Yesterday, I had the pleasure of talking to children's book illustration majors and graduate students at the SCAD Atlanta campus downtown. Rick Lovell invited me and fellow children's book creator, Ami Blackford, to share our different perspectives of breaking into the industry and self promotion. We spoke to students from Rick's class as well as Jay Montgomery's and Julie Meuller-Brown's, all master illustrators themselves. It was so interesting discussing with them how the business has changed over the years, from the "golden days of illustration" to the present.
I met Rick through Illustration Friday when he asked me to do portfolio reviews for the last graduating class of the Atlanta College of Art (which was absorbed by SCAD). There I met Ami, who was graduating and had already nailed her first book contract through Red Cygnet Press's student publishing competition. So, our perspectives were "starting out" and "been there, done that." Ami and I made a great team as we hopped back and forth on various subjects and answered questions. I truly love passing on information and experience to those starting out, so had a great time.
Rick gave us a tour of SCAD before our talk, and I have to say I was impressed beyond words. In fact, my jaw scraped the floor through most of the building. Everything was so well designed, clean, and above all, professionally handled, I was blown away. This is a serious institution. The impression I got was they are not trying to turn out "just" artists, but working professionals who will be able to make a living with their crafts. In today's competitive illustration market, that is a directive of the highest standard. I was highly, highly impressed.