Due to the Lockdown, our Illustration Masterclasses have switched online. Anne-Marie Perks, Niki Leonidou and Trish Phillips report on this month's Portfolio Breakouts.

In the midst of these incredible times of working from home, Zoom meetings, online classes and events, social distancing, and parents delivering home education and an entire world demanding long-needed change, Illustration Masterclasses have joined the rest of the world going online. We have a full programme of illustrator interest masterclasses planned and in process until November 2020. Portfolio Breakouts happening over three Saturdays in June were the first of these online offerings.

Katie Knutton, non-fiction art director for Bloomsbury wrote.
“I really enjoyed getting to meet all the illustrators during the session. It was particularly interesting to meet illustrators all at different points in their career and with such a wide range of styles and interests and discussing how we commission work in non-fiction in particular. Using Zoom worked really well with almost no technical issues and it was great knowing the team where on hand, keeping things running smoothly.”

© Trish Phillips

Observation notes from the Illustration MasterClass Team

From Trish Phillips,
“I found the first SCBWI online Portfolio Breakout flowed extremely well and gather from the illustrator’s comments that they were very satisfied with how it went and with the feedback they received. There were minor glitches at the beginning of some sessions where the screen sharing needed working out, but this never took long and the reviews went on for 15 minutes with a reminder of 5 minutes left to ask any final questions. Katie was an excellent reviewer answering all questions and with her guidance for the portfolios, suggesting that publishers favour a strong voice; a portfolio with too many different styles (she didn't say the 'S' word) is too confusing. One way of working, and even perhaps one for each genre is good.”

From Niki Leonidou,
“I had the pleasure of helping organise and observe our first SCBWI Portfolio Breakout online. This was all new to us and so needed to test it out beforehand a few times. We also received helpful feedback from the art directors we invited as they had ideas of how this would work better. And it did! I was in the breakout room with Alice from Alice Williams Literary agency. Working with six illustrators over three hours, she listened  carefully to every illustrator, their background, their techniques, ideas, inspiration and their aspirations. Her feedback pointed out their stronger elements and helped them understand what points needed more work, and gave a clear their vision on which market and kind of books their artwork would sell more etc. The variety of illustrations was extraordinary, many levels and styles as some of the illustrators were experts in other artistic fields like fine art and graphic design. I hope that they all got useful feedback and encouragement to keep on working on what they love and also make the next step towards a successful career as an illustrator out there!”

From Anne-Marie Perks,
“It was a joy to meet each illustrator in the main Zoom room and send them off to their chosen reviewer, and to hear back their positive responses to their reviews. It never ceases to amaze me how supportive the art directors, commissioning editors, publishers and agents that we work with are in helping illustrators grow in their skills as a children’s book visual storytellers.”

Full details of upcoming Illustration Masterclasses are here.

Anne-Marie Perks is a former SCBWI Illustration Coordinator, illustrator, animator and lecturer at Buckinghamshire New University. Recent books include the wordless When Dad Hurts Mum, and A Safe Place from Domestic Abuse (Books Beyond Words Publishing, London). The Silkie (Clucket Press) a middle grade novel, is now available.
Niki Leonidou has been an illustrator since 2001 with more than 180 books with her work published worldwide, including Greece, the US and UK. Her picture book, Looking for Misty, both written and illustrated by her, was nominated for the Keycolours Award for Best Picture book Concept in Belgium, 2014. Find her on Twitter at @NikiLeonidou.
  Trish Phillips is an author, illustrator and paper engineer. A graduate of the Cambridge MA course, she's co-organised the SCBWI Illustrator Masterclasses for several years.

Twitter: trish_again Blog biglittletale

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