What do illustrators most need to make their portfolios stand out in today's children's publishing market?

May 24 Guest Group Critique with Nicole Tugeau!

In an exciting but highly competitive 2016 children's publishing market illustrators need to consider taking one more step to make their portfolios compelling for art directors and editors, suggests literary agent Nicole Tugeau of Tugeau2 Inc.4-14-2016 9-42-14 AM - Copy

"We've seen this market only get more and more saturated," she says in the above video.

"Ten years ago – even five years ago – you used to be able, as an individual unrepresented artist to go into New York City, submit your portfolio to a design team or an art director in the morning and pick it up three hours later with comments or post-it notes on it or a 'thanks, but no thanks' card.

"But you knew you would have eyes on that portfolio.

"What I've found in the past few years is...portfolios alone, sometimes, are not enough," she says. "Even the best portfolio, unless you are dangling a little bit more or sweetening the pot a little bit more, may not be enough..."

Watch our visit with her (above) to find out what she feels to be the needed – but often missing – ingredient in artists' portfolios and mailings.

May 2 – Deadline for your sketch!

The 'missing piece' will be the focus of next month's Guest Group Critique, when Nicole reviews 15 final, full color illustrations that she's assigned from the May sketch submissions.

4-15-2016 12-53-31 PMYou can watch her give the sketch assignment in the above video. We'll send you the link to May's folder to upload your sketch to and instructions on how to easily do that when you subscribe.

After the May 2 sketch submission deadline, we'll announce Nicole's pick of 15 sketches she'd like to see brought to final art stage.

And we'll join her live on May 24 when she critiques the results. She'll also be available to answer your questions about the children's publishing art market and how to maximize your opportunities there.

Monthly group critiques are 'perfect practice'

They tell you...

  • What isn't working

  • When to push harder

  • When to just stop

And help you to...

  • Get a fresh perspective

    Our guest critiquers – illustrators, author-illustrators, children’s literary agents, art directors, maybe an editor or two  – examine your final in a spirit of teaching and mentoring.

  • Think more like a pro

    Watch up close and personal how full-time creatives evaluate and troubleshoot their own and others’ pieces.

  • Prepare for that thing

    That upcoming kidlit (or illustrators’) conference, important promotional mailing, post or sit-down with a client.

  • Sharpen your discernment powers

    Remind you of those bedrock principles of draftsmanship, design and communication. (Funny how they keep bringing you back to those.)

  • Meet your tribe

    Your colleagues and the expert practioners. Who share their What I Wish I Knew Then stories and become your contacts in ‘the biz.’ (It’s called networking.)

  • Get better at getting better

    Practice with critiques helps you understand the hierarchy of feedback and how to navigate it wisely – knowing what’s valid for you now, vs. what to set aside for later.

Participate in new live critique sessions with KidLit professionals every month!

Group critiques – in the classroom or around a cafe table with friends – have been training artists for centuries.

Be part of this conversation, starting today!

SubscribeFor monthly critiques, including the May 24 session with Nicole Tugeau

Only $8.95 monthly.

Improvement comes from consistent focus

Sometimes it will be your work being discussed. More often, someone else's.

Either way, you'll benefit by being there. You'll take away the insights to help you later — when it's just you behind the table making all those decisions (big and small) to finish a great illustration.

It's practicing the proverbial golf swing in your mind. Only you just watch and listen.

You don't have to go it alone...

With a subscription you can participate in all of our monthly live critique programs and immediately access replays of the critiques we enjoyed last year by these top professionals:

Click on the photos to see their websites!

Mira Reisberg

Mira Reisberg

Karien Naude

Karien Naude

Karien Naude

Chris Schechner

Loraine Joyner

Loraine Joyner

Author-illustrator Jeff Crosby

Jeff Crosby

Marsha Riti

Marsha Riti

Christy Stallop

Christy Stallop

ustyme books art manager Nick Balian with the cover of his

Nick Balian

C.S. Jennings

C.S. Jennings

Annette Simon

Annette Simon

Mark Mitchell

Mark Mitchell, moderator

Denise Fleming

Denise Fleming

Wendy Martin

Wendy Martin

Mary Sullivan

Mary Sullivan

Jodell Sadler and KidLit College

Jodell Sadler

It's a bit like art school...

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Try out the subscription and see what you think of the next Marks and Splashes Guest Group Critique session. If you find it not hugely helpful or just not your cup of tea, write me (c/o the How To Be A Children’s Book Illustrator blog) and I’ll refund you same day, no questions asked, no worries and we’re still friends. Your replays of all of last year’s Guest Critiques are on us, until then.

Also, remember that you can easily cancel your subscription anytime through PayPal (or write me, c/o the blog and I’ll help with that — Mark M.)