Last week I made a trip out to New York to accept my award from the Society of Illustrators. This year I was accompanied by my sassy partner in crime, Mary Peterson, who refused to be photographed in the flight but was kind enough to take a photo bumping fists with me as shown here...
Mary's book, Piggies In the Pumpkin Patch, was also being honored at the show and so we booked the same flight out, booked at the same hotel, and it just made my trip that much more delightful. I love her to death.
Once I landed I met with my agent, Jodi Reamer, that night for dinner. I presented her with a painting that I made for her to hang in her office (or home) because that's what clients do for their awesome agents and stuff, right? I also presented her with a business card design which she requested for over a year ago and I FINALLY designed for her...
Jodi was sweet enough to take me out to dinner at a NYC restaurant called NINJA, which entailed Ninja servers jumping out of shadows and making me scream like a girl a couple of times. I kid you not. The running joke between Jodi and I durng my entire stay was that if I was one of the Native Americans in Dances With Wolves, I would be appropriately named "Screams Like A Girl" In a nutshell, the food was amazing, but all the ninja antics cheesed up the whole establishment to what we equated to as, Medieval Times, but with ninjas.... And some of the best Sake I've ever tasted in my life. For real.
The next day was nice and relaxed. I had breakfast with an old college friend and then, thanks to Facebook, I realized that there was a panel on Multiculturalism in Picture Books being held at Scholastic and so I made a surprise visit to see my friends, Pat Cummings, Selina Alko, and R Gregory Christie who were kind enough to give me their amazing books..
Right after that I went right upstairs to where the magic happens and I had a meeting with my editor, Rachel Griffiths and art director, Phil Falco, or my upcoming graphic novel, SIDEKICKS, which, I had no idea that they had already started promoting (that's how on top of things I am)
Here is a view from the most recent Scholastic catalog....
Watch the Librarian preview here and fast forward to around 18:48 to see Arthur Levine give an awesome summary of my book.
After the great meeting it was time to go to the show. I met up with Jodi at Writer's House and headed off.
The first thing I noticed was that the Society of Illustrators was much better ventilated. I along with everyone else usually sweat it out for the two hours we are there. I was rather nervous, knowing I had to give some sort of speech, so maybe I had no time to think about sweating? I definitely felt like I had to pee on that stage.
My speech in a nutshell thanked Mac Barnett for writing an amazing manuscript that I felt like I was born to illustrate. I even wore a necktie in his honor because he is so well known to make public appearances in such dapper form. I thanked editor Tamson Weston and art director Scott Piehl for allowing me to have the freedom to do (almost) whatever I wanted. I thanked my agent Jodi (it was the first book we signed together) and I thanked my family for their love and support. Lastly, I thanked everyone else in the room for making me strive to do better.
You get the jist.
Here's a visual summary of what went down...
Other After After Party attendees included, Connie Hsu, Alvina Ling, Laurent Lin, Selina Alko, Sean Qualls, Brian Floca, Lauren Castillo, and many others. It was especially nice to hang with Connie and Alvina because our Little Brown book, The Adventures of Nanny Piggins was also in the show!
Take a gander at the medal. Can someone explain to me why it has the image of a bloated cow?
The next morning was a last minute breakfast with author freinds at Starbucks...
We then met up with Mary at Books of Wonder and watched Scott sign a whole mountain of Mostly Monsterly books and Spoon while Julia signed a stack of Dotty.... My books weren't available...
I have to admit it still all feels like a dream. Never in my life did I ever imagine I would ever win an award of any kind. These sort of awards go to folks like Kadir Nelson, Paul Zelinksky, David Shannon, David Wiesner, and the usual suspects of artists in the business who recieve countless starred reviews. You almost grow accustomed to hearing their names year in and year out when award ceremonies come around.
But not someone like me.
I published my first book in 2004 to so-so reviews and I've illustrated other books that have been picked to pieces. I have to admit that my debut year hit me pretty hard and to this day I feel like I have something to prove.
(You have no idea how terrified I am about when my graphic novel comes out.)
I stumbled out of the gate. I was the young has-been and every new book project I got I felt was going to be the last one. Admittedly, for the last seven years I feel like I've been tryng to dig myself out of that hole. I know you're not supposed to care about what reviewers say but I can't help myself. An artist always wants to put out their best work and they want everyone to like it which is why this award meant so much to me. It was the first time ever that I actually felt like I belonged in the business. I honestly feel like the awards can go to anyone every year. All the work presented year in and year out is very strong and I always go through the O Show catalogue thinking, "Why not this book? Or this one?" It doesn't devalue what I think the award represents but it does tell me that I'm extremely lucky to be considered, as an equal at least, to an impressive company of peers. This may be my first award or it may be the last one I ever get, but I for one will never forget that 2010 as the first time I felt like I was part of the club.