Pointers from the Pros: Art Director Kristen Nobles Talks Picture Books

Pointers from the Pros” gives tips from authors and publishing industry professionals on everything from craft to querying to their experiences on the road to publication.*

I attended the 2011 SCBWI MD/DE/WV’s Spring into Action conference in Buckeystown, Md., with some of my favorite-evers. As usual, I took a ton of notes at all the faboo sessions I was lucky enough to attend—and I’m sharing some of those tips with my lovely blog readers. (Thanks for being so fabulous, BTW!)

Here are some of Candlewick Press art director Kristen Nobles‘s tips from her session, “Thinking Visually: The Illustrator as Illuminator”:



  • Be clean & neat
  • Respect your work
  • Be organized & timely
  • Be collaborative
  • Be communicative
  • Be confident
  • If you’re unpubbed, don’t send her proposals every week—quarterly or seasonally is a good rule of thumb—you have to edit yourself

Technical Proficiency*

  • Master your medium
  • Don’t send work in a technique you’ve just learned
  • Be comfortable in your style
  • Remember: the quality of your craft is important
  • Learn composition!  Think about it in terms of pages—how it will look on a page
  • take classes—and if you don’t have an art degree, give yourself assignments & deadlines


  • Your work should speak to children
  • Should transport children to another world

*they expect you to bring these things to the table—the rest, they’ll work with you on


  • Characters should have unique personalities
  • You must make a character recognizable throughout the entire book—multiple renderings must look the same
  • You must be able to draw the same character from many different POVs—must look the same
    • A lot of times, the characters will always be wearing the same clothes/hairstyles throughout series (for consistency’s sake)
  • Pages should end in cliffhangers—not just the words, but also the pictures


  • What is your passion? Your interest? (If you examine these things, it can be an outlet for how your story, your characters will stand out)
  • What’s NOT out there? What HASN”T been done?
  • What new style, medium, or perspective can you contribute?

For a complete recap of the conference, see author Laura Bowers’s post here.

One thought on “Pointers from the Pros: Art Director Kristen Nobles Talks Picture Books

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s