SCBWI British Isles - Portfolio Intensive

by Liz Anelli

SCBWI British Isles - Portfolio Intensive - Friday 10th June - 13:00 – 17:00 at the House of Illustration A chance to network with agents and professionals in the children’s book industry, help target the right publisher for your work & present your portfolio and gain valuable insight and advice as to how to develop it to the make the industry sit up and take note?

A perfect English summer’s afternoon saw me dusting off my jetlag and heading for the fancy new canal-side arts complex at Granary Square, London new home to Central St Martins School of Art and The House of Illustration - to take part in SCBWI British Isles Portfolio Intensive Event

Ness Wood, Art Director, David Fickling Books, Holly Tonks, Commissioning Editor, Tate, Sharon King-Chai, Art Director for Two Hoots imprint of Macmillan Children's Publishing ( and Chrissie Boehm, Artful Doodlers Illustration and Design Agency spent a full four hours sharing their expert advice with a room of about 20 eager illustrators.

Sharon King-Chai critiquing a portfolio

Sharon King-Chai critiquing a portfolio

The format of small group critiques really worked for me as you could hear feedback and advice on other people’s portfolios as well as your own – rather like being a fly on the wall at a publisher’s office. There wasn’t enough time to be seen by all 4 experts but (having submitted your choice of 3 in preference order beforehand) you got a fair go. Format didn’t seem to matter too much, (printed portfolios, laptop screen shots or a bundle of sketchbook studies), it was age appropriate characters and subject content that caught the eye along with individualistic style. Some general advice was to ensure your main characters held the focus of the reader, experiment with different ways of drawing faces and to keep tonal contrasts clear. Also -  have a web presence on sites such as, enter competitions and develop little stories and characters through greetings card designs. Most enlightening for me was to hear Holly Tonks explaining the refreshing angle Tate Publishing have of working directly with artists to develop picture and activity books and merchandising ideas. Being an art gallery, their focus is on visual narratives and experimentation, with text taking second place.

The publishers each have submission policies on their websites. DFB also publish a weekly story comic for children called The Phoenix  and regularly hold ‘Master of the Ink-pot’ competitions for open submissions.

Melany Pietersen’s portfolio

Melany Pietersen’s portfolio

Chatting with the other delegates, several had studied at the renowned Anglia Ruskin Children’s Book Illustration MA and many were from overseas. The afternoon was smoothly facilitated by SCBWI reps Trish Philips and Patrick Miller who ensured we were all happy and kept topped up with tea and biscuits.

Free entry to the beautiful exhibitions on show upstairs and the delights of an illustration-purposed gallery shop rounded off my day with just enough time to trundle my suitcase down to Kings Cross station, past Platform 9 ¾ to jump on the Cambridge train to go see my family


SketchLook from Luna Park, Sydney

SketchLook is an ongoing feature of the SCBWI Blog. It is a glimpse into the working process of artists, how we experiment, think through our ideas, stretch our imagination and observe the world. This is a glimpse at current work in progress, free doodles, rough drawings, and sketches from life. CLICK HERE to participate in SketchLook.


This month we take a look at the sketchbooks of some our members who sketched and scribbled their way around Luna Park, Sydney. 

Rob Feld

"And wasn't that just the BEST DAY yesterday. I very much enjoyed the delightful company , the views, the stories, the ambience and the je ne sais quoit!" — Rob Feld

Rob showed us his marker sketches with the fluid line work he achieves with a fabric marker! His sketches were inspired by the history of Luna Park and the creative prompts supplied by our guide Katrina McKelvey.

Liz Anelli

Satoru Aoe

Gwynne Jones

A call-out for the next selection will be sent out in good time but members of SCBWI Australia East & New Zealand are invited to submit images at any time. Work should be scans or snapshots of sketchbook pages featuring sketches, drawings from life or working drawings. Up to five images, Jpeg format, 72 dpi, 750px width maximum. Kindly avoid overlaying text on images and other digital manipulation. CLICK HERE to submit images for SketchLook.

HEARTQUAKE LAUNCH - the online compendium

It’s with a considerable beating of my own heart, that we announce HEARTQUAKE to the world.

It’s an online compendium that was begun out of the ruins of the awful earthquake that beset Nepal in April 25th, 2015 leaving behind heartache for so many.  But the human spirit is strong. In coming to terms with the terrifying circumstances, Bec Ordish the founder of the Mitrataa Foundation, as well as her rescue work she and her students undertook, asked me to help with some writing, particularly poetry writing. This was planned to help traumatized young people express their experiences and feelings. What is amazing is that so many expressed hope for the future in their personal accounts, their reflections, their artwork, their poetry – a testament to the spirit of these young Nepalis.  A year on HEARTQUAKE was celebrated in Kathmandu, and two years on with this online offering and the desire to make links to the world.

Both the Nepali Ambassador in Canberra, Rudra K Nepal, and the Australian Ambassador Glenn White in Kathmandu, wrote of their pride in these same young people. Their letters are included in the Foreword of HEARTQUAKE. Some Newcastle students responded with their own poems about family members who experienced an earthquake there.

Bec and I have great pride in presenting HEARTQUAKE and hope for response to the heartfelt work these students created.

Libby Hathorn