It's always so hard to sum these things up... As usual it was half mind-boggling information, half uplifting inspiration. But I think it's more about the feeling you walk away with. I walked away feeling like I belong to a wonderful community. Even though I didn't know many people going this year, I had no trepidation walking into a room full of people (OK, I did at first, but that soon dissipated) and striking up a conversation with any attendee, knowing that we were all in the same boat, speaking a shared language.
Some highlights for me were hearing the Walker Books team take The Croc And The Platypus from conception to completion– a panel equipped with Editor, Author, Art Director, Illustrator, and Marketing Director, and hearing the renowned Bruce Whatley speak of his artistic journey. There is plenty more detail on the SCBWI-Aus/NZ blog so I won't go into it too much here.
Another feeling I got is that the picture book (and wider children's book) market is alive and well. A few years ago the discussion centred around how digital publishing might take away from traditional publishing. Now it feels like the panic has mellowed a bit and everyone is more confident. In fact, this wasn't even a topic for discussion throughout the whole conference! And I even heard a few publishers say they were actively looking for new illustrators, so that is wonderful news.
Another wonderful part of the conference is the Illustrator Portfolio Showcase, which gives participants a chance for local publishers, art directors and editor to view their work - a rare chance to get your illustrations under the noses of important people! This is only the 2nd time they have featured this, but it was very popular with publishers. Viewers are encouraged to leave comments on the folios, and I got a few on mine, leaving me feeling quite jumpy and positive. You can see the folio I submitted here.
All in all, a wonderful experience and one I would love to repeat... tomorrow!
ps. I took not a one photo the whole time, so all photos are courtesy the SCBWI blog