Conference Survival Tips


I know a bunch of you are off to the SCBWI conference in NY today so I thought I'd share some conference tips I find helpful!

I have a love/hate relationship with conferences.

I love meeting new people and learning new things-- and soaking in all that good energy from being around a crowd of like minded individuals feels so good. It can be a heady experience.

However, I do not like feeling stressed out by the constant go-go atmosphere and barrage of information. Add a few critique sessions on top of that and it can get overwhelming fast--especially for the wee introvert who is used to happily working alone at her desk.

So besides the basics-- bringing your business cards, looking good, and honing your elevator pitch--here are my top 6 conference survival tips:

  1. Stay hydrated and remember to eat!  It seems pretty standard to have a speaker during meal times and it's just so easy to get so absorbed that you forget about your lunch. Don't make this mistake! Eat, eat. I would even stash a few snacks in your bag, just in case you need them later. And yes, a water bottle can be a pain to carry around, but you'll feel so much better if you drink water throughout the day. I find hotel air to be dry, and don't forget your brain needs to be hydrated to work at tip-top shape. Extra bonus: bathroom lines are among the best places to meet people, right up there with cocktail parties. I promise.
  2. Wear Layers.  Inevitably you will be too cold or too hot in one room or another. I find a big scarf and/or light sweater is helpful.
  3. Remember to sleep. So this is a controversial one. Lots of people advocate staying up to all hours of the night networking (aka partying) because that is what you're there to do. But if you're like me, that's really not the best move. Especially if you're there for the whole three days-- you're absorbing a ton of information, and I'm so much more on top of my game after a good night's sleep. Obviously, I would make an exception for something really fabulous, but in general don't underestimate the power of shut-eye. 
  4. Take Breaks. Last year at a conference, I mentioned feeling a bit strung out and someone replied that they always skip one workshop for some alone-time. I'm sure some of you are cringing at the thought, but I decided it was genius. You don't have to actually skip a whole workshop, but scheduling in breaks for yourself is a smart move.
  5. Take advantage of "unofficial" networking events.  As someone who has a hard time walking into a room of hundreds of people to go "network," I've realized I can seek out similar opportunities, but with smaller groups. Go to that dinner you got invited to. Is someone in your chapter having a party? Don't skip it. Often these unofficial gatherings are just as, if not more, rewarding than the conference-planned ones. 
  6. Plan to meet up with people you know from online.  A week or so before you go, reach out to people on twitter or Facebook and let them know you're attending. I hate that feeling when you walk into the hotel and there are hundreds of people and you don't know anyone. It can feel daunting. But this way, especially if you're going alone, you'll recognize a few faces.  And it's always great to meet an online friend in person.

So that's my list. Did I miss anything? Got any other tips to share?

Have fun everybody!

Tomie dePaola Award

Tomie dePaolo Award Scbwi yearling Here's my submission for SCBWI's Tomie dePaola Award. I chose a scene from The Yearling.

I'm mostly happy with it. The plants and patterns on the trees were fun to do and I think successful. Jody, the son, I'm not thrilled with. I worry that maybe he looks a bit too cartoony?  I do like how the silhouetted framing worked out though.

Its one of those pieces I could have fiddled with forever. Fortunately, I was under the gun-- the deadline is today-- so I had to commit to something. Which  is good thing in my book.

Anyways, the main thing is that hypothetically the wonderful Tomie dePaola will actually look at something I drew! Which I get shivers thinking about. Strega Nona!

You can check out some of the other entries here .

Portraits in LMNOP Gift Guide!

My portraits are featured in LMNOP's gift guide! And what fine company they are in:  

2012_Gift-Guide_Mum LMNOP

Gosh, they have never looked better-- RIGHT? Man. Plus, don't you want everything on that list? Spot on. Check out their website for more gift guides rolling out over the next two weeks.

Thank you, thank you Jenny and the LMNOP crew!

You can order your own portrait here. But hop to it: The deadline for regular Christmas shipping is December 5th--next week!


Advent Calendar Round Up

Advent starts next week-- do you have your calendar yet? Advent Calendars

Printable Advent Calendar

The Marion House Book advent calendar

Wooden Creations by Chris

I had never seen a puzzle Advent Calendar before-- had you? "...Starting on December 1st you add one piece of the puzzle daily, continuing until you add the final piece on the morning of December 25."

JHill Design modern Advent Calendar

Le Petit Pot Advent Calendar

Semi-DIY Advent Calendar Nina Max Daly

Matchbox Advent Calendar



And lastly, I am in love with this tiny matchbox one. Everyday, as you remove a drawer and then slide it back in reversed, a picture is slowly revealed! So sweet.

Most of these are semi-diy and/or printable. Click on the image for directions and ordering info!

If none of these catch your fancy, head over to Oh Happy Day which has gorgeous tutorials for making your own!

'Tis The Season For A SALE!

thanksgiving sale custom portraits Head on over to the shop, for 35% (!!) off Custom Portraits! Now through the 26th.  If you wanted to order a portrait in time for the holidays, now is the time to do it!  (Holiday ordering dates and info here.)

