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.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

While we know our chats seem effortless and often fly by the seat of our pants, we do put some thought and planning into them. We try to meet your needs as professionals in the publishing industry.

With that in mind, here is another call for topics. Brainstorm and consider all you wish to discuss, learn about, figure out, and just plain understand. No topic is too silly or taboo-as long as it's related to illustration and/or the children's publishing industry.

We still have a pretty great line up of topics through the end of the year, so anything posted here will most likely put into rotation starting in January.

You guys helped create a pretty great little community, and we'd like to keep that going, so be sure to leave your thoughts down in the comments section.


Thursday, July 17, 2014


Congratulations on completing the annual #kidlitart Picture Book Dummy Challenge, everyone!  We know it was a struggle at times, but you stuck with it, and now you get to say you're winner! Congratulations to everyone who participated. We hope you have a solid picture book mock-up ready for submission to publishers and/or agents ready to go.

(Winner's badge forthcoming. The tablet and pen are being real tools right now. haha! Get it?)

To celebrate all of the hard work you have put into this challenge, we are rewarding you with a surprise! Julie Matysik, editor of Sky Pony Press, will read #PBDummy Challenge submitted pitches and select one or two for submission. That’s right folks, your picture book dummy could be reviewed and critiqued by an editor!

Now, in order to participate:
1.You need to have signed up with us here
2. You have a complete dummy: complete manuscript, sketched out spreads, plus at least one completed final art spread.
3. You must submit your two-sentence pitch in the comments section of this post by midnight on July 24th
4.If you need help on formatting a pitch check out: this post or this one or this.

Well done, everyone. Now that you've completed the process, the next one should be a cakewalk. HA!

Good luck!
Diandra, Renee, and Russ
ps.- Don't forget that next week we will have Postcard Boost #2. Get those promo sketches ready!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Critique Groups!

Last week we discussed Critique Groups on our weekly chat, and it was a lively discussion (as most of them are.) You can read the transcript here

We thought it'd be helpful to our #kidlitart community if we listed folks interested in getting together with other illustrators to form a critique group, whether face to face or online, the parameters are up to you, dear chatters.

Remember, to make the most of your group, set a regular deadline: weekly, bi-monthly, etc. at a regular time. Decide on the number you want to cap your group participation at, and state what you hope to get from the group up front so you guys are all on the same page. Deicide what form works best: Skype, Google+ Hangouts, email, private blog, etc.

And don't forget, when performing your critiques, use the 'Sandwich': Start with a positive assessment, move on to something that needs improvement (suggest a possible technique or approach to help with this if possible), and close with a positive comment. Remember, you're not supposed to tear each other down, but you're not supposed to blow smoke up each other's bums, either!

In no particular order:
(Click on their name to contact)

Rubin Pingk
Andi Butler
Mary Flynn
Tami Traylor
Sue Rankin Pollard
Chris Jones
Eliza Kinkz
Dustin Hansen
Christine Mix
Scott Soeder
Emily Wayne
Lisa Thompson
Erika Barriga
Dani Duck
Takako Fisher
Autumn Seybert
Jo Swartz
Paul Weiner

If you're looking for a group, and your name is not on this list, add it in the comments section along with your twitter handle!
Happy Critiquing!


Thursday, May 15, 2014

NKH- Interview #2

You see that lovely Spingtime banner up there? That was created by the lovely Jenny Woodward. 

What? You don't recognize her? How could you not know Jenny? She's a #kidlitart regular! She's....oooh. You might her know her more like this: 

 Is that better? Right, moving on. Here's a little bit about the adorable art featured on the blog/
-What was your inspiration for the header?
 We have a lot of birds that live in/visit our backyard (when the squirrels aren’t chasing them off). I try to get outside in the mornings and watch them at the bird feeder we have close by. One morning there was a mama bird feeding her baby bird and that’s where the inspiration came from.
-What is your primary medium for the header?
Everything was done digitally in Photoshop using Kyle T Webster’s brush pack. Mostly I work in Photoshop using a Yiynova tablet but the banner was created with my laptop and mouse (what I had with me at the time).
-Are you currently working on any projects?
I’m currently doing some graphic design work and sketching ideas for the SCBWI Tomie dePaola prompt.
-Where can we find you online?
Website: (in the works)

