This is the blog home of #kidlitart, a live Twitter chat Thursdays at 9:00 pm Eastern, for children's book illustrators, picture book authors, author/illustrators and friends. Check back weekly to read transcripts, comment on previous chats and suggest topics for upcoming chats.

Thursday, January 5, 2017


After years of doing the Picture Book Dummy Challenge, we here at #kidlitart wanted to mix things up. One of the most important factors in an illustrator getting assignments is their portfolio, so we're going back to basics. This year we are going to be kicking off the Build A Portfolio Challenge, or #BAPC. Here is the rundown:

1. During the last #kidlitart chat of each month a #BAPC portfolio prompt will be announced. For those seeking a real challenge, a secondary prompt will also be offered for each month. These prompts are to be completed during the month following the announcement. The goal is to have new pieces to add to your portfolio when the challenge concludes this summer. Whether that number is six or twelve, it is up to you.

2. The chats where the prompts are announced will focus on the theme of the prompt shared. Obviously everyone and anyone will still be able to participate in the chat. It will be children's illustration centered.

3 We will have three scheduled Show & Tells for participants to share their #BAPC pieces for critique, or just to get a pat on the back for finishing. If participants would like additional critique  this can take place in the #kidlitart Challenge FB group and will be self-directed.

4.  When you post your work on Twitter and especially Instagram, be sure to tag it with #BAPC so the #kidlitart community sees it! It wouldn't hurt to tag it with #kidlitart, either.

5. After every #BAPC prompt is announced in the #kidlitart chat, it will be added to the list below so that folks who miss the chat can keep up.

#BAPC Prompts: 
1. Create an illustration featuring HUMANS (aged from infants->toddlers) interacting. How many and what they’re doing is up to you, but they need to be LITTLE KIDS.

(Optional) Create a second piece featuring a small group of young children sporting different emotions and expressions than the first piece you illustrated.

*Keep in mind those chats about accurately reflecting the diverse world we live in as well as using your voice (personality) in the creation process.
*Remember our chats about varying expressions and how your portfolio shouldn't be filled with happy-happy-happy. Variety is the spice of life!
*This is also a great time to explore your character poses and postures. Expression isn't just in the face!
*Have FUN.







Questions? Comment below!

Monday, August 22, 2016


We like to keep things fresh on #kidlitart, so every once in a while we do a call for topics. What is something you would like to discuss again on the chat, or something we've never covered that you'd like to hear about? Topics can be about career, tools, or techniques. Topics can be abstract, silly, or really specific. It's whatever you want to discuss with the community. 

(We'll still have Show & Tell, Postcard Boosts, and Open Topic in the mix, so don't worry)

Thursday, February 4, 2016

The Twenty-Nine (Happy Leap Year!) Day Art Challenge

Howdy, #kidlitart-ers!

We're so happy you're jumping into February's Twenty-Eight Day Challenge with us.

The topic for the chat on February 4th was all about finding your voice as an illustrator. Our idea is to give y'all a chance to springboard yourselves further into finding the answer to that question.

Here are the guidelines:

1. Draw something every day for the month of February. (Or really, as often as you can.) The medium is up to you: traditional, digital, combined mediums-whatever works.

2. Each day should feature a theme, creature, idea, character, etc. that you LOVE. You are illustrating things that you are ALL ABOUT. Not just as an artist. As a person. What tickles your fancy? What do you geek out about? What stories would you tell if you just had the chance?

b. You can choose to focus on ONE theme the entire month, or do a different theme every day.

3. The finish of each illustration is up to you. It can be a simple pencil or pen sketch, or you can take it all the way to full color.
      b. You can challenge yourself by setting a time limit. Say, 29 minutes? 

4. Post every day (or as often as you can) to tumblr, Instagram, Facebook, etc., but especially Twitter (so #kidlitart-ers can see) your love of the day. And tag it with #kidlitart29

5. No, you do not have to be an official member of #kidlitart to participate. Everyone is welcome.

Our hope is that at the end of this challenge you will be able to look back at these sketches and see the stories, themes, and characters that appeal to you the most. With a bank of beloved topics, who wouldn't be inspired to then create a new picture book, comic, or novel? Wouldn't you want to take at least one of those illustrations further and see where they take you?

We hope so.

So start brainstorming about what you'd be happy to draw for twenty-nine days straight. .

