Wednesday, May 24, 2017

What is Book Expo America? by Patricia Keeler

Yay! My picture book, LIZZIE AND LOU SEAL, Sky Pony Press, has just been published. Yep! I'm going to show at Book Expo America to promote it.

Book Expo America, BEA, is the largest annual book trade fair held in the United States. This year, it takes place at the Jacob Javits Convention Center May 31st through June 3rd. Jacob Javits Center is so big it goes from 34th street to 40th street along 11th Avenue in Manhattan.  

Anyone can go to BEA. Last year, in Chicago, about 10,000 librarians, bookstore people, book bloggers, teachers, museum people and people who just love books paid $100.00 or more to attend for three days. People came from every state in the US, plus nearly 70 countries.  

There are large displays by the big publishing houses like HarperCollins and Wiley. The booths are run by the editors and salepeople. It's a monster big show!

HarperCollins Publishers has an entire aisle.
But I find it a most confusing show from the get-go. BEA's website is hard to navigate. It's slow to load, hard to read, and in black and white. The show is so big, I can never find the booth I'm looking for, and the concrete floors are hard to walk on all day. You can't buy any books, although on the afternoon of the last day publishing houses may give away their books so they don't have to pay to ship them back. It can be frowned upon to show editors artwork or a book dummy, as the houses are there to sell books, not buy them.

The worst section at BEA is near the back wall, where a row of lonely home-made authors pay over $1,000 to sit behind a card table with their slight pile of books. I've been to BEA a couple of times and avoided this row of the hoi polloi.  
A tiny section of Book Expo America floor
But this year I'm Hoi Polloi Booth AM34

Actually, I'm 'Spot' AM34, because it's 4 feet x 4 feet. Do you realize how small that is?

Why would I do this? Let's go back to the top of this blog where I say 10,000 book buyers! I couldn't go to ten thousand libraries and bookstores in my lifetime if I went every day! And they are all going to be right there, for three days, walking around looking for books for their libraries and bookstores.

I know, I know. They will be looking for major publishing house booths, not mine. So I'm going to set up my easel and sketch librarians and book sellers as children's book characters.

Here's a card I made.
I have earring and necklace giveaways. Also, BEA has something I think that is new, and it's really helpful. Guests sign up for your booth on your own BEA site before the show. So far I've had over 50 people signed up, including folks from New York Public Library and Barnes and Noble. One man emailed and said he was looking to buy 5,000 books -- I think he got me mixed up with the real Sky Pony Press booth -- but he's really looking forward to meeting me!

So I'm excited to get the opportunity to present at the same show as the major houses! I could make amazing contacts! I could do amazing sales! 

Or this could be the worst idea I've ever had.

Yikes! I can't step off the mat!

  Facebook:  PatriciaKeelerBooks
Twitter: @patriciakeeler
Instagram: @patriciakeeler

represented by Liza Royce Agency

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Art Shows, by Mike Ciccotello

I've been showing my art for over 15 years, everything from basements to corporate galleries. Take whatever chance you get to show your work, you'll grow from it, trust me. To me, showing my work has always been a social event. I love being at the opening, talking to people, sharing an experience. It's an important part of the process for me. I'd like to share a quick look at some of the shows along my journey, but I don't want to talk about the art. I'd like to focus on the events.

Let's start with 2003, my first show after art school. A group of artists put together a show in my backyard. We called it Art in the Garden. It was really a bunch of young local artists showing their work to each other. I think we had wine too. We put up easels in the backyard and around the house. It was a blast, and I learned that my work all over the place, but I didn't care. I enjoyed the social aspect of the show and sharing my work with friends. I was hooked.

Original invite to Art in the Garden

Next is Streets2k5, with Albus Cavus, and artist collective I worked with for many years, starting this show. It took place in New Brunswick, NJ. The show was at eight different venues, with over 100 international artists (most mailed in their work) It included outdoor painting, musical performance, and a radio interview. This was a HUGE event that created incredible memories, lasting friendships, and fuel to continue pursuing my art. I'm still in touch with many of the artists I met from this show.