-What are your favorite children's books?
There are sooo many! I’ll try to keep the list short :)
I’ll start with the book that got me into kidlit and back to drawing again- 
Children Make Terrible Pets by Peter Brown.
Mr. Tiger Goes Wild (really any book by Peter Brown)
Big Plans- Bob Shea/Lane Smith
Let’s Do Nothing- Tony Fucile
Tea Party Rules- Ame Dyckman/Keith Campbell
Can I Play too- Mo Willems
The Day the Crayons Quit- Drew Dewalt/Oliver Jeffers
- What's the best advice you've received from #kidlitart?
To keep drawing even you’re having a bad day and you think everything you draw is horrible. Some days I struggle to draw and might do 20 sketches and only have one that I end up liking...but it’s one more drawing I have than if I’d been too discouraged to start at all. When you’re really having a hard time then switch to something else whether it’s cooking, sculpting, reading etc. Sometimes you need that break to get the creativity flowing again.
I think the best thing about #kidlitart is that everyone is so kind and encouraging. You couldn’t ask for a better group of people. I always leave the chat feeling energized and ready to create. There’s lots of helpful information being shared, plus you get to connect with some extremely talented, genuinely nice people.
-Great! Any favorite #kidlitart topics?
My favorite chat so far has been the postcard critique. I loved seeing everyone’s artwork, their process and learning from the critiques. I’d like to see a topic on authors/illustrators and how they got started with picture books...what that process was like and what they learned after landing and completing their first book.
Thanks so much for your contribution, Jenny! We look forward to seeing more from you in the future. If you see Jenny online, be sure you thank her for the fabulous banner!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

GUEST(s): Greg Pizzoli and Number One Sam!

This week on the #kidlitart chat we have a special guest chatter: Greg Pizzoli!  He's no stranger to the chats, as he pops in regularly. He's one of us, and we're thrilled to have him chat with everyone this week about illustrating picture books.

 Here's a little background:

Greg Pizzoli is an author, illustrator and screen printer from Philadelphia.

His first picture book, The Watermelon Seed, was published by Disney*Hyperion Books and was the 2014 recipient of the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award. Greg's latest picture book, Number One Sam, received starred reviews from Publisher's Weekly, School Library Journal, and Kirkus, while the New York Times said Pizzoli's "zingy ice-pop colors and dramatically varied page compositions take home the blue ribbon."

Tasty worry wrapped in a sweet little package.
After college, Greg spent two years as a full-time volunteer in
AmeriCORPS from 2005-2006. In 2009, he received his MFA from the
University of the Arts in Philadelphia, where he now teaches

He lives in Philadelphia with his wife and two cats.

I first met Greg through his work. I saw it in the Portfolio Showcase at SCBWI LA and knew there was something special there. Since then, I've become a huge fan thanks to THE WATERMELON SEED.  (I actually yelped out loud when it was announced as the Geisel Award winner during the ALA award webcast. How often have you met the winners?!) You can see the really fun book trailer here.

You can also see Greg's work in fun places like Tattly, where you can get temporary tattoos, and Badge Bomb, where you can pick up reading badge buttons!

Now Greg has a new book out this week called NUMBER ONE SAM. Everyone, meet Sam:

It takes me down memory lane to my favorite book: GO, DOG, GO. I can't wait to see what is in store for Sam.

We asked Greg a few questions about his latest book.

1. Is Sam's story derived from a personal experience? It was at first, actually. I mean, I was never a dog. But I think it's safe to say that I, like most people, have a competitive side, and I've needed to learn how to be gracious and do the right thing.

2. What is your favorite thing about Sam? I don't know - he is fun to draw. I think if he was a real dog or person or something, his scarf might annoy me.

