Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

SCBWI Montana’s Illustrator Extravaganza

Date(s) - 05/14/2022 - 05/15/2022
8:00 am - 6:45 pm


Illustrator Extravaganza!

Ready to take your career to the next level and hear from industry leaders? Join SCBWI Montana for our spring online conference!

Date: May 14 & 15, 2022 on Zoom

Conference Registration: $55 for SCBWI members/$65 for non-members

Live critiques: $55 (additional)
Critiques by:
Melissa Nelson Greenberg
Chad Beckerman
Taylor Abatiell
Kristen Nobles

Portfolios and dummies of 10-15 images should be submitted in a PDF format no larger than 10MB.

*If you are registering for a live critique, you must register for the conference at the same time. Art work is due to by April 18, 2022.

*Our small region does not accept PayPal. When you register online, you must pay by credit card or debit card. Thank you.

All sessions will be in Mountain Standard Time. Sessions will be recorded and available for viewing for two weeks after the event.

Zoom links will be emailed to paid attendees on May 13, 2022.


Conference Schedule

May 14

8am-8:45am MST: Conference Welcome, Meet and Greet, and Illustrator Warm Up/Quick Draw

9am-10:30am MST:  Webinar with Taylor Abatiell, Children’s Book Designer at Penguin Random House
Session Description:

Featuring examples and tips for interpreting art notes, revisions, and final presentation of commissioned art.
Taylor Abatiell is a New York based Senior Designer at Penguin Workshop, an imprint of Penguin Random House. She develops children’s books, middle grade novels, and licensed series. Her responsibilities include art directing illustrators, type and branding design, expanding on longstanding series such as Eric Carle and Mad Libs, and adapting licensed content to the children’s book market, such as Sonic and Mighty Express. Previous projects include Clyde the Hippo, Mother Goose to the Rescue, Kirkus starred Humpty Dumpty Lived Near a Wall, and the #1 NYT best-selling series Who HQ. She also specializes in inclusive art direction, and champions diverse creators and stories for underrepresented audiences.

Taylor Abatiell, Penguin Random House

11am-12:30pm: Webinar with Chad Beckerman, Agent with The CAT Agency Inc.
Session Description:


How to build your “visual voice” into your brand as an Illustrator/Creator to get noticed by Agents, Editors, and Art Directors.

Illustration and literary agent Chad W. Beckerman brings over 20 years of illustration and design experience to the CAT Agency. After studying illustration as an undergrad at RISD, he later became the Creative Director at ABRAMS Kids and Comic Arts, where he spent 13 years overseeing the design of 250 books a year – from picture books, to novels, to graphic novels, and art and entertainment books. Chad is behind the aesthetic for over forty New York Times bestselling and award-winning books including the blockbuster Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney, the Caldecott honor and Corretta Scott King Award winning Trombone Story, illustrated by Brian Collier, and the Newbery Medal honor books El Deafo, and Heart of the Samurai.

He executed the design architecture for countless series including Origami Yoda by Tom Angelberger, The Questioneers (Iggy Peck, Rosie Revere, Ada Twist) by Andrea Beaty and David Roberts, Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales, Frank Einstein by Jon Scieszka and Brian Biggs,
The Terrible Two by Mac Barnett and Jory John, The Sisters Grimm and Jared Chapman’s Vegetables in Underwear.

Chad’s greatest joy is working with illustrators, and as an agent he is busy curating and cultivating a unique group of artists who are inspiring and innovating in children’s literature. Chad represents illustrators and author/illustrators from all over the globe, who create artwork for all ages and genres. He has a particular passion for graphic novels.

In addition to representing illustrators, Chad offers packaging of picture books, graphic novels
and middle-grade series books through his design studio CWB Art & Design (

Chad Beckerman of The CAT Agency


1pm-2:30pm: Webinar with Montana illustrator Erika Wilson

Session Description:


Are you a traditional artist who wants to cross over, but you find the technology daunting? Are you considering an iPad purchase, but unsure on where to start? This webinar is for you! You CAN illustrate in Procreate!

Erika Wilson is a techno-shy, analog-loving printmaker from Montana, who has illustrated award-winning children’s books both traditionally and digitally. If SHE can do it, you can too! In this webinar you will learn her favorite Procreate tips and tricks; from textures to type, file formatting to full-bleeds. If you are more comfortable with a #2 pencil in your hand than a stylus, this webinar is for you!

Erika Wilson, Montana Illustrator



3:00-4:30pm: Webinar with Kristen Nobles, Art Director at Charlesbridge

Session Description:


The origin of the word illustrate includes wonderful synonyms such as illuminate, make clear, give glory. What great phrases to explain the illustrator’s role in children’s books! As an art director, Kristen works with illustrators to shed light on emotion, clarify story, and ultimately deliver glorious images. She’ll exemplify the elements of excellent book illustration including (but not limited to) pacing, character, and style; and share Charlesbridge’s process of pairing an illustrator to a text.

Kristen Nobles has worked in children’s books for over twenty years as a Publisher, Art Director, and Designer at independent publishing houses including Candlewick Press, Chronicle Books, and Page Street Publishing. Currently, as an Art Director at Charlesbridge, she loves to collaborate with debut talent on strong characters, stories with heart, or a surprising spin on the tried-and-true subjects of kid books. She graduated from the University of Buffalo with degrees in Communication Design and Art History, and has pursued further studies at SVA, Harvard, and Mass Art. With 2 kids under 2.5 years old, Kristen spends her free time napping – at home near Providence, RI, or lakeside in her cozy Maine cottage. Visit

Kristen Nobles, of Charlesbridge




5:00-6:00pm Closing Session, Social and Door Prizes

Sunday, May 15: Live Critiques

*A limited number of live critiques will be available to purchase. Live critiques are only available to registered conference attendees and critiques are an additional cost.  Your live critique will be 20 minutes on Zoom with your selected professional. Live critiques will be scheduled on Saturday and Sunday. You may submit your portfolio or dummy to by April 18, 2022. In addition to the 20 minute live conversation, participants will receive a written critique as well. Portfolios and dummies of 10-15 images should be submitted in a PDF format no larger than 10MB. Check out this helpful link if you have questions about how to create a portfolio:

Additional Cost: $55.

** All attendees will be able to submit their art to conference speakers for consideration.


Critique Only: Melissa Nelson Greenberg has been working in the kid lit field since 1999. She began her career at Clarion Books, then moved on to Knopf, a division of Random House. Currently, she is the art director for Cameron Kids, a division of Abrams. She spends her days collaborating with wonderful artists and book people. One of her greatest joys as an art director is helping artists find their spark and running with it to create amazing visual worlds to help and inspire children. Greenberg has won numerous awards in both the design and children’s book fields, but what matters to her the most is making meaningful work and pushing the boundaries of design. In addition to being an art director, she is an author. Her books include Oh, Bear, illustrated by Ruth Hengeveld.

Melissa Nelson Greenberg, Art Director, Cameron Kids/Abrams