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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Handmade House in Bush, "Kangaroos, Wombats are Next Door"

We had a great time in an all-handmade house in the "BUSH" (= "wild or uncultivated country," in Australian English). Thirty years ago, like pioneers, my dear friend's sibling built up the house brick by brick with friends' help on a hill. What I loved most was that the house has all 19th century setting in it -- no electricity! As if we were time slipping back to a frontier time!

We had to drive down to Town to buy food, see people, sheep or cows. The trees are alive and the creatures that share it all with us are very generous! Can you imagine? Oh, everything antique in the house, around the house amused visitors such as a kitchen, an attic bedroom, a loo, furniture, coal irons, oil lamps, a white tin pail bucket etc, etc, Hail the builders' frontier spirit!
Here, a kitchen has a very old fashioned atmosphere I've loved. What would you like to cook for dinner? 

Tada~~, see this wonderful and super-solid brick house with a chimney and water tanks! 
I've also learned how much important water is in bush. We tried to save it as much as possible. Rain water was quite tasty. 
Come in, Friends!  
Now, let me take you to upstairs. Watch your steps (no handle!). I've loved this attic bedroom so much. You cannot imagine how much I got excited to sketch this room and its light! Hope you can feel the mood.

BTW, an out side of the house, I picked up a small animal's skull, old and broken. I googled a rabbit, a possum, a kangaroo, a wombat, a flying fox, a sheep, a dingo, a cat, but none of them seems to match that skull (*or simply because my lack of knowledge of animal anatomy...) Mystery?! Does anyone have an idea?  
In the bush, kangaroos and wombats are next doors. I've found that kangaroos' grey is camouflaging them in the bush, because gum trees and eucalyptus tree trunks are grey! It was very hard to tell kangaroos in trees. Some brave kangaroos came to the house, just under our window or even at a door! Wow!! They quickly skipped away from us, when we looked at them. So, all my sketched kangaroos are back figures.
In bush walking, the friends said, "Wombats put (their pulled down) trees over their holes and cover it." Oh, I see. But trees were too big and too clear. I said, "Well, in my eyes, it's more like showing off their house number plates, not cover-up!" We giggled!
When a night came, so many stars came up. Those dark starry skies were incredible. Interestingly, when the bright moon rose, the stars lost shining and the dark sky got brighter.  
Then, a chimney was so pleasant in eye and for heart. Come closer and make yourself at home. Relax! (*Under a lamp, in the nearly darkness, I made this image! But an enhanced value worked well. Hurray!) 
Each of us said, "I want to stay here more and don't want to go back to Sydney!" at the end of holidays.
It was wonderful to stay in a countryside. My picture book mentor Ann James is so glad to know this experience has enriched my images. Great inspirations for illustration!! Friends, go to the "bush" and sketch anything that interests you!
Although this Easter holiday was marvelous, please give my hands more blog holiday leave. Thank you for your kind understanding.
Friends, Happy Painting!


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Networking, Illustrator's Essential Skills

I've finished up the picture book illustration. Thank you for great patience and warm cheers! Helen Chamberlin and Ann James love my work so much. Soon, a courier sent by Publisher will pick up the packed work. A book designer and we'll work on layout and editing. Exciting! 

BTW, this blog post focuses on "successful networking," critically important skills for picture book illustrators and artists. Sounds strange? Is an "enough talent" alone enough? Think this truth that you cannot make a picture book all by yourself. A picture book illustrator must connect people and works together. The same is true of fine artists wishing to display work must find venues and need to sell it. Can you provide space, time and money all by yourself? In other words, if a person just wants to work alone, s/he would never get a chance to be an illustrator.

What is successful networking? In my view, good networking gets more nice friends and establishes mutual-help in business. Networking gives an artist a job opportunity and promotes your own work. In turn, an employer/publisher gains commercial benefits from your art work. Indeed, it's a two-way, a "give and take" system in human connection and win-win for both parties. Joining networking events gives us insightful knowledge and useful experiences, too. 