Wednesday, February 3, 2016


2016 Return of the Picture Book Dummy Challenge!


You can participate in the #Kidlitart 2016 Picture Book Dummy Challenge here on the blog or on Twitter via the #PBDummy hashtag, or on Facebook via this group.

What is it?
A six month-long online group challenge to create and submit a picture book dummy.

Start date: January 14, 2016

End date: July 21, 2016

Who can join?Anyone! Though geared primarily toward author/illustrators, writers who are not artists can benefit from portions of the dummy exercise, and illustrators without an original manuscript can use the process to create a dummy portfolio piece.

Can I participate without attending kidlitart Twitter chats?
Yes, the challenge steps will be posted here on the blog--but we encourage you to take advantage of all avenues for joining in the discussion: leave comments here; drop by #kidlitart at 9 pm Eastern on Thursday nights; and check in with your Twitter colleagues any time via the challenge hashtag: #PBDummy. (Starting in January, you can also download the twibbon created by Diandra Mae to show your participation.)

Do I have to post my work online?
No! We will be discussing the steps in general terms. If you wish to receive feedback or critiques on specific ideas or artwork, you are free to exchange messages or post images with trusted partners in protected venues. DO NOT post original artwork in comments here: please be mindful of the nature of the internet and use caution when posting art ANYWHERE.

What if I don’t want to create a picture book dummy? Will I be left out of #kidlitart until July? Not at all! Most of the challenge activity will take place here on the blog or via the #PBDummy hashtag. We will schedule a progress chat to correspond with each of the nine steps, but the remainder of the chats will cover the entire range of topics of interest to picture book illustrators and friends of the genre.

Are there any rules for the challenge?
No rules at all for participating, except to register your participation on the blog by January 31st. The idea is to have a great time while accomplishing something useful. If you’ve ever taken part in a similar challenge, you know the value of community: checking in regularly, encouraging others, allowing yourself to be held accountable to a schedule—all this will help you get the most from the experience.

Part II: Brass Tacks
What is a picture book dummy, anyway?
A picture book dummy is a facsimile of a printed book: text and images laid out on paper cut into pages which are then gathered and “bound” to approximate an actual book. A dummy can be extremely simple or very elaborately produced—but the defining characteristic is the page turn.

A physical dummy allows you to simulate the experience of reading a book. For the author/illustrator, a dummy aids in establishing and editing the visual context into a series of isolated page spreads viewed the way a reader will experience them. It can also be an important tool for exposing flaws in the pace of a manuscript or help to establish natural dramatic breaks in the story line.

Who should create a picture book dummy, and why?
There are three reasons to create a picture book dummy:

a) As mentioned above, a dummy is an important tool for structuring a picture book, and is a recommended exercise for polishing any manuscript. A writer who is not an illustrator can benefit from creating a simple dummy, but should NOT include it as part of the submission.

b) An illustrator who is not an author might consider creating a picture book dummy of a fairy tale or some other familiar text in the public domain, as a portfolio piece. A successful dummy will demonstrate that the illustrator understands how to structure a story within the constraints of the standard picture book format.

c) An author/illustrator should consider including a picture book dummy as part of the submission package for any original manuscript he or she wishes to illustrate. This will give the editor, art director or agent reviewing your submission the clearest idea of the viability of the project. For the purposes of this challenge, we will assume that this is the goal. If you are producing a dummy for any other reason, you may find that some of the challenge steps don’t apply to your project—but we hope they will be enlightening, nevertheless. 

Each step in the challenge will be introduced by a post here on the kidlitart blog.   You are invited to check in via the comments section or the Facebook group at any time to share your progress or ask questions and there will be a “How’s it going?” chat scheduled at the close of each step in the process, to keep us on course.


STEP 1: Pick your project (1 week) Jan 14-20

STEP 2: Draft the story (4 weeks) Jan 21-Feb 18 
(If you already have a story/are using a #writedummy story, take this chance to go over with a fresh eye. Maybe have it go through your critique group one more round. Create character interviews and answer any questions you may have in sketch form.)

STEP 3: Develop the character studies (2 weeks) Feb 19-Mar 3

STEP 4: Storyboard text and art (2 weeks) Mar 3-Mar 17

STEP 5: Render tight, full-size sketches (8 weeks) Mar 17-May 12

STEP 6: Produce final art of two spreads (4 weeks) May 12 - June 9

STEP 7: Assemble the dummy (2 weeks ) Jun 9-Jun 23

STEP 8: Research submissions; prepare dummy package (1 week) Jun 23-Jun 30 

STEP 9: Submissions (1 week) Jul 7-Jul 14 

STEP 10: Celebrate! #PBDC Wrap Party Jul 21 

There will be blog posts for most of the challenge's steps here and they will be posted on the Thursday the topic is discussed. Links will be shared during the #kidlitart chats. Keep an eye on the blog and get ready to work! 

