Thursday, August 10, 2017

Gratitude, behind the scenes at KidLitArtists, and exciting Instagram news - by Debbie Ridpath Ohi

KidLitArtists is now on Instagram! Thanks so much to Meridth McKean Gimbel for making that happen.

I can't believe it's been over SEVEN YEARS since the blog launched. Whoa. It began when a group of us (John Deninger, Kimberly Gee, Ashley Mims, Andrea Offermann and Eliza Wheeler and me) were chosen for the SCBWI Illustration Mentorship Program in 2010.

The six of us met after our mentor sessions and compared notes, talked about how we could make the most of the opportunity generously given to us by the SCBWI Illustration Board.

I started a private a email list to help us keep in touch and exchange info as well as registering domain. After coordinating with the other Class of 2010 Mentees, I launched our blog and Twitter account. This was what the original name and banner looked like (designed by Eliza Wheeler):

In addition to posting updates about our illustration projects, we also shared info about what we learned during our mentorship sessions as well as other tips resources and industry news of interest to children's book illustrators.

The SCBWI Illustration Board was so impressed by the blog that they asked if we could open it up to other Mentees, past and future. Of course we said YES! Eliza Wheeler came up with the banner above, using part of one of my bunny drawings. The mailing list was replaced by a private Facebook group, and we also started a public FB Page. Eliza organized the blog posting schedule, and each new class of Mentees picked a point person for group-wide orientation and communication.

Although I don't have as much time to be as involved behind-the-scenes at KidLitArtists as I used to, I still commit to posting to the blog a few times a year, no matter how crazy things get because I remain incredibly grateful to the SCBWI for helping to jumpstart my career back in 2010, and I want to give back in what way I can.

Meanwhile, I am also thankful to those SCBWI Illustration Mentees who have volunteered to keep things going behind-the-scenes despite their own busy schedules!

Nowadays, Jen Betton (Mentee Class of 2012) organizes the blog posting schedule (THANK YOU, JEN). To the left: A photo of Jen with her award certificate when she won the SCBWI New England Conference Portfolio Showcase in 2014.

Jen's debut solo picture book, HEDGEHOG NEEDS A HUG, launches from Penguin Putnam in Summer 2018....congrats, Jen! You can read her news in this blog post.

Jen's illustrations will also be appearing in TWILIGHT CHANT written by Holly Thompson, launching from Clarion in 2018. You can find out more about Jen and her work at Jen is represented by Jen Rofé at the Andrea Brown Literary Agency.

Our feed on Twitter, @KidLitArtists, is maintained by Ana Aranda (Mentee Class of 2014), Meridth McKean Gimbel (Mentee Class of 2015) and me. I love this photo of Ana Aranda:

Ana's illustrations can be found in picture books published in France and Italy, and her debut picture book in the U.S., THE CHUPACABRA ATE THE CANDELABRA (written by Marc Tyler Nobleman) was published by Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin earlier this year. Get a peek at her book  here in this fun Let's Read Stories reading:

You can find out more about Ana and her work at

Meridth McKean Gimbel, who helps posts to our Twitter account, also recently launched our Instagram account (THANK YOU, MERIDTH!!!). Here's Meridth when she won a SCBWI-LA Illustration Mentorship award in 2015:

Meridth also shares all kinds of great info and insights on her own blog, like her "Putting Together A Dummy The Smart Way" post. You can find out more about Meridth and her work at  Meridth is represented by Linda Pratt of Wernick Pratt.

Others helping behind-the-scenes, including a gradual revamp of our blog and some of our social media include K-Fai Steele and Susie Ghahremani.

You can find out more about K-Fai and her work at

Susie has several books out already, including her debut solo picture book, STACK THE CATS (Abrams Appleseed).

K-Fai, Susie and some of other Mentees are gradually revamping the KidLitArtists website and social media, so do keep an eye on this blog, Twitter, Facebook Page and Instagram!


Debbie Ridpath Ohi is the author and illustrator of Where Are My Books? She has four new books coming out in 2017: Sea Monkey & Bob (Simon & Schuster),  Mitzi Tulane in The Secret Ingredient (Random House) Ruby Rose, Big Bravos(HarperCollins), and her second solo picture book Sam & Eva(Simon & Schuster). You can find Debbie on Twitter: @inkyelbows and Instagram at @inkygirl

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