This week, Anita Loughrey interviews Bridget Marzo who joined SCBWI in 1996.
I joined in Paris in 1996 at the launch of SCBWI in Western Europe by Erzsi Deak who became the first International RA. Thanks to a history of volunteering I’m now a life member – and gosh it has been 22 years! I was roped in to help the minute I joined the nascent SCBWI outside of the US.

My favourite, and most challenging, thing was helping set up illustrator events at SCBWI international conferences across Europe, including the very first US/UK/French gathering at the stunning Abbaye de Royaumont in France soon after I joined. I still remember getting up the courage to cold call Walker Books to invite AD Ben Norland to speak. The cross-cultural exchanges there made publishing history.
Me in a group photo at the last international conference - retreat at the Abbaye de Royaumont, SCBWI - Beverley Birch is on the far left and Erzsi Deak the first international Regional Advisor is kneeling on the ground on the far right. I am eighth from the left in back row.
Volunteering gave me the chance to travel despite my tight budget, including to the US. I helped set up picture book events for the SCBWI Greece conference on the beautiful island of Hydra, alongside SCBWI members from Greece and all over the world – and Tony Ross. What a dream talking children’s books under a starry night by the Aegean Sea.

Me in 2002 at the SCBWI Greece conference in Hydra - between (left) Marjorie Heerden, SCBWI South Africa, Tony Ross (in a look-alike jacket and T-shirt) and (right) Harper US AD Harriet Barton.
I was elected the first SCBWI International Illustrator Coordinator, thanks to co-running the memorable ‘Day Before’ SCBWI Bologna conference for several years. I set up international panels of art directors and publishers who looked together at illustrators' work and also talked about why they published a particular book they loved. Brian G Karas and Marc Boutavant were among the author-illustrators I was delighted to invite. Later on, when SCBWI head office decided to focus on a biennial stand at the fair, I enjoyed setting up and participating in the first duelling illustrator events with John Shelley (whom I first met at the fair) and others like Sally Kindberg – all life-long friends now.

Doing instant illustration in paint, alongside Paul O Zelinksy & Doug Cushman at the SCBWI Stand at the Bologna Bookfair 2008

Oon our SCBWI Illustrators Stand in London at the House of Illustration's first fair in 2014 - with Sally Kindberg.
I also ran SCBWI picture book events and exhibitions in Paris where I lived, befriended and learnt from generous book-makers like David McKee, Barbara McClintock and much missed Jan Ormorod. More recently it was good to catch up with US author-illustrator Paul O Zelinsky at a British Isles picture book Pulse day in London. I still keep a toe in volunteering even if I need to limit my time and I help with the Biennial exhibition, and mentoring from time to time. When volunteering at the Madrid conference, I got talking to a publisher from Harper US who had seen my published picture books on display. It led to a great book illustration commission – a concrete example of how SCBWI helped.

These two pics are from our SCBWI Biennial Half Moon exhibition late 2017 with faces you will recognise.

The best thing ‘ever’ about my time as a SCBWI member is finding my creative family and catching up with them in interesting places around the British Isles - and all over the world! Risking a cliché – I’ve learnt more you give out, the more you get back – though I am not talking about money or worldly goods.

Instagram: @bridgimage_art
Twitter: @bridgimage

The header photo shows Bridget today.
All photos credited to Bridget Marzo

Anita Loughrey is SCBWI's Membership Coordinator. Anita writes fiction for all ages, graphic novels, audio books, teacher resources, educational fiction, non-fiction and creative non-fiction on a wide variety of subjects for a wide range of publishers. She has over 85 books published in the UK and many more worldwide. She also writes two regular double-page spreads for the national writing magazine Writers’ Forum and teaches creative writing.

You can find out more about Anita Loughrey on her website and on her blog. Or follow her on Twitter @amloughrey and Instagram @anitaloughrey

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