was run by the ever welcoming Anne-Marie Perks our Regional Illustration Coordinator and Trish Philips, our lovely Co-organiser who meticulously timed our slots.

Trish Philips (© Sarah Underwood)
(© Anne-Marie Perks)

We were fortunate enough to have great representation from professionals in the publishing industry: Emily Lamm, commissioning editor from Hachette Children’s Books, Mark Mills, director of Plum Pudding Illustration Agency and Nghiem Ta from Walker Books. This gave us a broad spectrum of insight into the commissioning world, it was great to receive the feedback of both publishers and an illustration agency.

Emily Lamm from Hachette Children's Books (© Anne-Marie Perks)
Mark Mills from Plum Pudding  (© Anne-Marie Perks)
Nghiem Ta from Walker Books (© Anne-Marie Perks)

One of the things I most enjoyed about they day, and in fact all the Masterclass events I have attended through SCBWI over the years are the lovely people you meet. As we each waited for our slot to see someone we sat around tables and shared our portfolios and sketchbooks, talking about our experiences in general. I have always loved being a member of SCBWI for this reason; you get to meet people from all walks of life at different stages in their careers. Most importantly you can share advice and insights with one another, which is as valid and important as the masterclass itself. I have met lovely people through these events and really enjoy catching up with other artists to find out how they are and what they’ve been working on.

(© Anne-Marie Perks)

Personally, I found my reviews to be incredibly helpful. Everyone I saw was really welcoming and accommodating in giving us their full attention and discussing any specific areas you wanted to focus on. They are so experienced as to instantly get an idea of your work, to highlight our strengths and make suggestions for improvements. I found them to be incredibly encouraging as were the other attendees which all contributed to a really positive and buzzy atmosphere.

I like to record my meetings because I find that under pressure it can be quite difficult to digest everything while concentrating on the conversation. After our slot we sat down and talked to one another around tables and so it can be easy to forget everything that was said. I have always found my recordings really helpful in this respect, even if you take a moment on your own to jot down the key points that were raised, it will pay dividends in the long run so you can get the best out of your experience.

I came away from the event engaged and excited about the things I wanted to do to develop my portfolio with some promising leads and information, not only from the publishing houses I met but the people I encountered on the day.

(Header Artwork by Jonny Hannah, photo © Sarah Underwood)


Sarah Underwood is a recent graduate of the MA in Children’s Book Illustration at Cambridge School of Art.
Her website is www.kidsbookillustration.co.uk Instagram: @sarahundart 

1 comment:

  1. Such a pity many of us live miles and miles and miles away from London, when an expensive round trip of two days would be needed to attend! It sounded so good :)


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