What an exciting regional SCBWI Conference!
The Speakers! The breakout sessions! The shmoozing! The portfolio show! The chocolate chip cookies (crispy delicious)!
Oh, I was, no, I AM, inspired. I heard so may great things that I couldn't possibly write about everything, so I will focus on one thing: Grace Lin's Keynote. There are many women children's book illustrators, but not many who headline at conferences. It was fantastic to see a woman illustrator give the keynote on Saturday.
Her talk was so inspiring. I was chatting with other conference attendees on why it was so special, and we all agreed. Her talk went straight to the heart.
First of all, she projected (on the big screen) an illustrated story of her early years when she relentlessly drew pictures of herself winning the gold medal for ice skating (she drew herself as a hipopotomus, which she doesn't resemble at all in real life). Turns out when actual skates hit actual ice, drawing was a better career choice. After art school, one question begged an answer. "Why am I imitating the Old Masters? Where is my art?"
She realized "I needed to find my own voice and my own vision, and I had to stop copying other people. And I realized I was doing art for all the wrong reasons—so I could show off. But you shouldn't do art for praise, approval, or to stroke your ego." She put her classical training aside and said she would paint something to make her happy.
And that is the heart of the matter. After all her training she still had to find herself. She painted something to make her happy, something from her heart. Today she is an artist, a children's book illustrator, and a novelist. I'd say that's right up there with a gold medal for ice skating.