SCBWI Sydney 2019: My first Illustrator Showcase

Updated: Mar 6, 2019

Being my first Illustrator Showcase EVER, I arrived at Novotel nice and early; cool, calm and collected. I was directed in to the Showcase room and proceeded to look for my name tag which indicated my place for display. Setting up didn’t take long. Glancing around the room and seeing other illustrators set up their displays; that was when the nerves kicked in. Getting glimpses of their work and seeing the paraphernalia accompanying their portfolios made me feel inadequate. But they seemed anxious too. There’s no browsing. Once set up, we were to leave the room.

After a day jammed with info, sandwiched by smiles and conversations, we picked up our portfolios. We got to quickly flick through each others' work before being shepherded out of the room as they prepared for dinner that night.

You may browse through the 2019 Illlustrator Showcase here >

I wished I had paid for a portfolio assessment, because I had no idea who had seen my work and what they thought, what needed improvement, whether they picked up a card, and whether they would contact me? After the massive anticipation, it kind of fell flat and I felt a little lost.

When asked by a more experienced Illustrator, what’s next for me, I replied, “I don’t know. I guess I’m waiting for a story.” Then I remembered I DO have stories! My own! No pining by the inbox for me. Just keep busy and keep going. This is a long game.

Illustrator Showcase Award

Being new to this, I didn’t know there was such a thing as an award for best portfolio, which is probably a good thing for my ego and my nerves. Katrin Dreiling won this year, and there’s a lot we can learn from the benchmark she has set.

Onward and Upward

  • I’m setting my sights on KidLitVic in May.

  • I’ve formed an illustration critique group with some wonderful people I met at the conference.

  • I signed up to Project Portfolio along with hundreds of other illustrators.

  • I’m dusting off my picture book dummy, and exploring new stories.

  • I will go through my conference notes and pull out what I can implement.

Overall, it’s been a winning experience.


My notes from Sarah Davis' What Art Directors look for in portfolios >

If you’re interested in what else SCBWI SYD 2019 had to offer, like Allison Tait and Valerie Khoo’s presentation on How to make yourself more marketable as a writer for example, please check out their official blog.

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