Monday, September 30, 2019

Interview with Neena Phan, 2019 SCBWI LA Mentorship Award Winner

This interview series introduces the talented recipients of the SCBWI Mentorship Award at the 2019 Summer Conference. Please welcome Neena Phan to the KidLitArtists Blog!

Neena Phan graduated from The New School with a degree in fashion design. Upon graduating, she realized that storytelling and illustration aligned with her skills and interest more so than fashion. Aligning morally, children’s books was the inevitable next step. And a happy and fulfilling step it was.

Did the feedback you received during the mentorship critiques either changes or confirm the direction of your illustration? Are there any specific examples you can share?
Receiving feedback from all of the mentors definitely confirmed the direction of my illustration. There were a couple of pieces in my portfolio that were liked universally by everyone. It helped me question what it is that I liked about those pieces and why they’re strong, and most importantly, how it’s unique to me. Lots of self-discovery haha!

What kind of projects are you working on now?
I’m working on a picture book based off of one of the pieces in my portfolio (the blue cabbage spread) and I’m also working on an illustrated novel. Both are personal projects.

Any one piece of bad advice you received regarding your illustration career? 
I didn’t receive any bad advice. I don’t really believe in bad advice to be honest. There is perhaps a very fine line between advice and opinion...and I’m still working on differentiating between the two! Funnily enough, I’ve come to learn that upon discerning what is advice and what is opinion for myself is also subjective in nature as well! So being subjective about something subjective can be quite tricky sometimes… or perhaps I just overthink things (pretty much almost always the case). 

Is there any type of illustration (or other work) that you’re hoping for in the near future? I am interested in illustrating a picture book written by someone else or perhaps making a stop motion animation short.

What was one of your favorite quotes or lessons from the SCBWI Summer conference?
Favorite lesson...Patience. Seeing all of these amazingly talented people speak and give lectures was so inspiring. But I had to step back and think for a moment to remember that all of these people got to where they are today with TIME. It can be exciting to hear their life stories in 45 minutes or less. But those 45 minutes are years in the making. Having that perspective was crucial for me.

What were some of your favorite books when you were a kid?I didn’t grow up with books. I suppose I’m sort of a late bloomer. ...the first picture book that I was simply amazed by was “Duck, Death and the Tulip” by Wolf Erlbruch.

Where can we see more of your artwork?
I put up my work on behance and I have a website: and 

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