SCBWI CONFERENCE Illustrator Keynote


SCBWI Illustrator Coordinator Tita Berredo tells us why Ed Vere is the perfect choice for this year's Conference's Illustrator Keynote!

This is my first year as Illustrator Coordinator, and as once the wise Ben Parker (Spiderman's uncle) said, "with great power comes great responsibility". I would add that it comes with a lot of fun too, for one of my responsibilities was to choose the Illustrator Keynote for the Conference. Of course I didn't do this on my own, as we had a vote amongst my great team of illustration volunteers, but Ed was one of everybody's choice.

His latest book, The Artist, published this year by Puffin, is an ode to creativity and self-expression. It is such an important book not only for children but to the adults they will become and to the ones who still nurture that inner child. I would say that it's a must for all illustrators, as it touches delicate subjects such as expressing your true self, using the canvas as your playground, and not being afraid to share it with the world out there. It hits a sweet spot in me because it combines my three main passions: picture books, making art, and dinosaurs! So no wonder its illustrations were my choice for the face of the Conference — just wonderful!

Anyway, as you can see this specific picture book could alone cover my reasons to involve Ed in SCBWI's most important annual event. But one of our Conference team members has recently asked me to write a more formal note about 'why Ed Vere is a great choice for this year's Illustrator Keynote', and here is what I think about the whole thing.

Ed Vere is an award-winning and New York Times bestselling writer and illustrator of picture books, including How To Be a Lion - winner of Oscar's Book Prize - and Max the Brave which was named one of The Sunday Times' 100 Modern Children's Classics. With a distinctive style of bold strokes and vibrant colours, Ed expresses humour and character through playful illustrations that capture the imagination and delight of young readers. He is a talented and successful artist who has created beloved and acclaimed picture books, making him an important figure for the contemporary children’s books industry.

Ed is also a passionate advocate for creativity and art education, being involved in various projects and campaigns that promote the importance of reading, writing, and drawing for children's development and well-being. He has collaborated with organisations such as Booktrust, The Reading Agency, The National Literacy Trust, and The Big Draw.

By encouraging and supporting aspiring and emerging illustrators, Ed Vere embodies the spirit and values of SCBWI. He is without a doubt a role model for all of us who wish to create stories that enrich the lives of children and adults, and the perfect choice for our illustrator keynote speaker.

Ed will be giving his keynote speech on Saturday and on the panel of My Life In Pictures: An Artist's Reflection, where he will share his life journey into becoming an illustrator and the steps to creating his most popular books.

On Sunday, he will be giving not one but two hands-on illustration workshops. In the first one, Releasing the Artist, Ed will reveal his creative process behind The Artist, focusing on the balance between visual narrative, mixed media, and text. This workshop might be illustration focussed but is a friendly and flexible one for picture book writers if they would like to attend. The second one, Character Development and the Story That Comes With It, says it all. Ed shares the development behind his most appealing characters from How To Be A Lion, Mr Big, Banana!, Max The Brave and Grumpy Frog and shows illustrators how to develop a story from a relatable character. We will also be able to see Ed in action, drawing his most famous characters. It will be a blast!

There are loads of events for illustrators happening, including on the Friday Fringe. I’ll be hosting the Sketch and Scrawl Crawl at the Manchester Art Gallery, from 2pm — it's free to attend and no need to book. Also, don’t miss the amazing opportunity to showcase your talent at the Conference in our Illustration Exhibition, the deadline is the 15th of October. Check out the full programme here.

There are still two weeks to get your tickets, and a few 1-1s spots available too. Book your Conference tickets here

Don’t miss the amazing opportunity to showcase your talent at the Conference in our Illustration Exhibition.

There's still time to submit your artwork, no fees or attendance needed, and it's open to all SCBWI members! Find the details here.

*Header by Ed Vere


Tita Berredo is the SCBWI British Isles Illustrator Coordinator and the Art Director of Words & Pictures. She has a Master's degree in Children's Literature and Illustration from Goldsmiths UOL, and a background in marketing and cinema.

Instagram: @titaberredo

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