Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Art of Mentoring: How an Award-Winning Illustrator Helps Newbies

One of Mark's 40+ paintings for Warner Brothers.
You'd think illustrator Mark Braught--who has his hands full creating award-winning illustrations for clients across the globe--would be too busy to reach out to young artists trying to break into the business of children's publishing.  You'd be wrong.
As part of Illustrator's Day at the upcoming Springmingle Southern-Breeze conference of the Society for Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, Mark is doing more than just sharing his knowledge and experience. He is mentoring twelve illustrators who registered early for Illustrator's Day.  That means he's going to spend almost two months working with twelve artists to give them a taste of what it's like to work with an art director in children's publishing.  

This is not a "Oh, I'll just give a short class and forget it" kind of commitment. It means countless hours guiding illustrators so that when they actually submit to publishers, they will know the process inside out and come across in the most professional way possible. Dude. That's some serious stuff!

Q:  Thanks for stopping by for this Springmingle blog tour, Mark. I have to say, mentoring illustrators--all of whom are at different points in their careers--is a huge undertaking. Why do it?

A:  It seems only right. There have been (and still are) people out there that have been incredibly helpful to me. I've done this before and I think I learn as much or more in these situations than the participants.

Q:  What can artists expect to learn and experience during the two-month long process that kicks off at Springmingle?

A: Hopefully, participants will gain an insight in regards to what to expect when they work with an art director on a project. What to present, how to present, how to follow-up, anticipate and get familiar with the process. 
Q:  What will be the final outcome?
Mark illustrated the Caldecott nominated picture book, COSMO'S MOON.

A:  Participants will create a finished illustration from the process. The goal is to help them create an image they feel is worthy of their portfolio (and hopefully gets them their next assignment). It would be wonderful if each participant walks away feeling that they are better than when they started.

Q:  How has being a part of SCBWI helped and supported your own professional career?

A: The networking and the information gained has been (and continues to be) invaluable. I have also met some wonderful people through SCBWI.  

Q: What advice would you give illustrators trying to break into children's books?


A: Get your work in front of the people you want to work for and keep showing them new stuff (never stop painting).
(ed: And I would add, next year register early for Illustrator's Day!)

Q: Tell us about your latest project(s)--what are you working on?

A: I just finished up a project with some people in the Netherlands and am currently working on some images for a university focusing on science. Additionally, there’s a picture that is almost completely sketched out. On the side, I’m working on graphic novel with some folks out west and playing around with a few ideas for a couple of strips.

Q:  There is so much talk about how the industry is changing and what role authors and illustrators will play in the future of publishing. What do you see?

A: In the end, illustrators will continue to illustrate. Images are going to remain important to the sale and marketing of words and thoughts. That will never change.  However, copyright and usage is an ever-expanding frontier. All creators need to stay on top of these things. 

Thank you Mark! I you haven't registered for Springmingle yet, go here.

Mark Braught, has created images for some of the finest editorial, advertising, publishing and institutional clients and organizations in the United States. After attending Minneapolis College of Art & Design and receiving a BFA from Indiana State University, Mark began his career as an art director and creative director for various advertising agencies and publishers. His work has received numerous awards including a nomination for a Caldecott Award. Mark has taught at a number of institutions such as the Atlanta College of Art, University of Georgia, Creative Circus and Portfolio Center.
Check out the blog tour of all the major conference speakers:

Jan. 21: Will Terry, illustrator, at Elizabeth O. Dulemba's blog
Jan. 22: Beck McDowell, author, at Bonnie Herold's "Tenacious Teller of Tales"
Jan. 23: Nikki Grimes, author, at Gail Handler's "Write From the Soul"
Jan. 24: Jill Corcoran, agent, at Donny Seagraves' blog
Jan. 25: Chad Beckerman, creative director, at Laura Golden's blog
Jan. 28: Katherine Jacobs, editor, at Cathy C. Hall's blog
Jan. 29: Mark Braught, illustrator, at Vicky Alvear Shecter's "History with a Twist"
Jan. 30: Carmen Agra Deedy, author, at Ramey Channell's "The Moonlight Ridge Series"


Anonymous said...

Bravo for Mark--and thanks for highlighting him and the art of mentoring.

Oh. I just got that little pun. ;-)

Jo S. Kittinger said...

Folks like Mark are what make SCBWI so special and the world a more beautiful place!

Elizabeth O. Dulemba said...

Truly, Mark has been so generous with his time and enthusiasm for our budding illustrators. We are lucky to have him in our Southern Breeze SCBWI! :) e

Vicky Alvear Shecter said...

Yup, Mark's quiet but intense commitment to helping others is really impressive. But then again you guys (Elizabeth, Jo and Cathy) do a tremendous amount too!

Ginger Garrett Arias said...

We're very lucky in the Southern Breeze region to have such amazing leadership.
Great post, Vicky!

Robyn Hood Black said...

Mark is one of the reason our region rocks! Talent + experience + generosity.

Thanks to you both for a great interview!

Vicky Alvear Shecter said...

Thanks Ginger and Robyn, for stopping by!