Sunday, November 27, 2016

Packaging Your Imagination 2016 - Recap

Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending the 32nd annual Packaging Your Imagination conference this year held at Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute.

The opening keynote was author and illustrator, Ashley Spires, who did a wonderful job welcoming everyone with that doubt and insecurity that lingers in all creators at one time or another. Using those "not-good-enoughs" to drive us forward and learning to use them for good instead of evil.

"I will keep trying. I will keep learning. I will keep adapting and I will keep creating."

Setting the day up perfectly for a day of learning ahead.

There were so many great sessions to choose from but in the end I went with: 

Judy BrunsekPeeking Behind the Curtain: An Honest Look at Marketing Children's Books

In session one, Judy Brunsek gave us an inside look at Marketing Children's Books with a wealth of information from her years in the industry.

Marketing is like an ant hill, you see a bit going on up top but there is so much more happening below.

Wallace Edwards—The Law of the Jumble (Making Stuff Up)

In session two, illustrator Wallace Edwards took us through his process in The Law of the Jumble (Making Stuff Up), with many hidden images and beautiful illustrations.

My favourite was the pig at the party on the love seat (above) and also this guy << The Walrus who "had no intension of sharing his cupcake".  I just love him. It's an illustration from his book, Monkey Business, by Kids Can Press, depicting the idiom "Sweet Tooth".

Wallace also brought in some of the original illustrations for us to have a look at during the session. Beautiful work.

And what would be PYI be without hearing what's going on in the industry with the Publisher Panel:

Panel: Publishers and Agents

  • Barbara Berson (freelance editor, and a literary agent with the Helen Heller Agency, specializing in YA, adult fiction and memoir.)
  • Christie Harkin (consultant publisher and fiction editor at Clockwise Press, and former children's book publisher at Fitzhenry & Whiteside)
  • Suzanne Sutherland (children's editor at HarperCollins Canada. She is also the author of three novels for teens and young readers)
  • Michael Solomon (art director at Groundwood Books)
  • Moderated by Peter Carver (children’s and young adult editor at Red Deer Press)

There were a lot of different tidbits that came out in this session, here are a few that I jotted down:

  • A stand alone website is still the best option for portfolio 
  • Be ruthless in curating 
  • Blogs are also very useful for sketches and process
  • If submitting digitally, multi-page PDF with a polished look 
  • Wants to see story telling, creative ideas (not process in character development) 
  • Parallels - what are you interested in offering? Put it out there

Query Letter?
  • Make sure it is short and to the point 
  • Suggested checking out Carly Watters, Literary Agent; does a great summary on her blog (**googled it after and here is the link: )
  • Have someone proof your query letter
  • One page maximum. 2-3 paragraphs 
  • Be concise
  • Associations you are a part of to show you're serious about your craft
  • No need to be chatty, get to the point

Most important piece of advise (and caution) for writers and illustrators looking to get published?
  • Have patience and manage your expectations
  • Make sure your work is as good as it can possibly be before sending it, then don't give up. Don't stop
  • Research, research, research. Make sure no one has done it before
  • Read the submission guidelines

Sydney SmithChanging Illustration Styles

With all these amazing sessions throughout the day, my favourite was Sydney Smith. Not only is his work itself beautiful and inspiring, as well as his ability to change style with his subject matter, but seeing him work through his process from text to finished product was amazing to see.

We got a sneak peek into an upcoming book, Town Is By The SeaWritten by Joanne Schwartz (publisher Groundwood).

Hearing the story read aloud, it was already quite moving. Generating conversation on details to take note of, rhythm and pacing, medium that could be used, etc. Then Sydney described his process, having the opportunity to go to Cape Breton where the story takes place. Experience the mines, take photos of the landscape, see the way of life.

The story was read again, this time paired with the illustrations. It was very powerful. Together the text and images work beautifully. I am looking forward to when it's released.

A few tips from the session:

  • Make the illustrations necessary to the words (adds/supplements)
  • Let the illustrations take over in a moment that needs to be punctuated. Let it sit in.
  • Use pages for pacing.
  • Illustrations that can contradict the text

The day ended with a lovely keynote by David Booth and the power of books in children's lives. A great ending to the day.

The whole day was wonderful. Very inspiring and definitely makes me want to get creating.

I'll end with this recap with one of the thoughts from Sydney Smith's handout that I really liked (that is now tacked to my board):

Happy creating everyone!

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