Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

2023 Conference Portfolio Showcase


The Portfolio Showcase offers illustrators a chance to display their work to faculty and conference attendees. Please see all guidelines and FAQ below.

Portfolios will be on display Saturday at the Austin SCBWI Writers and Illustrators Working Conference 2023, open for viewing by all conference attendees and faculty. Portfolios in the Showcase are eligible for awards and a mentorship (see below). The winners will be announced at the end of the day Saturday.

To be included in the Portfolio Showcase, you must sign up for it when you register for the conference. There is a $10 fee. If you have already registered for the conference and would like to add the Showcase to your registration, please email Illustrator Coordinator Laura Fisk at austin-ic @ scbwi dot org.


Awards and Mentorship Opportunities for the Portfolio Showcase
A jury of attending industry professionals will select a Grand Prize Winner and two Honors Winners.

The Grand Prize Winner will receive:
– A year’s membership to SCBWI (if you are already a member, your membership for the next year will be paid for)
– $50 art supply gift certificate
– The opportunity to design the banner for the SCBWI Austin website, e-newsletter and Facebook Community Water Cooler. That illustrated banner will be on display for the following year and included in a gallery of past headers going forward. The winning illustrator will be promoted along with their artwork, including links to their website.

The two Honors Winners will receive gift certificates to an art supply store.

Emerging Voice Illustrator Mentor Award – The winner will receive a year’s mentorship with a local published illustrator to help bring their work to the next level. The mentor for 2023 year will be Vanessa Roeder.

Entrants to the Showcase are automatically signed up for all of the above. If you do not wish to be considered for the mentorship and/or showcase judging, you may choose those options at registration.


Portfolio Guidelines

PORTFOLIO DROP-OFF – 7:00-8:00 am on Saturday, April 29, 2023. Details will be emailed as to exactly where. Participants should pick up their portfolios at the end of the day on Saturday. The winners of the Showcase and Emerging Voice Mentorship will be announced during closing announcements on Saturday.

CONTENT – The portfolio should contain no more than 10-15 representational pieces of your BEST artwork and up to two dummies that you may wish to show.

SIZE – No wider than 32″ wide or taller than 15″ (Recommended interior page sizes from 8”x10”-11″x14”). Please note these sizes are the maximum size when the portfolio is open laid flat. Larger sizes make it difficult to display everyone’s portfolios. Portfolios should be able to lay flat on the display table. Please don’t go over the size so everyone’s artwork has room to shine.

LABELED – Make sure your name is on your portfolio where it is easy to see.  This can be inside, outside or both. Feel free to also have your relevant contact info and social handles (if applicable).

PROMOTIONAL MATERIALS – Promotional postcards or business cards can be placed alongside the illustrator’s portfolio. It’s recommended you bring at least 25 pieces of one type of promo material to have along side your portfolio. For space reasons, nothing beyond a portfolio, optional dummy, and postcards/business cards will be allowed in the Showcase. Promotional materials should be no larger than 5″x7″.

DUMMY BOOK – You may bring up to two dummies, alongside your portfolio. They are NOT required! If you are bringing a book dummy, remember to attach it to your portfolio (a long piece of string or twine is a common solution). The dummy may or may not be your own writing, be sure to credit the writer if it’s not your own words.  A dummy is not a replacement for a portfolio.  It must be in addition to your portfolio.

FORMAT – For liability reasons, no electronic portfolios, such as iPads, will be allowed as part of the showcase. If you only bring an electronic portfolio, it will not be displayed and your reservation fee will not be refunded.

NO PUBLISHED BOOKS – For space reasons, please do not bring copies of published books to display in the Showcase. If you want to include published work, put the artwork in your portfolio.

NO ORIGINAL ARTWORK – Remember NO ORIGINAL ARTWORK should be included in your portfolio. Have high-quality 2D color copies of your art in your portfolio instead.

QUESTIONS? – If you have additional questions about the Portfolio Showcase, please email Illustration Coordinator Laura Fisk.

Am I ready to have a portfolio? Only you can really know that answer, but if you have 10 – 15 pieces you feel good about, and are appropriate to the children’s market (remember children’s books goes up to YA!) then it’s a great opportunity to show your work to your peers, industry professionals, and conference attendees. I’ve found that deadlines do wonders to improve one’s work!

Is it worth going to the conference without a portfolio as an illustrator? YES! Absolutely! You do NOT need to submit a portfolio to make the conference worth while! Attendees are at all different levels, and it’s a time to learn and grow as artists. Do not feel you must submit a portfolio. When you’re ready, you’ll know (or an artist friend will tell you).

Who, really, is looking at my portfolio, how does this all work? There is a room set aside for the portfolios and attendees love checking them out – it’s one of the most fun parts of the conference. We have comment sheets for attendees to write notes of praise. The faculty members (aka industry professionals) are always looking for new work and your portfolio is your best advertisement. Many people have gotten work over the years through showing their portfolios at SCBWI events.

What should I really include in my portfolio? Brevity is the soul of wit as they say. Less is more, they say. But it’s true. If you have 10 strong pieces, that’s better than adding in a couple more pieces to make it feel longer. If you gut feels a little off about a piece, take it out. Ask artistic friends to flip through it and take their advice.  Here’s some great advice from SCBWI.

What if I’m doing a critique or portfolio review? What do I do with my portfolio? If you’re doing a critique or portfolio review on Saturday, you will take your Portfolio from the Showcase room, bring it to your critique and/or portfolio review and then return it when you’re done.

Promotional materials? What are those all about? If you haven’t been to a conference before, illustrators LOVE trading postcards or stickers or business cards or whatever fun marketing materials we create. 4×6 postcards, business cards, or bookmarks are the most popular materials. They are usually double sided, showcasing some of your favorite work, your name and relevant contact info (website, possibly a QR code, social media, email, etc). Order more than you think you’d need and leave some with your portfolio.

Do I have to have a dummy? Absolutely not. Include a dummy only if you feel ready, and have a story to tell. Just like with putting out your best work in your portfolio, that goes for your dummy as well.

What type of physical portfolio is acceptable? As long as it is in the size parameters above, lays flat, and in physical page turn form (digital portfolios are NOT allowed), there’s a range of what you can do. You can do the classic plastic sleeve kind, or get a print out and make a book, or if it fits your style you could do a three ring binder.  Remember you do not need a fancy portfolio to make your work shine.

Any questions? Please email Illustrator Coordinator Laura Fisk.

Register for the 2023 Austin SCBWI Writers and Illustrators Working Conference.