Monday, May 6, 2013

Back from my first SCBWI Conference!

Me (totally awestruck) with Russ Cox!
 My goodness, where to begin? Maybe with one word, Wonderful!

I chose the word wonderful to sum up my very first SCBWI conference because it also contains the word wonder, and I truly was just awestruck and inspired by so many of the talented folks there. For many of my friends, near and far, they knew I was prepping for this and had a bit of nervous excitement going on... but as I drove down to Springfield last Friday it was like all the nerves left and I just became downright excited. All I really wanted out of my first conference was to soak it all in, be mindfully present, meet some talented people, see some great art, learn a few things, and (hopefully) sleep in. And man, it did not disappoint.

It is hard to summarize all that happened over the weekend - my best comparison would be art school. That great energy that comes from being with all sorts of creative individuals who share a love of art (and writing), specifically for children. I enjoyed many serendipitous meetings, friendly conversations, inspiring talks and fantastic workshops... plus met my "Conference Rock Star".

Me with Nicole Tadgell (doesn't 'she have a great smile)
My first workshop was with Nicole Tadgell. She is such a talented illustrator and lovely person. Nicole taught "Drawing On Emotion" and it was not only interesting and insightful but fun too! Isn't it a treat to meet someone you admire, especially when that person turns out to be even better than your expectations - that was Nicole, just a gem of a lady.
I also enjoyed a workshop by Sarah Brannen on creating compelling postcards. She had some great examples and shared her experiences with us, which certainly gave me a new perspective on my own mailings. My other favorites of the weekend were two workshops given by Carlyn Beccia. She is just an arty/techy/history phenom and quirky fun to boot. If you enjoy digital painting or want to try it out, she has a great digital painting book available, so look her up!

Keynote Speaker, Grace Lin
I must confess that I was super excited to meet many of these fine people - like 8-yr old running around Magic Kingdom, strung out on cotton candy and ice cream super excited. So... my personality (which has been kindly described as "bubbly") kicked into overdrive and become more of a "nuclear enthusiasm" (I talk really fast and at a higher pitch when I am uber-excited) and yes, I even began to stammer. This happened (most notably) when I met my Conference Rock Star, the talented Russ Cox. I was introduced to him through a couple of lovely gals that I met my first day at the conference (shout out to Robyn & Nina!) He was approachable, kind, and humble - all wrapped up into a very tall package of serious talent. That just about made my conference! I met another talented illustrator, Greg Matusic on my last day of the conference... just a few hours before leaving. Another fun happenstance since I was looking for the hotel gift shop and ended up sitting and chatting with him in the hotel lobby. He shared his perspective on returning to the conference (this was his second one) and then discussed our similar backgrounds in design and illustration. Of course meeting all these folks would not have been possible without the support of my wonderful husband who encouraged me to go and then played Mr Mom to our three active kids the entire weekend.

A final note and a recurring theme at the conference was simple yet true... you need to take risks, you need to persist and you really need to do what you love. Find your own voice and not give up. That is important to remember in art, as well as in our daily lives.

“You only lose energy when life becomes dull in your mind. Your mind gets bored and therefore tired of doing nothing . . . . Get interested in something! Get absolutely enthralled in something! Get out of yourself! Be somebody! Do something . . The more you lose yourself in something bigger than yourself, the more energy you will have.” - Norman Vincent Peale


Shirley said...

YAY! What a fabulous post, Lisa. It's thrilling to read of your time at your first conference! That is awesome. I have yet to attend but can only imagine how amazing all of it must have been! And what a treat to meet all of those fabulous illustrators and leave with the sentiment you heard throughout the weekend...such wise words to be left with. And goodness, your new website is wonderful! Congratulations!

Lisa M Griffin said...

Thanks Shirley. It was so much fun... I really encourage you to try one out if you can. And thank you for checking out my website too. Have a great day. :)

Jenni Price said...

Awww...look how tiny you are next to Russ Cox :)

BTW, your new website design looks really nice!

Lisa M Griffin said...

I know right... the man is so tall!
And thanks for visiting my new site. Have a great day. ;)

michele said...

Wow, what a great time this must have been! It was fun to hear your account of the conference- and now, to follow up on the links you shared! Enjoy this creative high- Hope it lasts a long time! :o)

Lisa M Griffin said...

Hi Michele,
It was a great time and I hope you enjoy those links... some amazing people!
Have a great week,

Bella Sinclair said...

Oh WOW! Sounds like you had an incredible time! All that talent in one place is mind boggling. Lucky you to have met such amazing people! Hooray!

JaneA said...

I just went to my first SCBWi conference in England a few months ago and it was AMAZING. So glad you had such a great time!