Monday, September 17, 2018

Interview with Erin Balzer, 2018 SCBWI LA Mentorship Award Winner

This interview series introduces the talented recipients of the SCBWI Mentorship Award at the 2018 Summer Conference. Please welcome Erin Balzer to the KidLitArtists Blog! 

Read on to learn more about her art, what she learned from her SCBWI mentorship, and what she has planned for her next steps as an illustrator.

"Hello, I'm Erin Balzer, an illustrator/woodcutter living in Vancouver, Canada. I grew up in a family of woodworkers, sewists and painters, crafters who greatly influenced my chosen illustration medium, woodcut printing. I love the process of carving my characters into the wood and seeing how their quirky and whimsical identities come to life through the ink in the prints. If I could choose where and how to spend my time it would be carving and doodling endlessly beside some lake, or trailblazing through the woods with my husband and our dog, Freya."

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

"The feedback I received in the mentorship critiques were extremely helpful, and confirmed that I was going in the right direction with my style and voice as an illustrator. A specific example of helpful feedback/critique I received is that I need to work on my illustration of human characters more and find a way to love drawing people so it shows in my work as it does the animal characters in my portfolio."

What kind of projects are you working on now?

"As of right now, I am taking time to re-work a few of the pieces in my portfolio, create more work and sign up for figure drawing classes to stay fresh."

Is there any type of illustration (or other work) that you’re hoping for in the near future?

"I would love the opportunity to illustrate a full book based on one of my characters and written by an author. I am aiming to find opportunity to experience and learn as much as I can this year from the work I receive."

Is there one really helpful piece of advice that you’ve gotten since pursuing illustration? 

"Take your time, don't rush it, the publishing world is slow" "adjust your living needs to accommodate your salary, this isn't a money making business, so make sure you find a way to not be too pressured financially." " 

Any one piece of bad advice?

"You should try and write and illustrate yourself," I think I wasted lots of time attempting to write this past year. In last couple months before SCBWI LA2018, I just decided to illustrate a few finished samples from my story ideas that show my characters and visual narration, this improved my portfolio got me lots of great interest, I wish I didn't sweat as much over a book dummy earlier in the year."

What was one of your favorite quotes or lessons from the SCBWI Summer Conference?

"You get to the universal through the specific"

"Whatever goes into your portfolio, let it be something you are passionate about, don't make assumptions of what others want to see."

"No one likes a stiff character"

"Be you and do you"

What were some of your favorite books when you were a kid?

Frog and Toad are Friends by Arnold Lobel
Clifford the Big Red Dog by Norman Bridwell
Paddington Bear by Michael Bond and illustrated by Peggy Fortnum

The Berenstain Bears by Stan and Jan Berenstain

Where can we see more of your artwork? 

Minikin, The Elf Who Saved Christmas by Alison and Mike Battle, Bloomsbury UK, 2017.

Website: erinbalzer.comInstagram: @erin_balzerFacebook: Erin Balzer

Thanks, Erin! Welcome to KidLitArtists!


  1. you have shared whatever was in ma mind, i like your art which is your blog. i'd really share your bio as an artist on Nefelibata.
    it's ma art : D for those cloud lovers. like you can get your fave piece of artworks, a cloud.
    wish you visit mine : )

  2. I was so thrilled when Erin won! I'd never met her in person before, but her little traveling raccoon in her portfolio captured my heart! I can't wait to see her art in bookstores everywhere.