Wednesday, July 23, 2014


After our retreat to the cabin, we zoomed back into downtown Portland so that, for work, I could attend the ICON8 Illustration Conference. This is where loads and loads of illustrators gather every two years to listen to amazing speakers, hobnob with one another, and generally just revel in the tribe of their people. I had never been to anything quite like this before so wasn't sure what to expect, so was utterly surprised and delighted when the conference opened with a performance by a crazy silver-clad marching band. Clearly, this thing was a big deal and was going to be amazing. And it was! Pretty darn truly seriously amazing. Here's the recap:

We splurged and stayed at the Ace Hotel. Yes! Ace, I adore you. 

Well, I adore everything about the Ace (as their sort-of slogan says, it's "everything you need in a hotel and nothing you don't"), but I especially love the adorable little breakfast room.

After breakfast it was time to get myself ready for the workshop I was teaching.

Then just a quick essential pit-stop for coffee at Sumptown. 

And this was it! On the first morning there I did a 90-minute workshop on "Publishing for Illustrators" for about 50 very engaged and wonderful folks in a classroom at the Pacific Northwest College of Art.

It went well! And here's a special thing: one attendee, artist Pascale Steig, sketched me, using actual wet watercolors, while I was teaching. Crazy amazing.

After my talk was done (phew!) I spent most of the rest of the conference in the lovely ballroom of the Portland Art Museum (which has very nice light fixtures).

Listening to an incredible roster of smart and intriguing main-stage speakers, and avidly note-taking (once an academic nerd, always an academic nerd).

Among my favorites were a panel discussion on collaboration between two amazing Chronicle Books authors/illustrators, Susie Ghahremani and Lisa Congdon, and two of my very own lovely Chronicle colleagues Kristen Hewitt and Christina Amini.

Carson Ellis' keynote was another highlight--this is her childhood drawing of two sad unicorns telepathically connected by a rainbow (yes!)

As was the closing keynote by the profoundly charismatic and inspiring Damian Kulash (maker of music and astonishing videos for the band Ok Go).

One evening there was a super cool art show called Work+Play at the Land Gallery (which we were all delivered to load by load in a shiny red double-decker bus).

And of course I did manage to squeeze in some time to visit that absolute definitive Beulah Land for book-lovers--Powell's. 

My only beef with the conference--and it's a tiny one in the midst of all this awesomeness--is that they schedule you from first thing in the morning till late into the night with no break for dinner. Breakfast and lunch are accounted for, but not suppertime. What the heck? Maybe illustrators don't believe in dinner? One night my evening repast consisted of crackers in my hotel room at ten o'clock, the next night I skipped a chunk of programed activities to have a lovely long chatty meal with some illustrator pals both old and new. And on the last night my friend and I ate ice cream cones for dinner while walking from the final talk to the big closing party. Ok, now that I think about it, maybe I'm glad about this whole no-dinner thing, as some lovely experiences ended up coming out of it (ok, well, except for the cracker incident. but one learns from experience).


  1. Great recap! Ice cream cones for dinner doesn't sound so bad. :)

    1. Kelley -- you are right, the ice cream was for sure a from-rain-to-rainbows happy thing! xo b