Illuminations from the Illustrator

Illustrator Portfolio Redux

As Brian wrote in his post on Thursday, May 3, the SCBWI conference on April 28 was a great success! Thank you to all who came and participated. Thank you especially to those of you who handed in questions to the panelists. You raised some important points and helped generate lots of useful information. One question addressed to me was how to prepare an illustration portfolio for submission to an art director. This type of portfolio is different from the portfolio an artist might submit to a gallery or an illustrator might submit to an ad agency. I addressed this issue in my post on April 2, 2012, but a return visit is worthwhile. Basically, a picture book illustrator wants to demonstrate his/her ability to tell a story in pictures. Some points to remember are: make sure your characters have a consistent appearance from page 1 to the end of the book. Compose your illustrations from different points of view, from close up, at a distance, overhead, etc. It’s boring to always view the action from the same spot. Add in a visual subplot, if appropriate, that is only present in the illustrations. One way to demonstrate your ability to tell a story in words is to borrow a well-known story, like a fairy tale, and illustrate it from beginning to end. This is good practice even if you don’t send it out. Remember, you want to check the publisher/art director’s web site for specific instructions on what to send. Again, Jennifer Laughran presents an excellent summary of what is recommended in her November 6, 2010 post.

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