Dane Ropa, Deputy Principal, Balgowlah Boys Campus, 
Northern Beaches Secondary College
@ "Arts and Education Partnership Forum" (*content of workshops)
I've learned effective networking skills from uni life -- full of formal and informal events such as conferences, workshops and parties. I was too shy at events, but uni lecturers encouraged me to try them for social skills. As well as lecturers, an editor at Scholastic Australia, highly recommended me to attend networking events. My mentor, Ann James, too. Great advice. I started to observe how good networkers behave in events and found principal factors. 
Let's chat over main elements, in order to achieve successful networking,  
Networking skills are communication skills that connect others, promote yourself and market yourself. In a social context, good networkers are, "being friendly, approachable, open minded, good at listening = makes others comfy in a chat." In my observation, smart people chat around in a room. So, don't stay at a same spot or a person. Technically, effective networkers always have attractive business cards and reach at target people. A smart business card is a handy resume and an impressive ad flyer. Friends, make nice business cards! People often give positive feedback to well-designed business cards at once.

"Be prepared and well organised," is another important element. Have a compact showcase of your work. Seeing is believing. Good art work speaks loud your talents and skills. I bring sample works with me in a practical way. After looking at my sample work, some editors have given me projects immediately on spot, because editors are always searching for Illustrators matching their projects. Only distinguished art work convinces editors of your ability that will accomplish their picture book texts. Although a buyers market, celebrated artists have advantage in "demand & supply" on market. Friends, let us be the best of best in our own genres and make ourselves standout on market. 
Libby Gleeson facilitator for ARTISTS BEYOND THE CLASSROOM: 
Furthermore, "set a target/goal and organise methods/devices" are crucial in networking skills. This is an example for networking. 
Last week, I, Sadami Konchi joined a wonderful workshop, "Arts and Education Partnership Forum" held by Parramatta Council. Key panellers were widely ranged first class guys from such as academia, science, music education, Opera house Head of Children, Families & Education, contemporary art museums and publishing industry. All presenters have been achieving wonderdul contributions to art and school. Their interesting talk inspired us, attendances. I've learned practical approaches to work with school. My most target group was publishing industry people : Australian legend author Libby Gleeson, Westwards and education's key person Judith Ridge, established illustrators, Sarah Davis and award-winning illustrator Kylie Dunstan. Although we already know each other, catching up is very meaningful. Before a workshop started, we carefully looked at my *dummy* (= a small picture book). The publishing industry people gave me feedback and celebrated my work with Helen Chamberlin and Ann James. Kylie is working with Helen. I love her collage and stories (*Kylie writes and illustrates!). I asked Kylie to pass on my best wishes to OUR editor / publisher Helen in Melbourne. 
Key Speaker @ "Arts and Education Partnership Forum"
(*PopUpParra PhotoAlbum)
During the forum, my sketches amused presenters and others, even an event organising team! Looking at a watercolour painging process is fun for anyone. We straight away got into a friendly mood and shared a nice time. All posted sketches are from the workshops! Libby called me, "Mate!" (* = intimate "Friend" in colloquial Australian English*) after looking at my sketch. Now, the attendances had enjoyed my drawing skills and knew my illustration work. We friendly exchanged business cards and smile. Some participants would looked forward to my this blog post. Nice! We get mutual connection, wider support and merits in social and commercial phases. 
Special thanks to the event team and Merryn Spencer, a gerat Creative Broker at Parramatta City Council!!

Although sweet Publisher/Editor Helen Chamberlin says, "You (= illustrator Sadami ) are the star!" in our ongoing picture book publishing project, my response is, "No. All of us, OUR hard work, Author, Editor, Mentor, Book Designer etc, etc." Connect others and work others in a harmonious way, is essential. 

Without successful networking, neither chance nor opportunity will open a door for an artist. In my view, luck does not exist in publishing industry, BUT good networking skills build luck for an illustrator/artist who can maximise 
opportunity and use it at best. So, Friends, go and join events! Don't be shy, but be prepared and enjoy experiences! Look at good networkers and enrich your knowledge and get more chance! Go, go, Friends!
Now, Easter Holiday. I'll enjoy staying with friends in a country side. No electricity, no internet connection, but kangaroos and wild creatures! I'll sketch Australian bush! So, please pardon my no response to your comments. Thank you for giving me a blog holiday leave and my hands get better, but the hands need a bit more holiday. You, too, please enjoy an Easter Holiday and a safe trip.  
Friends, Happy Painting!! 

In addition, here is the forum in vimeo by courtesy of Merryn Spenser.