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, November 21, 2013

2014 Picture Book Dummy Challenge FAQ:

You can participate in the #Kidlitart 2014 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 13, 2014

End date: July 17, 2014

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! Starting in 2014, 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. 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 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.

*To avoid repeating ourselves, you will be directed to either the archived post from last year, or to the pdf compilation, for links and tips associated with each step.


STEP 1: Pick your project (1 week) Jan 12-18

STEP 2: Draft the story (4 weeks) Jan 19-Feb 15

STEP 3: Develop the characters (2 weeks) Feb 16-Mar 1

STEP 4: Storyboard text and art (2 weeks) Mar 2-Mar 15

STEP 5: Render tight, full-size sketches (8 weeks) Mar 16-May 10

STEP 6: Produce final art of two spreads (4 weeks) May 11 - June 7

STEP 7: Assemble the dummy (2 weeks ) Jun 8-Jun 21

STEP 8: Research submissions; prepare dummy package(1 week) Jun 22-Jun 28

STEP 9: Submit (1 week) Jul 6- Jul 12 (Because of the July 4th holiday)

STEP 10: Celebrate! July 17 #kidlitart chat Wrap Party

That’s it! Ten easy steps to dummy success. Ready to get started? Sign up in the comments section below and bookmark this site: Step 1 launches Monday, January 13.

Good luck!


Our official twibbon. You'll be able to add one in January.
The return of the #kidlitart Picture Book Dummy Challenge! 

For those of you who have been around #kidlitart since the beginning, this was a challenge started by Bonnie Adamson, Wendy Martin, and (silently) myself back in 2009. It kicked off in 2010 and was a great success. We did it again in 2011 bigger and better. When the chat went on hiatus last year, the challenge was unofficially carried on by an enthusiastic member of our #kidlitart community.

Well, with the return of the #kidlitart chat in 2013, we've decided why not bring back one of the most useful tools for those starting out in this crazy business? (And get a kick in the pants for any projects we might be letting sit around in a drawer as a bonus.)

The guidelines, schedule, and FAQ are on the next post. Be sure to read up and sign up in the comments on the next post so we know who's going to be joining us on this party boat. ha!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Nov 14th: After the Book Deal

We have the exciting opportunity to hear from two talented illustrators who can speak from experience of what life is like once "Book Deal" is marked off the bucket list.

Kelly Light:
*I don’t remember not knowing what I wanted to do with my life. Aside from a brief Broadway dream of being ANNIE! when I was 9, I have always wanted to be a cartoonist. Cartoons in all forms, paper, t.v., cinema, books and design…  cartoons have always rocked my world.
*I was an Archie and Harvey comic fanatic but I would read all of my older brother’s comics too.
*My studio is the attic of my house in N.Y.. I have a Tudor home, so the walls are slanted making it difficult to get things to stick. Uhg! Gravity! Things fall on my head sometimes. I do like it up here, it’s like being in a tree house. Just hope the neighbors stop cutting down their trees!

 * I used to have a career in cartoon merchandise. From famous character t-shirts to theme park merchandise and every thing in between that could have a mouse or rabbit printed on it. It was both fun and non-fulfilling. There was free swag.
*Before that I did have a bright and gloriously brief stint in animation. In college, (Syracuse University) I was hired out of class by my animation teacher to work at his studio in downtown Syracuse. Animotion, Inc. -they were great guys. I lived in Los Angeles for a few years and interned and p.a.’d and cleaned peoples work stations all for free until I moved back to N.Y. and kept doing it for free until I took the job in merchandising.
*I work digitally in Photoshop. I still do most of my drawing by hand and color it up in Photoshop. I got a Cintiq recently and that has been an exciting change in how I work.
*I collect different old things. A lot of artists do this – collect things. I wonder what makes us do it?
You can see Kelly's work here and her blog here.

Molly Idle has been drawing ever since she could wield a pencil. But while she started scribbling before she could walk, her professional career as an artist began slightly later…
It was upon her graduation from Arizona State University, with a BFA in Drawing, that Molly accepted an offer to work for DreamWorks Feature Animation Studios.  After five years, a number of film credits, and an incredibly good time, she left the studio and leapt with gusto into the world of children's book illustration!

