How did you break into children’s publishing?

TD: I tried to send sample portfolios from afar when I was an art school grad (back in 1992), but it was to no avail. Angela and I then moved to New York City where I began dropping my portfolio off to the various publishing houses. Even then, it took almost three years to break into this field that I adore.

First off, I called many children’s illustrators to get tips on what to have in his portfolio. I began creating images of subjects I like to draw to fill my portfolio. Next, I created a book dummy to show that I understood how books were laid out and produced. Finally, I began going to the bookstore and library weekly to see what kind of books publishers where publishing. I would cater my submissions to publishing houses I thought would respond positively to my work.

I also began contributing work to children’s magazines. Having my work published in this form started creating a familiarity with my work and name.

But most importantly, I did not give up. Whenever I could, I met with editors and art directors in person. With every rejection I learned something new and changed my approach, until I finally got a portfolio I was really proud of. I continued to meet with publishers until I found an editor who really understood me and my potential.

Although I started illustrating for role-playing games, there was no gaming art in my portfolio. All sample pieces were created specifically to showcase what I was capable of in the field of children’s publishing. You can see some of the samples that I presented in the blog post “Bridging the Gap“.

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Never Abandon Imagination Tony DiTerlizzi: Never abandon imagination.

Imagination is a world of possibility that exists within each of us. It is what makes us uniquely human. It is our creative fingerprint that touches and influences the world around us. Imagination is essential to art and science; to innovation and prosperity. It gives us hope, calls us to action and leads to change.

Whether it’s fairies, dragons, robots or aliens, all of my children’s book characters are siblings born of my imagination – an imagination strengthened through years of encouragement from family, teachers and friends. While so many others abandoned it during their transition from childhood to adulthood, I fiercely held onto mine, hoping for a day when I could share it to inspire the next generation of dreamers. Innovators. World changers.

Imagination empowers us to envision and create a reality of what could be. We must hold it dear, foster it and never abandon it.