Monday, April 23, 2007

Conference was fun but "Crappy" too

Hey gals,

Just got back from the illustrator's day conference in NYC and had a pretty good day. Recognized some people from last year and yapped my little head away all day. The book review was a bit "crappy" ,sorry for the language but I don't know any other way to describe it. From the moment I set eyes on the person, no names mentioned of course, that was going to review my book dummy I knew it was not going to be good. She was really angry looking? Had definitely woken up on the wrong side of the bed and became very defensive when I asked her what her background was. I actually thought that was a legitimate question since I wanted to know what knowledge she was basing her critique on. All the other conferences I've been to always have a little bio on all of the speakers, editors, etc.. so you know who you're dealing with. And I asked her right up front too not after she started throwing the daggers so it wasn't a defnsive move on my part I was just trying to break the ice a bit or iceburg I should say. Or I guess she started throwing the daggers because I asked her? Who knows? I have a very tough skin so I made the best of it. Oh the funniest part of the whole thing was that in the middle of everything she asked why I didn't show Little Red Riding Hood being swallowed up by the wolf? I was like Huh??? I answered, "Wouldn't that be a bit much for the little ones who read these stories? Don't you think they would get scared? She answered "You might have a point there". God give me strength!
All in all though the day certainly wasn't wasted since I adore NYC and had the chance to talk to one of the artists' agents that was a speaker. I gave her my samples, which she loved, and said she would look at my site and email me if she was interested. Who knows , something might come of it. Well that's enough venting for now and I'm in need of lots of sleep so I'm off to bed. The piece I posted here is one of the last scenes from the book dummy. Let me know your thoughts and my apologies if I sounded whiny I just had to vent.


  1. Okay, All I heard was negative stuff, didn't she say anything positive? If all she did was rag on you, that was very unprofessional. We all know that critique's (even paid ones) should also contain encouragment. Sounds to me like PB's were not her genre!

    I am dealing with someone like that in my SCBWI group right now. I'm not sure why, but she constantly attacks my writing efforts, while everyone else's comments are constructive. It's hard to take and even harder to understand why.
    I decided that I was waisting too much energy trying to figure it out and I have since tuned her out. She's only one person of six, I can get by just fine without her opinion. Now I just nod to her, smile and move on to the next person.

    You know they say misery loves company. Maybe your critiquer is blocked in her own work and taking it out on others. Tough criticism can damage one's creative flow and I'm sure she's well aware of it. It's a shame she was unleashed on you.

    We all know how talented you are, just put it behind you!

    Carry on you awesome illustrator you!

  2. Hi Giselle,
    Sorry to hear about your critique. We had an illustrator who was giving critiques a few years ago at the Wisconsin retreat. She was aweful! She was so negative about everyone's work. I was really a newby then. I thought "Oh my God" I am way over my head! It wasn't even like," If I was you, I would try doing this or that because what you are doing isn't going to work for you." It was,"Ya, I don't like your style." That's why we need tough skin!

    Anyway, You know what you can do. So do we.
    The wolfs legs look a little scewed to me. I think it's the way the front leg is bent and the leg behind in comes. I like how the tail goes behind him.I also like how the woodsmen, Granny and Red are together. It's a good composition. Keep going. Your illos are great and I know you will definitely get noticed!

  3. Oh dear, Giselle, so sorry to hear about your unfortunate experience! But I'm also glad to hear that you're able to chalk it up to a bad experience and not an accurate reflection of your artwork which is wonderful! When I had my critique at the same conference two years ago I had quite a different experience as I had a wonderful agent review my work, but what you said reminded me of my experience as well - I knew RIGHT AWAY what kind of person I was dealing with! It's funny how you truly can tell these things even before any words are spoken. I had the strangest feeling as I was approaching her, hadn't even gotten to her yet, as we made eye contact and gave each other a big smile - I knew right then and there that this was going to be a positive experience. I only bring that up because it's so weird how just the energy between two people is felt right off the bat, before any real communication is even made. When I saw the woman who was going to review me I felt like I already knew her and we were friends, and unfortunately when you saw the woman who was going to review you, she was plunging daggers into you! And right then and there nothing is going to change, you know what I mean?! So again, not to dwell but glad to hear you have tough skin! Your work is beautiful, don't doubt that, and someday that mean lady will eat her nasty words! :)

    Now, as far as this illo I do agree with Brenda in that the wolf's legs are a bit off. I'm not exactly sure how I'd fix it, I'd just type in "running wolf" in google and see what happens! When in doubt, google images will help! :) And I'd also do something to make the house either look larger or further in the distance. The way the pathway is right now that leads from the door to the woodsman implies that the house is pretty close even though it's tiny and they wouldn't fit inside. If you use more of an extreme perspective here and have the pathway get much smaller very quickly going towards the door, the house will look further away and larger in general. The rest looks great (I'm assuming the text will go below here, yes?). I like how you have just enough detail on the people but not too much - a nice balance! And I like how big and burly the woodsman is...he can save me anyday! :)

    Great work, Giselle! You're on your way! -Gina

  4. Hi Giselle,
    I went to illustrator's da once and I swear the only good thing that came out of it was meeting you. They moved my critique at the last minute so I got a 10 minutes "speed critique". The whole event was so unorganized and the people they dig up to review portfolios is scary. This is not a SCBWI event so i think we can't expect the same level of quality control.

    Anyway, I actually think it would be funny to show the wolf licking his lips at hte end with a distended belly. You obviously don't have to show the actual mauling.

    So I have done about 20 readings of my book to kids and have learned a really good lesson. Kids love grosse things. I ask at the end of the reading which character is their favorite and EVERY single time the Feejee mermaid wins it because it is grosse and scary. One girl screamed at the end of the reading, "Show me more grosse ones!" So I actually agree with the eating thing. I think it would give a little naughtiness to the book too.

    BTW, these sketches are great and I can't think of anything to improove upon here.