Thursday, August 22, 2013


I was saddened to hear of the untimely passing of my friend and fellow illustrator Wilson Williams Jr. Not only was he talented, he was a champion for other fellow illustrators. We first became friends on the SCBWI forums, sharing our experiences and gripes about this business. Wilson was a co-creator of the site Once Upon a Sketch, a tremendous resource for other children's book illustrators. When he asked me to contribute to his site, I couldn't have been more honored. He worked tirelessly to promote children's illustration, always thinking of others before himself. Fitting that in our last conversation, I had just returned from my conference and he wanted to know how it went. That was the kind of guy Wilson was. A gentle soul, a kind heart, a talent, and a true friend. He will be missed tremendously. 


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The LA Experience...SCBWI Style

What a long weekend it has been! All I can say was a true LA experience! We had all the cliches; the glitz, the glamour, the fancy award ceremonies with shiny trophies and acceptance speeches, a black & white gala, and of course,  no LA experience would be complete without your celebrity sightings!(though it was only Richard Simmons, so actually no not really)
Luckily for me, in between all this debauchery, I managed to squeeze in some very productive workshops and listen to some wonderful speeches given by some prominent people in children's publishing. Most were both inspiring and informative. Being my first time at an event like this, I wasn't sure what to expect, each day started bright and early and lasted throughout the day. SCBWI tried to pack as much as they could in these days, and so, it was pretty much non-stop. The big advice I received from people who had attended these conferences before were to pace yourself, talk to as many new people as you can, and have fun! And I think I did my best to do just that.

When I first decided to attend, I was really excited to meet two people for the first time, my rep Mela, whom I had been working with for over 5 years, but have never meet in person. The second was David Wiesner, a longtime fan and an admirer of his work.

Hmmm...What's there to say about Mela Bolinao? As an agent, obviously I think she's great. I liken her to a mini-dynamo, a whirling dervish, constantly on the move. From giving advice, critiquing portfolios, and presenting at workshops, all weekend she was bouncing from one thing to another. I suppose it might be a New York thing. Before this weekend, our relationship had been solely a business one. We communicated through emails, and most of our conversations consisted mainly of "are you interested in this job", "I need more work", "please fix this face", "please fix this color" and "this only pays WHAT and they need it WHEN". So it was really nice and refreshing to finally be able to interact on a more personal level. She got to meet my wife and son, and we got to hang out and talk shop and to also not talk shop. I found her surprisingly easy to talk to, even joke around with, something I'm not always the best at. I'm looking forward to our next encounter.     

Yes I assure you, that is my rep, Mela Bolinao on the screen there.

Hmmm...What's there to say about David Wiesner? As an author and illustrator, obviously I think he's great. A real master of his craft. You can really sense his passion and the love for what he does and all that really shows up in his work. The level of detail in all aspects of his picture book making process was nothing short of awe inspiring. It was both humbling and a privilege to get some insight into the way he creates. I now know what it takes to get to that next level in my own career and I am determined to work at it to achieve that goal.

David Wiesner presenting in one of his workshops.

An illustration from Art & Max by David Wiesner.