Streets 2k5, Showing the Harvest Moon, Feaster Park, TheCORE, New Brunswick NJ

Right around the same time I felt I could hold a solo show. I had three successful solo shows over three years, at The Harvest Moon, New Brunswick, NJ. I started to look at the solo show as more of an experience I was creating for the viewer. It wasn't just about the art on the walls. It was also the announcements, the promotions, and the environment.

Commuter, Harvest Moon Brewery, New Brunswick, NJ

In 2011, Hinterland, was a group show at Aristeia Metro, in the NY Design Center. Four artists of varying style, brought together by a super cool interior design company, to show work and have a party for their clients. This group can throw a fun party. They had an amazing DJ, passed hors d'oeuvres, bartenders, dessert trays. I learned that passed hors d'oeuvres REALLY makes a difference. An upscale event can change perception for your audience. It's not necessary, but it's something nice to offer your guests.

Hinterland, Aristeia Metro, NY Design Center, NY

Daydreams, Solo show at Salon Concrete, Red Bank, NJ, in the fall of 2014. Our twin boys were born in February, 2015, so I knew I wanted to take a break. I also knew that after that show I would be switching gears to get into the world of children's literature. This was a CRAZY show. The salon based a collection of style, cut, and color, on my work. Click here to see styles. We had a live photo shoot in the front space of the Salon. You could see the photo shoot from the street through a nice big window. Inside you were greeted by a wall my original skateboard designs, and a whole bunch of people. Once you walked into the space, we had two tables of hot and cold food, passed hors d'oeuvres, and an amazing DJ. My art filled the walls, both framed work and line art paintings directly on the walls. It was jam packed with people. What a night!

Daydreams, Salon Concrete, Red Bank, NJ

Why am I telling you all of this? I'm starting to understand that creating picture books, for the most part, is a quiet, solitary journey. It's easy to get caught up in that, but what happens when you have a book launch, or need to promote your book? There may be long breaks between those books. How can you maintain a following? Hold events with your art. Socialize. Join group shows, promote your work, gain a following. Put yourself out there. You work so hard on this process, you should share the work that you create. Do it for yourself. Trust me, if you've never shown your work, you don't need a corporate art gallery or fancy design center. You can show at a library or restaurant. Just try it. Invite some friends and have a good time. See what happens.

After a short hiatus, (our twin boys are now two yrs old) I am getting back to showing my work... and I have two coming up.

The Wondrous World of Children’s Book Illustrators

The Interchurch Center
475 Riverside Drive, Suite #240
New York, New York 10115

Opening reception, June 22, 5:30 - 7:30 pm

The Illustration of Mike Ciccotello
Main Gallery
Johnson & Johnson, Corporate Headquarters 
New Brunswick, NJ 
August 28 - October 6th. 
Viewing is by appointment only (it's easy to do)
Contact - Stacey Hecht, Exhibitions Coordinator 
Corporate Art Program, Johnson & Johnson


Represented by Rachel Orr
For more info contact 

Twitter: @ciccotello 
Instagram: @ciccotello 

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Trophies by Jason Kirschner

I know this isn’t kidlit related at the start but stick with it.  I’ll bring it back around. I promise.

So, a few months ago I was nominated for an Emmy. 

Well... a Daytime Emmy.  Same trophy -- I swear.  Best Art Direction.  It was my first nomination and I was really excited.  I got out my tux.  I found the moth holes.  Bought another tux (and some moth repellent.)  I got on a plane and flew out to California for the awards.  It was really exciting.  Me and my show friends got all dressed up and took pics. Pat Sajak was there!  There was a buffet and everything. We took our seats for the awards and about 4 minutes into the show they announced my category.  My heart was racing and my hands grew sweaty. And the nominees for Best Art Direction are…blah blah blah.  And then…

I lost. No trophy.

Ugh.  Sad.  It’s awful to lose. And it’s especially awful to lose on the third category of the evening.  It was a long show.  It threw me into a funk (No relation to Josh) for a few weeks.  A bunch of people correctly reminded me that it’s an honor to be nominated — which it is and I am honored.  I also took a look back at the work I did this past year and I’m really proud of what me and my small department were able to do under time and budget constraints.  The work was strong.