Thursday, January 14, 2016

2016 #PBDummy Sign Up

I'll put some motivating and inspiring words here later for y'all, but this is the post where you need to comment with your first and last name to let us know that you'll be participating in the 2016 Picture Book Dummy Challenge. You plan to complete the mission and all that. ;)

Deadline is January 31st!

Week 1-Getting Started

When we were talking about the return of the Picture Book Dummy Challenge, we were hopeful that because of the #writedummy challenge, and our growing community that participants, would have at the very least a solid idea that they would want to pursue and turn into a picture book dummy. 

Now is the time for everyone to take a good look at that idea notebook you have stashed away and follow through on one of those ideas.  We're going to make a picture book. 

If you are at a loss as to what to do: You didn't write a story for #writedummy, you have no idea notebook to pull from, you didn't even find out about #kidlitart or any of this until TODAY as a matter of fact- don't worry. You have plenty of time to figure out what you're going to do. In fact, why don't you head to Tara Lazar's blog and read up on all of the archives she has for her PiBoIdMo (picture book idea month)? 

If you find yourself stuck because you have so any ideas you're not sure where to turn, ask yourself this: which idea is one that only YOU can bring to life? Which idea makes you feel a little dizzy with the excitement of turning it into a book? Which idea makes you sick just thinking about it never being seen by anyone else or being shown in the light of day? Which idea are your fingers positively itching to wrap a pencil around? THAT'S the idea for you. 

That idea is one you are passionate about. And you're going to need passion. Creating a book is a long, sometimes slow, process. You're going to need passion to drive you and push you and help you endure the wait.  

Enough talking, it's time for some action. We have quite a journey ahead of us. 




Thursday, September 10, 2015

Announcing The #writedummy Challenge

2016 will kick off another round of the Picture Book Dummy Challenge. In anticipation of this, and to help everyone gear up without getting overwhelmed with all that happens at the beginning of the new year, #kidlitart is announcing a writing challenge for Fall of 2015!

Isn't this great? Moderator Rubin Pingk created it.
We'll help you along with getting a picture book story written with a basic schedule and chats covering: basic story elements, writing as an illustrator, and getting feedback from critique groups.

As part of signing up to participate in this challenge, you must read and sign the Honor Agreement linked below. It's mandatory and will help us prevent any misunderstandings about sharing work.

Participants will be sharing drafts and switching critique group partners three times to maximize feedback and to give everyone a chance to revise their stories and get them solidified before the year is over. Your critique group assignments will be emailed to you by #kidlitart moderator Blythe Russo.

In order to be considered for a critique group, you need to email Blythe at: blytherussoillustration (at) gmail (dot) com) state that you want to be part of the critique group, and that you have read the honor agreement, and include your signed copy of the code as well. 

Deadline for participation in this challenge (in order to be part of the critique group formation) is OCTOBER 1, 2015. 

If you would like to ask questions, discuss progress, or anything else outside of the #kidlitart chats and Twitter you are more than welcome to join our Facebook group here.  Please DO NOT post your manuscripts-in-progress in that group as there are folks from previous challenges in there who may not be participating in this current challenge.

Writing Challenge Schedule: (subject to change)

Brainstorm Three Ideas
September 10
Pick Story, Character Interviews
September 17
Outline Story: Plot Chart
September 24
Draft #1/Sign-Up Deadline
October 1
New Crit Group Assmts:
Finish Draft #1
October 8
Swap Draft #1 w/ group, feedback, revise
October 15
New Crit Group Assmts:
 Draft #2
October 22
Finish Draft #2
October 29
Swap Draft #2, feedback, revise
November 5
New Crit Group Assmts: 
Draft #3
November 12
Swap Draft #3, feedback, revise
November 19
Finish Draft #3
November 26
Final Draft.
Homework: Elevator Pitches
December 3
Elevator Pitches
December 10

Honor Agreement Can Be Read and Printed from HERE

And it goes without saying that if you're part of this challenge you will be upholding your end of the deal by reading and providing feedback for all manuscripts you may be sent. It's only fair as you're seeking the same for your own story. Those who consistently fail to uphold the agreement will be removed from the challenge and critique groups.