I just got back yesterday from the SCBWI Southern Breeze Conference in Birmingham, and it was a blast. This was my first conference and I was amazed at how friendly everyone was! I knew I would learn a lot, but wow!!! I'm still reviewing my notes and soaking it in... a truly wonderful experience.
I also had the pleasure of meeting some super illustrators at the conference, one of whom I had spoken with via email but never met. If it had not been for Elizabeth Dulemba, I would not have made it to this conference. She had recommended SCBWI earlier in the year so I really owe her a lot! Thank you Elizabeth! Check out her blog and her wonderful illustrations in the book "Paco and the Giant Chile Bean Plant." Better yet, buy the book! I did and it's one of my favorites!
I also met Liz Conrad, a fabulous illustrator who works using collage (If you read this Liz, I hope I'm defining your work properly) It was so wonderful getting to meet her and see her originals in person! Her work is the kind I could study for hours... such delightful patterns, textures, and expression, all inviting you into the story.
I also had a portfolio critique with Laurent Linn, Art Director for Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. I'll NEVER forget it. He offered such a clear direction for my work and his passion for the industry shows so much you feel it yourself! It was truly an honor to speak with him.
And as if being in the presence of so many talented people, and learning the secrets of the trade wasn't enough, my entry for the Southern Breeze Illustration contest won first place! As you can imagine, I was really in a state of shock all weekend.