Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Get Thee to a Conference!

What a difference 2 days make - 24 little hours..... I am singing this a la Dinah Washington these days. The SCBWI Florida summer conference was great. Just what I needed. After January and the conference experience you all know about... this trip was a quicker picker upper.

The Faculty - Janeen Mason. Sometimes you meet someone and you feel a jolt- and you know this person entered your life for a reason. Last year- I met her and knew. She's a person so passionate about what she does she exudes it- she's like walking talking art. She gave me a wonderful gift of big vine charcoal sticks- to get my self dirty and play with the art a bit, which is exactly what I need. When I do it soon- I'll post the pictures here. Before I left I needed to tell her- she should know how she touches people's lives- and I meant it. She's like a fairy godmother of art - turning pumpkins into portfolios.

The Guests -Jarrett Krosoczka - Mac McCool - Mark McVeigh

Jarrett - Wow. Watching him paint a pig from Punk Farm- was amazing. His influences are almost the same as mine- but he had a lot of fine art training. Somewhere along the way in his brain, - John Singer Sargent met Charles Schulz- and fireworks went off. Brush strokes and paint smears where pencil and ink line used to define cartoon characters- it wowed me. His new series is a traditional yet uniquely him spin on comic books with his MG graphic novel series "Lunch Lady". I really like how budget limitations- begat color limitations- begat a cool look. Black/lunch glove yellow and white- with subtle gradations- of those colors. Gives it it's signature. - everyday is made better with tater tots. My daughter can't wait for these books - (me either) I gave her my post card. On top of his artistic gifts- he's got some real words of wisdom. Believe in yourself. It WILL happen.

Mac - huge surprise for me. HUGE. I told him he had me at "Terry and the Pirates" - he referenced the old paper comic strip and I felt a zing!- Oh My gosh!- I luv Terry and the Pirates- and Steve Canyon - and Wil Eisner- and comic books and anything drawn in frames... printed in a comic book... colored with little dots...

He gave a graphic novel workshop that 7 people attended. Every single person at the conference would have learned tons from him. Pacing- composition- economy of words - setting- mood- point of view....really- everyone involved in literature needs to get thee to the comic book store!!! It's all there- boiled down between soft covers- printed on newsprint - some of the best storytelling and art married together. Any way- I can't say all that I learned- but I did learn a lot. And anyone within a few states of CA should take his class at Cal State. I want to. Watch for him at local SCBWI conferences- he's like finding treasure.

Coming from him - I think I got the best compliment I've ever gotten "You can draw like mad." - I think I'll post that on my wall.

Mark- is a literary agent out of NYC. Formerly an editor @ Simon and Schuster - Scholastic - Harper Collins and Golden Books. Wow- that alone is muy muy impressive. Now he has started an agency to champion creative people and I think on a mission to elevate graphic novels. - cool huh? He had so much business information- and could communicate it to us in a direct - honest yet fair way. I'm thrilled to meet someone so experienced in publishing that cares about the art but will tell you if it will sell or not frankly and not harshly.

Plus- I got to see great friends - old ones and new ones. Some of the people who attended the conference have become friends also. I think the smaller conferences are where I feel more comfortable- but LA here I come.

Magical moments happened for me at this conference. Wonderful things were said about my work. Let me say to you guys out there - just when you're ready to throw in the towel- pick up the pencil. Just keep drawing. What I showed this weekend was mostly done in the last 3 months. It was also work I did for my own enjoyment. I remembered I love to make art- to make art. I like to tell myself stories- when I draw- and they make me laugh and that enjoyment comes out in the art. Take a deep breath and -draw.


Diandra Mae said...

Yay Kelly! Way to go! I'm so happy that you had such a great experience. :) I saw Jarrett and Mac speak at a NY conference years ago and I agree with everything you've said about them. (Mac especially!)

Glad you've received some validation. Can't wait to see you in LA!

sam said...

Sounds like one I really should have been at! So glad you had such a great experience. May LA be the same.

Mac McCool said...

Haha, Kelly! You captured for posterity one of my finer grammatical moments! Keep up the great work! Thanks for all the kind words! And you're now a "don't give up on your dream" poster-girl and ambassador (what a journey -- I'm thrilled you stuck with it!). BTW, your postage stamp drawings a few posts ago are phenomenal, and some reminded me of Coles Phillips fadeaway girls; are you familiar with them? Great 1920-30s illustrations!

Kelly Light said...

Yes Mac! I am a big Coles Phillips fan and really think about those fadeaway girls a lot. Such amazing design and color.

I just got back my daughter's end of school- good report card- yea! it's summer celebratory trip to the comic book store. We bought a lot...... Great to hear her ask the guy behind the counter when Amulet 2 is coming out "I've been waiting like a year!" - does a Mom proud!

Anthony VanArsdale said...

man I've gotta get to another conference. Glad it was a good experience, but I know you're not one to quit... you're too good!

Pascale Mackey said...

It WAS an amazing conference. Jarrett, Janeen, Mac and Mark rock! We are so very lucky.
It was so good to see you again Kelly. You deserve every good thing that you're getting, you have earned it! Have a great time in LA!