10 Lessons I Learned After Recording 25 Podcast Episodes

In January 2018, my wife suggested that I create a podcast. It sounded like a good idea, but I didn’t know a single thing about podcasts (other than listening to them).

Here are the top 10 lessons I learned after producing, recording, editing, and publishing 25 podcast episodes for The Illustration Department Podcast.

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On SCBWI, Advice for Authors and Illustrators

“You should attend an SCBWI conference.” 

At some point in our journey as authors and illustrators, we hear this piece of advice. But what does it mean? How should we prepare for a conference? How do we engage the faculty? What can we realistically hope to gain? In this post, Arthur Levine, Dan Santat, Martha Brockenbrough, Kendra Levin, Jen Rofé, Jennifer Laughran, Jim Hoover, Pat Cummings, Meg Medina, and Claudia Pearson—all veteran faculty members—and I share our tips on attending a Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators conference.

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Postcards and the 10%

In my years as art director, I threw away 90% of the postcards I receive.

That statement may come across as odd. Professors, agents, editors, and other art directors & illustrators say it’s imperative to send postcards. You may have taken that advice. You may have spent good money on hundreds of cards. And now, a former art director of one of the largest collections of imprints says he threw almost all of them away.

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Forget “Style”

“Finding my style” is one of the most commonly discussed topics among illustrators. Entire semesters, seminars, twitter chats, and blog posts are devoted to “style”.

And yet, of all the words in the lexicon of the art world, “style” is the one I hate the most.

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10 Mistakes Illustrators Make

Every illustrator is different. And yet—regardless of experience, education, or talent—there are common mistakes all illustrators make. Some of them are harmless oversights: while others can damage a reputation. 

Here are my top 10 most common illustrator mistakes.

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Do I Need An Agent? (Or A Blog About the Life of a Submission, in Three Acts)

Is there a five-word sentence in the children’s book industry more capable of sparking a debate than “Do I need an agent”? (Maybe: “Is publishing dead or not?” It’s not dead, but I digress.)

In this post, you and I will go through the steps of a submission, from researching agencies to signing on the dotted line—while having a bit of a heart-to-heart along the way.

I also ask six well-respected agents to share their thoughts by answering three questions.

By the end of this post, you may finally have the answer to: “Do I need an agent?”

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Baseball and Illustration

I’m a Baltimore Orioles fan. I’ll skip the blurry anecdotes and poetic waxing of what the O’s have meant to me. Suffice it to say my devotion runs deep. How deep? I still loved them after what happened in the spring of 1989 (look it up).

As a fan of baseball, I can’t help but notice the parallels and lessons that directly apply to something else I love: illustration. With outfield assists from fellow baseball fans Sarah Bunting, Tad Carpenter, John Hendrix, Kenard Pak, Elias Stein, Matt Tavares, and John Tomac, we discuss the lessons artists can learn from our national pastime. So pull up your socks and chew on some gum—we’re talking baseball and illustration!

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