Molly now lives in Arizona with her brilliant husband, two wonderfully mischievous sons, and two snugly cats. When not making mischief with her boys or watching old Technicolor musicals, she can be found at her desk scribbling away, with a pencil in one hand and a cup of espresso in the other- creating a plethora of profoundly whimsical picture books!

You can see Molly's wonderful work here and read her blog here. (She is part of the mini-interviews crew, it's worth a read!)

Thursday, October 17, 2013

October 24th: Guest Chatters!

Next week we will have agents from Sadler-Cavarette Literary joining us for our weekly chat. More information to come, but if you have any questions you'd like answered, please leave them in the comments section below. We'll pull from the comments section next week, and try to make sure everyone gets a chance to have their question answered. 

-your #kidlitart moderators

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Chat Transcripts April - September 2013 (#kidlitart)

Hi everyone!

Russ, Diandra, and I (Renee) want to thank everyone for helping to make Thursday's #kidlitart chats an enormously fun, useful hour for kidlit illustrators! We've been going strong for 16 weeks and we're not planning to stop anytime soon!

Every week, after the chat, I post the transcript to Storify. That way, if you miss the chat or want to reference a conversation from the night, it's available! Below is a list of every topic we've covered so far and a link to the corresponding transcript. Just a little light reading... ;)

If you have any suggestions for upcoming topics you'd like to discuss in the coming weeks, please leave a comment here or tweet at @kidlitart using the hashtag #kidlitart.

Thanks so much everyone! We have the best, most supportive community of artists EVER!

25 - Do’s and Don’ts : Conference Etiquette 

2-Dreaming Big

9- How You Promote Yourself?

16- Sources of Inspiration (doesn't have to be directly art-related)

23- Editing Your Portfolio (knowing when to cut old/weak pieces)

30- Refreshing Non-Art Activities (filling the creative well outside of art)

6- Favorite Tools (mediums, software, programs, etc.)

13- Book Keeping (software, methods, How do you run your business?)

20- Opportunities (conferences, contests, gallery shows, workshops, retreats, etc.)

27- Following Up (post-submission, post-conference contact, etc.)

11- Checking in on Professional Goals in 2013

18- Online vs. Paid Book/Directory Presence

25- What do you wish you had known at the beginning? (Topic suggested by Penguin Art Director, Giuseppe Castellano)

1- General Chat

8- Must-Have Children's Books.

15- Sketching (How often & what're your subjects?)

22- Online Resource Share (articles, tutorials, etc.)

29- Museums & Other Points of Interest for Artists

5- Classroom Visits and New Art Supplies

12 - Dealing w/ Distractions

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

"What Do You Wish..." -Topic for July 25, 2013

This week's topic was suggested by Penguin art director Giuseppe Castellano via Twitter.

(Giuseppe gives out a lot of great advice regarding a career in children's illustration via #arttips. If you're not following him, you should be! You can find him: @pinocastellano  )

Giuseppe wants to know "What do you wish your art school would have taught you that would have better prepared you for your career in illustration?"

Not all of us went to art school, so we'd also like to ask "What do you wish you had known at the beginning of your journey into children's illustration?"

There's a lot of meaty detail to get into for sure. We can't wait to discuss it with you! See you Thursday night at 9pm EAST, 8pm CST, 6pm PST. Don't forget to use tweetchat.com or tweetdeck. It makes the chat much easier to follow.

See you then.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

We're Baaaaaack!

Starting on April 18th, the #kidlitart chats will resume with all new moderators! Spread the word, and please join us for an hour of inspiration, information, and a good ole-fashioned chat around the water cooler.

Your moderators are:

Russ Cox (Blog)

Renee Kurilla (Blog)

Diandra Mae (Blog)

Come by and say hi!

You've never been to a TweetChat and want to know what #kidlitart is all about? Take a look at our FAQ page!