3. Sam struggles with not winning in the trailer. Does he want to be the best at EVERYTHING? He definitely wants to be the best at racing. I'm not sure about other stuff. I think when you align your identity with your accomplishments, it can get tricky when those accomplishments are diminished in some way. It can really disrupt your idea of who you are. I think Sam's character is just figuring that out.

4. What is Sam's favorite thing to do besides winning at the racetrack? Reading! He is a real book hound.

5. If Sam were to recommend a book, what would it be? I think he is partial to the Peanuts anthologies that Fantagraphics put out.

And even better, Greg is doing a giveaway with NUMBER ONE SAM! Here are the guidelines to enter:

1. Have a Twitter account
2. Participate in the #kidlitart chat on Thursday at 9pm EST
3. Following the chat, we will do a random drawing of the participants. The lucky winner will receive a personalized drawing of Sam like the one below.

See you Thursday night at 9pmEST on #kidlitart! Don't forget to check out tweetdeck or tweetchat.com if you want the experience streamlined.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Call For Topics

Howdy #kidlitart-ers! We're about to hit the end of our calendar of topics, so it's time to hear what you'd like to talk about on our weekly chats. I think we've established a few favorites, so we will definitely be revisiting : Postcard Boost, Show N Tell, and Art Crushes as well as checking in for the #PBDummy Challenge.

Do you have specific topics on craft you'd like to discuss? Promotion? Research? Publishing? Agents? Anything and everything to do with being an illustrator in the children's publishing industry is up for grabs. Give us your ideas in the comments, and we'll see what we can do to meet your needs.


p.s.- And remember! We're still looking for a Spring header for the blog. If you're interested in contributing, here are the guidelines: http://kidlitart.blogspot.com/p/header-faq.html

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

#kidlitart Round-Up

There's quite a bit going on for #kidlitart right now. Hopefully those of you participating in the Postcard Boost have mailed your postcards out. April 3rd was our unofficial deadline. If you haven't yet, I hope our Mailing Lists chat helped you create your resource and you'll be mailing out soon.

We had a wonderful Show-N-Tell chat last week! I was so excited to see everyone's works-in-progress. We will definitely be doing it again. You can read the transcript for that chat here

And despite what some of you may be seeing out your front door, Spring is here and we'd like to celebrate by updating our blog banner. Our current lovely bit of illustration was created by the lovely Nancy Colle (Interview here) If you'd like to show your #kidlitart spirit and share a piece of your work, here are the requirements:
 1) Create an illustration/design that is kidlitart-centric.
2) The name 'kidlitart' has to be a central image.
3) The dimensions of the piece should be (no wider than) 1050px x 150px
4) Be sure you save the final image to 72-100 dpi. No need to have a hi-res image online.
5) Be sure your name/initials are somewhere (discreetly)on the image.
6) Email the header image to kidlitart@gmail.com. We'll sort through and when we choose a new header for the season, we'll contact you and send questions so we can feature you in a blog interview.
7) If you'd like to create a new header for the Twitter account for @KidLitArt, resize your submitted illo to fit the 1252 x 626 size requirement.

Also, our topic for this week's chat is a #PBDummy Check-In. A couple of weeks ago we entered into Step Five: Full-Size Sketches. Hopefully you've moved into this stage after working out any kinks in your storyboard. Let us know if you are facing obstacles or have questions about where to go from here Thursday night at 9pm EST. 

That's it for now. As always, if you have any questions, shoot Russ, Renee, and I a tweet, or fill out our new handy-dandy form over in the sidebar.

Thank you for being a part of the #kidlitart community. It's a thriving place because of you!


Friday, March 14, 2014

Postcard Boost: Second Step

The next step after having designed your postcards is to create a mailing list of industry associates you would like to receive them. This step requires probably the most thorough and tedious work involved with promotional mailers: research. You often have to sift through a variety of sources and sites in order to place a name to a position or an address with a house. It is work, but it is very important work because you will use this information three to four times a year.

Last night at #kidlitart we discussed just how we find the information we are seeking and how we organize it. You can read the storify transcript here: http://storify.com/kidlitart/kidlitart-chat-mailing-lists

Be sure to join us next week as we discuss sketchbooks!


