SCBWI Canada East Blog

February 21, 2017

11:20 AM 3

Reworked illustration based on feedback received during the 2016 conference.

The May SCBWI Canada East conference is still 3 months away but I’m already making preparations. Are you attending? Undecided? Either way, ask yourself this question: What do you want to get out of a conference?

  • For my first conference I wanted to enjoy the experience, learn as much as I could, and get a feel for how my art would be received.
  • Last year my goal was to get as much feedback as possible on my illustration and writing as well as to learn what needs improvement in my art.
  • My goals for the conference in May? Practice my networking skills, receive further feedback, reconnect, share, & give back

Knowing what you want to get out of a conference will help you decide when choosing between conferences or between streams/workshops when registering. As a writer/illustrator I often struggle choosing between the author sessions or illustrator workshops. Wouldn’t it be great to be in two places at once?

To ensure you achieve your goals I recommend turning them into specific & SMART goals. Yes, I actually sit down & write it out!

Here’s mine from last year:
    • Gain as much feedback as possible by:
      • entering a portfolio with PB Dummy,
      • purchasing portfolio review & ask about areas for improvement
      • Purchasing a manuscript review using a different manuscript,
      • entering first pages session using a third manuscript
    • Reconnect & Make new connections by:
      • taking & sharing sketchnotes (this is a great conversation starter!)
      • participate in sketchcrawl

I got a lot out of the conference last year but I think I would have gotten even more from it had I taken the time to repeat this exercise for my portfolio review. With only 15 minutes, coming prepared with questions would have been helpful for myself and the art director.

The same illustration in my 2016 portfolio with it's ho hum background. 

There are things you can start doing now to reach your conference goals. Especially for illustrators!

What can you do now?
    • Start preparing manuscripts, portfolios, & dummies (if you don’t regularly update your portfolio, now is the time to review - cut your weakest pieces, make note of what you want to add to your portfolio - this might mean revising an older piece, adding in new works already completed, or planning new works that might be good portfolio pieces)
    • Networking - calculate when you’ll need to order business cards/postcards
    • Anticipate time needed to complete pre-conference assignments for illustration workshop! Starting your other conference preparations now will give you more time once the assignment is sent out.
    • Make note of the deadlines!
    • Have a look at other resources available on conference preparation (google 'conference preparation SCBWI).

Please comment with any other tips or advice!

My redesigned business card.


  1. I've only been to regional conferences. I think you hit the nail on the head with the suggestion to *set goals* and make them realistic. Best to you three months from now, and here's to meeting goals.

  2. Ooo, I love the reworked illustration with the detailed background. Who would have thought background could make such a difference. It really adds a lot of interest. Good luck at the conference! Sounds like you're well prepared.

  3. like the reworked background - really cute illustration