The Beginning: Part I

As those who follow my twitter already know, I am terrifically excited to share that I have officially scheduled a video chat portfolio review with Guiseppe Castellano, an art director and illustrator with years of experience!

I began typing this post to talk about how I found the opportunity and more about the review in general, but in doing so I found myself starting at the beginning of how I got to where I am at now. It seemed difficult to separate the two topics, but it was too much for one post. So, welcome to The Beginning: Part I!


Almost a year ago, when I first made the decision to start acting on my desire to illustrate professionally, I decided to write down a plan. Though it was not public, it was something concrete I could review to hold myself accountable. It currently reads as follows:

END GOAL: finished portfolio submitted to publishers/companies/agents by May 2018

What I’ll need:

  • Website of work
  • Physical portfolio
  • PDF portfolio
  • Artist card (optional)

10-15 solid illustrations

  • 3 character designs
  • 6 color full page designs
  • 3 b&w full page designs
  • 1 set of sequential drawings (2-3)

I had a plan in place, but I still wanted to be better educated in the ways of the industry before diving in. Education for this busy professional came in the form of podcasts. There are parts of my day job that allow me to listen to music while working, so listening to podcasts instead allowed me to learn more while still getting things done!

My first find was Chris Oatley’s Artcast. It had great reviews, so I gave it a shot. I was hooked right away! I would get so excited about what I was hearing that I would spend the better part of my lunch break excitedly jabbering to my husband about “this guy in my podcast who” <insert awesome thing here>. This podcast was so motivating to me. Listening to artist after artist tell their story made me realize that these people (for the most part) were not just blessed by God with talent that would drop you to your knees. They set a goal for themselves and worked hard. They tried again and again, even after being denied. I began to believe that although the industry is fiercely competitive, with the right combination of skill, persistence, and people skills, you can make a career out of doing what you love!

Through the Artcast, I discovered Stories Unbound, a children’s literature-specific podcast hosted by Shawna JC Tenney. Since illustrating children’s books plays a huge part of where I see myself in the future, I began to spend my time listening to Shawna and her varying co-hosts interview artists, authors, and editors. I would take note of the names I was hearing so I could look them up later, trying to learn who’s-who in the #kidlit world and expose myself to established, successful artists. I have gone through all of the episodes that exist, but will probably go back through them over time. I feel like listening to her podcasts makes me all the more excited, and even somewhat prepared, for the road ahead of me.

Pregnancy and several months of adjusting to life with two kids meant I pushed my efforts to the back burner for a while last year. Even so, I think I may be able to achieve my goal by the end of May this year! That being said, my goal may change in about a month. My upcoming portfolio review has the possibility (and probability) of changing what I think is necessary for me to have in my portfolio as I begin. More on that in The Beginning: Part II!

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