by Gail Buschman
I recently had two portfolio reviews with two different art directors. They had very good things to say about my book, but there were two definite things that they both wanted to see more of: art and story.
The first one is pretty straight-forward: create more work! Even working like the Tortoise instead of the Hare, I can get a lot of work done as long as I remain slow and steady, avoiding panic attacks wherever possible. The fact that they're interested in seeing more work out of me is a very good sign and I should push my creative limits whenever possible on more complex pieces while continuing to break them up with smaller pieces that are still in my style.
The second one is more difficult. Story. I used to write creatively--when I was in high school. These days I don't consider myself a writer beyond my blog ramblings. I have stories in my head, but they sound incredibly silly on paper. Additionally, I keep trying to flesh out these long, complex, overly complicated ideas before giving up in frustration before I've really developed anything. Yet I felt that fleshing out a full story was the ONLY way to approach projects for my picture book portfolio. Create a STORY.
At the SCBWI Summer Conference I was able to talk more with one of the art directors about the subject of story. He indicated that while it was important to show you can develop characters and scenes and compositions for a full picture book STORY, it was just as important to create story in a single image. Not the grand idea of a story, but smaller moments of interest, emotion, and wonderment; to show that you don't only have technical skills as an artist, but that you have ideas.
I have ideas, I'm sure you have ideas. We wouldn't be on this path if we didn't have ideas. Between this discussion and the many art-related podcasts that I listen to, I have resolved to no longer consider myself an artist and I wasn't ever going for the writer's hat, but I am ready to move forward into a new role: visual storyteller. And that's story, lowercase. If STORY happens along the way, all the better.
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