I’m feeling happier again but there’s something about writing these blogs that makes me contemplative.  So here's what I've come up with.  I’m sure I’ve written something to this effect before, but it’s really important to take a step back and look at what you've accomplished— especially in a creative field like television …or writing/illustrating for kids.  (I did it! I brought it back to kidlit.  I told you I would.  Ugh. I can’t believe you doubted me.) 

I think sometimes we’re so busy with our heads down, doing the work and singularly focused on the goal at hand, that we don’t stop to look around to see what we’ve accomplished.  I didn’t win the award, but the nomination was amazing.  And even more importantly, the work was strong.  I’m sure any of you could relate.  When we are putting in the effort and working daily on a project, a sketch, a manuscript, a dummy; it can be hard to see the growth and achievement.  I promise you it’s there.  So take a few minutes and pat yourselves on the back for the growth you’ve had as an artist in the past few days/months/year.  Congratulate yourself on your accomplishments big and small.  And make yourself a trophy out of cheese.  You deserve it.  That’s what I did at the Emmys and no one looked at me funny at all.  I promise.

By day, Jason is an EMMY NOMINATED set designer for television, with credits that include Harry, The Meredith Vieira Show, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, and The Late Show with David Letterman. By night, Jason is an author and illustrator of children's books. You can find his debut picture book, Mr. Particular: The World's Choosiest Champion on shelves in bookstores everywhere. See Jason's work, both illustrations and set designs,  at . Follow him on twitter @jason_kirschner. 

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Create everywhere, anywhere, and anytime! - By Barbara DiLorenzo

I've just had a baby. A real baby (book babies are coming out later this year).
Prior to this wonderful addition to my family, I was sluggishly productive in the last months of pregnancy. But I still managed to create final artwork for two picture books–RENATO AND THE LION in the first trimester, and QUINCY in the end of the second trimester. 

But with a newborn that requires a lot of holding throughout the day, I find myself sitting on the opposite side of the room from my drafting table, unable to draw or paint or respond to emails. At first, I told myself to just breathe and get through those first sleep-deprived weeks. Not drawing to me is akin to not going to the gym for normal folks. A few days without exercise doesn't phase me much, but I've seen friends unravel slightly when this happens to them. Similarly, a few days without drawing, and I feel off. At this point with over a month of no new artwork produced, I'm starting to panic.

With lots of time to think, I now realize my difficulty in creating new work is partly due to how I approach art making. Thanks to years without holding a newborn morning, noon and night, I had time to create as I pleased. Hours of uninterrupted work time while listening to NPR or documentaries on Netflix, sipping coffee and playing with different mediums was normal to me. But today, I have a new normal that requires urgency - grabbing every opportunity to make a mark. I have a sketchbook by the table where I sit, but without my hands free, it has sat lonely and unused for weeks because I was waiting for that stretch of time that I used to enjoy. My new goal is to make a mark at every moment the baby falls asleep. This is humbling, as the marks aren't that appealing–especially as my sleep-deprived brain is also affecting my drawing agility. But the point is not to create a masterpiece, but to keep moving forward. Even typing this blog post required sneaking out of bed at 4am to write, all in an effort to keep moving forward. 

So here is the first mark I have made since the baby was born. No time for shading. No time for detail. Not even finished because the baby fussed just 5 minutes into my sketch. This is just a raw sketch of my current state. Now that I look at it more closely, I appreciate the honesty. No flourishes or well-designed composition. Just a tired mom and her newborn. I have a feeling that if I can make more of these, I will start to regain my footing. In the process, I will retrain myself in the skill of drawing everywhere, anywhere and at any time. Though I don't have the luxury of other options, I am happy to go back to basics again–and learn how to draw with urgency and honesty, and not solely to please an audience.
Represented by Rachel Orr of the Prospect Agency.
Co-President of the Children's Book Illustrators Group (CBIG).
Instructor & Outreach Program Coordinator for the Arts Council of Princeton.

Coming soon!RENATO AND THE LIONWritten and illustrated by Barbara DiLorenzo
Published by Viking Children's Books
Release date: June 20, 2017

Written and illustrated by Barbara DiLorenzo
Published by Little Bee Books
Release date: February 8, 2018