Happy early Thanksgiving everybody! (--and Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday--phew!)

(Tip: If you'd like to be the first to hear about sales like this one, sign up for my newsletter and stay up to date with whats happening around here!)

Time to Vote!

  Unless you went early, today is the day to get out and vote. You can check here to find out where to go, and to get information about the various races going on. And if you're looking for something to whet your whistle afterwards, perhaps a cookie or cupcake would do the trick?

Romney Obama Cookies Cupcake portraits

They're from the wonderful Eleni's bakery in New York and are illustrated by me!

Portraits for $100!

 Julia Staples portraits 100 To celebrate her new photography studio, my longtime, talented friend Julia is throwing an exciting event: The "100/100/100 Project": 100 portraits, in 100 days, for 100 dollars! Its a fabulous chance to get a professional portrait taken at a super low price. There are a bunch of framing options, and you can also order holiday cards from her as well.  I illustrated the frames for the photo cards, and I'm really happy with how they came out. Here's one of them:

So if you're in the Philadelphia area, go grab your spot!  (If you're not in the area and would still like to order a photo card, you can do that here and use your own photo.) Julia is also available to shoot on location.


Books + Goodies: Halloween

Welcome to the first "Books & Goodies" post! I've been wanting to do this series for a while now. The concept is simple: A fun book + it's corresponding goodies.  What better time to start than Halloween, and with a book by LeUyen Pham no less? (She's one of my favorites!) Maybe this will inspire some last minute costume ideas? Happy Halloween! Book + Goodies Vampirina Ballerina


Vampirina Ballerina written by Anne Marie Pace, and illustrated by LeUyen Pham.

 Fangs, Leotard, Tutu, Slippers, Bat Hoodie, Mask, Porcelain Flowers, Bow Headband, Collar

Portrait Shop is Open!

Custom Portrait from GaiaI'm happy to officially announce, I'm now offering a new line of custom portraits!  Just in time for the holidays.

Each piece is painstakingly drawn by hand, then printed on thick, archival paper, and finally placed in a gorgeous wooden frame (--There are three to choose from!) I aim to provide you with a timeless keepsake, of the highest quality, that will look wonderful--for years to come-- in any home.

Visit the shop here. Can't wait to hear what you think!

Portraits from Gaia Cornwall

And on another note, be safe everybody on the East Coast. I'm typing from soggy Rhode Island, where the wind just picked up. Wishing you all an uneventful few days.

Business cards!

New Business Cards!

I picked up my business cards from yesterday evening!  They're in East Providence, so it was a short trip over-- nice to save money and time on the shipping.

(Well, I should have saved time. Funny story: I was going to post this right when I got home, but I locked my keys in the car in their parking lot. Oh thank you, thank you AAA. I don't know why I don't have your number in my speed dial. And thank you to the nice people at Moo who let me hang out inside even though their office was closing.  Anyways, this meant I spent the rest of the evening rushing around. Hilarious.)

I think they came out pretty cute. It was a last minute decision to go with Moo, so I didn't really take full advantage of the different images option. But I'm happy with the two I picked.

New Business Cards!

I especially love the back.

New Business Cards!

So thumbs up for Moo-- good quality, easy interface, and great customer service.-- Even if you don't lock your keys in the car, they're still really nice and helpful.

Video Monday: Rear Window Loop

Video Mondays By gathering the appropriate scenes and then placing them in one wide shot, filmmaker Jeff Desom created a video installation of the neighborhood events as they unroll in Hitchcock's film "Rear Window." I love this.

I dissected all of Hitchcock's Rear Window and stiched it back together in After Effects. I stabilized all the shots with camera movement in them. Since everything was filmed from pretty much the same angle I was able to match them into a single panoramic view of the entire backyard without any greater distortions. The order of events stays true to the movie's plot.

The whole thing takes twenty minutes to screen, but below is a time-lapse. Wouldn't you love to see it in person?

[vimeo w=400&h=225]Rear Window Timelapse from Jeff Desom on Vimeo.

Pretty sweet, right?

The Best Nanny Money Can Buy

Did you guys read the article "The Best Nanny Money Can Buy" in the NY Times Sunday Magazine last week? Being a former nanny of a zillion years, plus a huge fan of illustrator Jillian Tamaki, who illustrated the piece, I was intrigued to say the least.

Turns out these nannies were way outta my league:

A nanny can increase her marketability if she can help manage an art collection, draft correspondence, wash and fold 50 linens a day and help set up philanthropic events. Bonus points if she can do it all in Mandarin.

I suppose I could figure out how to do all of those things, but almost definitely not in Mandarin.

Isn't that illustration great? (Remember when I illustrated nannies for Time Out magazine?)

Happy weekend everybody!

PS. Oh yes, this is happening tomorrow. Do you ever participate? I'm usually not up for grand symbolic gestures that ultimately feel a bit empty (--and have large corporate sponsors.) But the thought of everything going dark is just so wonderful...

image credit: Jillian Tamaki for the NY Times