Monday, February 24, 2014


How about our new header, eh? That delightful winter wonderland was created by Nancy Colle.

She doesn't look familiar? What do you mean? Oh! Well, fellow #kidlitart chatters might recognize her best like this:

Better? Right then, on to the interview!
-What was your inspiration for the header?
 Incredible as it may sound -I love winter.When I was little I was always outside, -building forts,climbing things, and yes, making snow angels.
-What is your primary medium for the header?
  Watercolor - I enjoy it's freedom and fluidity.

-Are you currently working on any projects?
 Currently I have one complete PB dummy, another I'm revising,
 and an idea I've already picked for the #kidlitart PB challenge

-Where can we find you online? 
Twitter: @DonkeyTalking

-What are your favorite children's books?
  Press Here -by Herve Tullet
  Stone Soup -by Marcia Brown
  Walk On!- by Marla Frazee
  Bread & Jam for Frances - by the Hobans

- What's the best advice you've received from #kidlitart? the importance of SCBWI conferences; don't wait for perfect conditions, just draw;  rejection letters are not my epitaph.

-Great! Any favorite #kidlitart topics? Build your portfolio/ art directors/ Conference tips

Thank you, Nancy!

Do you want in on this header action? (I can't believe I typed that with a straight face) then start thinking SPRING! We'll be picking a new header in the next month or so to celebrate the incoming new season.

You can find the requirements here. Happy drawing!


Creating Appealing Characters

We had a fast and furious chat last week discussing character development and the important steps necessary to developing a great picture book dummy. The transcript is chock-full of links and resources, so be sure you read through and bookmark!


Once again, thanks to Renee for getting out transcript together! This week we're discussing Time Management. See you Thursday at 9pmEST!


p.s.- I'm still pulling names from the Art Crushes chat, but I'm about to move this week. I promise I'll share when the list is done and I have internet again. 

Monday, February 10, 2014

Postcard Boost Transcript

Our Postcard Boost chat flew by! There were equal parts constructive criticism and compliments. If you missed the chat, you can read the Storify transcript here:


Part 2 of our Postcard Boost will be our chat on Mailing Lists (How do we gather the information and maintain it?) on March 13th. Come with questions and any resources you use on maintaining one of the least glamorous parts of illustration. ;)


Friday, January 31, 2014

Postcard Boost

Sampling of postcards I picked up at SCBWI LA 2013.
A few times on #kidlitart, people have mentioned wanting a boost to help them get their next postcard promos mailed out. Mailing out a promo card on a regular basis is one of the simplest and most important acts of self-promotion an illustrator can do. 

That's not to say that there isn't some legwork involved. You have to have a mailing list compiled of the contacts and publishing houses you wish to submit to. This means you have to research submission guidelines and follow them. You have to know where and when you are getting your postcard printed, how much it's going to cost, what size you're mailing, and the guidelines to follow when submitting your design for print. You have to do your homework.

And believe it or not, as tedious as some of that research can be, it's the easiest part of the process. The real struggle comes with choosing an illustration, or creating a new illustration, to go on that postcard you are mailing out. How do you choose? And what's more, is what you're choosing going to work?

Well, we're going to give you a little help. You have one week to design (and we're talking sketches here, possibly color comps) your next postcard design. And at next week's #kidlitart chat, upload the card on to Twitter or share a link to the image, and as a group, we will give you feedback on your piece.

Keep in mind that everything is very subjective, but there are a few design principles and common sense facts that we can definitely help with. And remember that critique and feedback is part of being an illustrator. If you've never had one, you need to start developing a skin to deal with it and use it as a platform to growth and improvement.

Use the feedback you receive next week to revise and possibly improve your piece. Take it to full-color, get more feedback if necessary from fellow illustrators. Then in March, we'll have a mass #kidlitart mail-out deadline where everyone will send their cards to publishers. Deal?

Now get to work! We'll see you February 6th, at 9pm EST!


(And remember, this is a live chat. We'll have people submitting simultaneously, and things can get a little wild. Be patient and give people time to consider your piece. We'll all use our manners and wait our turn as much as possible.)