Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Interview with new SCBWI Illustration Mentee, Corinna Luyken - by Jen Betton

Corinna Luyken was the recipient of the SCBWI Mentorship Award at the 2013 Summer Conference. Kidlit Artists would like to officially welcome Corinna to the blog, and ask her a few questions about the Mentorship experience and about what she is up to these days.

Kidlit Artists: Did the feedback you receive during the mentorship critiques either change or confirm the direction of your illustration? Are there any specific examples you can share?

Corinna: The feedback I received during the mentorship critique was beyond helpful.  Mostly, it matched up with my own feelings about the strengths and weaknesses of my portfolio.  Though the mentor's disagreed on which specific pieces were their favorites (which gave me a nice sense of freedom to follow my own vision) they agreed on the overall strengths (line work, color palate, composition) and weaknesses (too much of one emotional quality, too many solitary figures (yes, my daughter is a quiet introspective girl who often plays by herself!)  lazy hands, arms that are too long for a toddler) of my portfolio as a whole.  I came away with a very strong sense of what I need to do next: show characters interacting more, show a larger range of emotions, create an entire sentence instead of solitary words, and keep working on my life-drawing skills!  

Kidlit Artists: Getting such specific and direct feedback on your work, did you find the experience enlightening? Affirming? Confusing? Conflicting? Why?

Corinna: I found the experience of getting such specific and direct feedback on my work from five different professionals in the field to be enlightening, inspiring, and also a tremendous relief.  After having worked alone for so long (I've been plugging away at this for 10+ years) it was amazing to get feedback from folks that have made such a tremendous and varied contribution to children's books.  

Kidlit Artists: What kind of projects are you working on now?

Corinna: I am currently working on the dummy for a new book idea, about a young girl's first experience digging for razor clams, at night, with her family.  I am hoping to have the dummy and a handful of finished pieces ready by February for the SCBWI winter conference in NYC. 

Kidlit Artists: Is there one really helpful piece of advice that you've gotten since pursuing illustration? Any one piece of horrible advice?

Corinna: I think the most helpful advice I've heard recently was at an SCBWI conference and is a quote by Chuck Close:

“The advice I like to give young artists, or really anybody who'll listen to me, is not to wait around for inspiration. Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work. If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightning to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work.  All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself. Things occur to you. If you're sitting around trying to dream up a great art idea, you can sit there a long time before anything happens. But if you just get to work, something will occur to you and something else will occur to you and something else that you reject will push you in another direction. Inspiration is absolutely unnecessary and somehow deceptive. You feel like you need this great idea before you can get down to work, and I find that's almost never the case.”  -Chuck Close

Kidlit Artists: Last, please tell us where we can find you online.

Corinna: You can see more of my work at:

Kidlit Artists: Thank you Corinna!

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