Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Illustrator Panel: Secrets for Success at Every Stage #scbwiwwa

Dana Arnim, Jim Di Bartolo, Paul Schmid, and five stolen candy bars joined me, Jaime Temairik, Sunday afternoon.The panel had been asked to divulge three secrets -- career secrets, not political secrets, although I think Jim knows things...

The Chinook Update blog had a round up of local studio tours a few months ago. You may have noticed framed quotes populating these places and the panel was asked if they had any particular rituals or mantras they turn to while working.

Dana: She has a pair of Addidas Tokyo track spikes hanging in her studio from her running days. "They remind me there is no substitute for putting in the work. Before you can race, you have to train, so craft, craft craft."

Jim: Laini and Jim work in the same room and they have signs above their computers. Jim's says "Mr. Fresh" and Laini's says "Mrs. Wonderful." This only proves that they are indeed superheroes. BUT seriously. Jim surrounds himself with reference books and does Mental Apprenticeships -- when looking at other artists' work analyze how they made a piece and see if their approach could help your work. "Always be studying, always be willing to try new styles, especially if you aren't getting the work you want."

Paul: He's got a quote hanging above his desk that says "Quality is not job one, being totally, frigging amazing is job one." What Paul wants to do every day is amaze and stand out. He thinks this boils down to content, not style.

Jaime: I spend most mornings having existential crises and low confidence. Running has helped that. Especially running up a hill which makes me feel like I've accomplished something for the day even if I end up scrapping all my drawings. Taped to my computer is "What's the opportunity in this?" I always wonder if I'm good enough to handle a new job or responsibility, but taking a leap into the unknown can be great. If I get a rejection, rather than cry into some Ben & Jerry's, I have to remember there's got to be something in this that will make me a better author or illustrator.

This mostly comes down to Seattle/Portland opportunities for illustrators.

Dana: Dana works in watercolors and has a Kinko's secret for us. She brings in her 140 lb. watercolor paper (up to 13 x 19) to a Kinko's and has them use their color laser printer to print her line work on the paper. Knowing she has multiple copies to practice painting on frees her to try new things and not be too careful.

Jim: SCBWI!!!

Paul: SCBWI!!!

Jaime: Printing postcards at Costco (see their website for locations with Copy Centers) and taking Brenda Guiberson's summer UW Extension class on Illustrating Children's Picture Books. It is like book dummy boot camp and I've taken it three times. Shameless plug -- I'll be teaching it this summer and Paul Schmid is one of the guest speakers!

Since world domination is the goal of most illustrators.

Dana: Online tutorials. If you need to beef up your digital art skills, check out

Jim: Conferences. Jim attends the SCBWI International Conferences and has made many work connections. Jim also attends other industry conferences like ComiCon.

Paul: The internet. Paul loves to look at other illustrators online and is especially enamored of European ones. You can look at covers on or see if any of the Bologna Book Fair illustrators have websites.

Jaime: Alyson B. Stanfield has a mini-monopoly on art business advice. Though geared toward gallery artists, her book, podcasts and classes offer advice easily applied to illustrators. I loved taking her online "Blast Off" class.

1 comment:

Traci Bixby said...

Super duper info! Thanks so much for the posting!