Posted by: Kathy Temean | August 10, 2015

Highlights From the LA SCBWI Conference

vacation for Kathy

Vacation by Dow Phumiruk

Dow Phumiruk is a pediatrician who has found her passion in art. She has been featured on Illustrator Saturday and is a regular illustrator contributor. When I found out she had attended the LASCBWI Conference, I ask her if she would share her experience with us, so now I can say she is also a article contributor to Writing and Here is the link to Dows feature on Illustrator Saturday: She is definitely someone to watch:

Here is Dow:


Dow Phumiruk

Kathy asked if I’d write about this year’s SCBWI LA conference, and I was happy to oblige with some of my highlights, mostly from an illustrator perspective. This was my third summer conference experience, and again I return home exhausted yet motivated and inspired to create. In attendance were over 1100 writers and illustrators from 19 countries. The lineup included a stellar cast of keynote speakers: Mem Fox, Dan Santat, Adam Rex, Molly Idle, Shannon Hale, Stephen Fraser, Kwame Alexander, and more. There were agent and editor panels sharing what hooks them, the industry update, success stories, and a diversity panel. It feels like having a thousand friends over for a weekend sleepover party at the Hyatt – only better, because these friends are your favorite kind of people: like-minded creative types who adore the children’s book industry.

The authors and illustrators that took stage enlightened us with their keynotes, personalities, and stories of paths to success. Mem Fox was lovely in so many ways, with her humor, her expressiveness, and of course, her stories – all so very entertaining. Adam Rex’s keynote was especially fun to hear, because I first met him at our local conference when I was new to SCBWI in 2011. He’s had a great year!! Shannon Hale and Kwame Alexander made all of us laugh… and cry… and laugh some more.

I attended several illustrator breakout sessions and learned how Dan Santat uses design to his advantage. Molly Idle was the perfect artist to discuss movement in picture book illustrations. Adam Rex showed us characters with character.

There were so many great moments, I thought I’d share a few in list form (or else this post will go on forever!):

  • Lin and Steve, best friends, on stage
  • Mem Fox and her “book drop” at the end of her read-aloud
  • The editor panel during which the Spice Girls movie was quoted
  • Learning that many an artist’s education has included sketching from Alfred Hitchcock movie scenes to study their use of composition, perspective, and lighting
  • Stephen Fraser’s advice to learn from classics that included, “Let joy spill out”- how fabulous is that!!
  • Shannon Hale and her keynote about genderless books, her collection of rejection letters, and her hilarious photos
  • Marla Frazee critiquing my portfolio (*insert several wide-eyed adoring fan emojis here*)
  • The incredible display of art in the portfolio showcase

dow 2015 LA Conference

  • OF COURSE, the Sparkle and Shine gala and costume party on a beautiful LA night with a big, bright moon (My friends Sue Schmitt and Jill Bergman joined me in a costume trio that took second place: SCBWIndex, shiny window, and paper towel roll! We offered to stay and help with clean up, but the hotel staff had it all under control.)

LA Conference 2015 party

LA2015 Dow090

  • The Golden Kite luncheon awards banquet with Paul Fleischman and Dan Yaccarino (“This is why we don’t have nice things!”)
  • Meeting this year’s On-the-Verge Emerging Voices Award winners Heidi Kim and Adria Quinones, and hanging out with Sue Schmitt (author of Planet Kindergarten) who founded the award
  • Meeting Jodi Reamer and discussing deep issues like sugar versus sweetener
  • Kwame Alexander and his poems to his wife (oh, yes, I cried) and hearing how his persistence paid off
  • The illustrator intensive – just wow!
  • Meeting and being surrounded by great friends, old and new
  • The feeling that we are all in this together to make the world a better place

LA ConferenceIMG_5859

I’m going to close by comparing the conference to 3D Virtual Reality Device goggles, which some of us received as unique and very entertaining door prizes. There are some really fantastic apps available with images and video clips to view using these. Much like wearing special goggles allows me to see flat images in three dimensions, attending the SCBWI Los Angeles conference brings depth and a new perspective to our pursuit of writing and illustrating. It brings to life the research we do at home on our computer screens or at the library about editors and agents, authors and illustrators, and the books we admire. There is no more memorable way to learn than by seeing the expert faculty in person, hearing them speak, and in many cases, actually meeting them. Of course, everyone here is very real – no goggles needed! Come by my blog to see all my pictures:

LA SCBWI 2015125

It’s a good thing that Melissa Sweet talked about Roget and his words during the illustrator intensive to remind me of my thesaurus. I’ve used up my vocabulary of superlatives in describing this year’s conference and will need some new words for next year!

Thank you Dow for taking the time to share your experience with everyone. Hope we will continue to hear from you.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Thank you for having me here, Kathy! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow! What a terrific recap. Thanks, Dow! Congratulations on your winning second place with your team costume! And I’m swooning over the fact that you had Marla Frazee critique your portfolio…oh my goodness…
    Maybe one day, I will be able to attend the LA conference. 🙂


  3. Great write-up, Dow! It was fun to be at the conference with you!


    • Thanks, Jill; it was very fun hanging out with you! Thank you for taking the pictures of me and the ballroom to add to my collection. 🙂


  4. Great post, Dow! Fun hearing about your experiences at SCBWI. Sounds like a great time! Your costumes were awesome! Isn’t Marla the best!!? I love her. She was my Children’s Book Illustration instructor at Art Center way back in the early 90s!! 🙂 So glad you got to meet her and have your portfolio reviewed by her. 🙂


    • Thanks, Melissa. Marla is just wonderful!! I am very lucky to have met her. I can imagine she teaches a great class.


  5. I’ve never been to the LA conference, so thanks for sharing your experience. What a great costume!


    • Thanks, Sylvia! I hope to check out the New York conference one day. It’s on the bucket list!


  6. My daughter and I LOVE your hat! So glad you had a great time and hope to hear more – will you be at the regional conference again?


    • Hi Julie! I had so much fun designing and sewing the thing. Yes – I will be at our RMC-SCBWI conference – hope to see you there..

      Liked by 1 person

      • Only wish I could convince you to wear the hat! Haha! Look forward to seeing you!


  7. It looks and sounds absolutely wonderful! I want to go!


    • I hope you get a chance to go one day, Carleen!


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