Which original story characters did agent Nicole Tugeau pick out to see finished this month?

Subscribe Now

May 24 Guest Group Critique with Nicole Tugeau!

In an exciting but highly competitive 2016 children's publishing market illustrators need to consider taking one more step to make their portfolios compelling for art directors and editors, suggests literary agent Nicole Tugeau of Tugeau2 Inc.4-14-2016 9-42-14 AM - Copy

"We've seen this market only get more and more saturated," she says in the above video.

"Ten years ago – even five years ago – you used to be able, as an individual unrepresented artist to go into New York City, submit your portfolio to a design team or an art director in the morning and pick it up three hours later with comments or post-it notes on it or a 'thanks, but no thanks' card.

"But you knew you would have eyes on that portfolio.

"What I've found in the past few years is...portfolios alone, sometimes, are not enough," she says. "Even the best portfolio, unless you are dangling a little bit more or sweetening the pot a little bit more, may not be enough..."

Watch our visit with her below to find out what she feels to be the needed – but often missing – ingredient in artists' portfolios and mailings.

Subscribe Now

Click here to subscribe to monthly Guest Group Critiques – or purchase a seat (and your replay access) for only the May 24 session with Nicole. Next month Penguin-Random House senior art director Giuseppe Castellano is set to critique some of our work. You'll receive the details for that session when you subscribe.

The 'missing piece' will be the focus of next month's Guest Group Critique, when Nicole reviews 15 final, full color illustrations that she's assigned from the May sketch submissions.

4-15-2016 12-53-31 PMLast week Nicole picked the 15 sketches she'd like to see brought to final art stage.

We'll join her live on May 24 when she critiques the results. She'll also be available to answer your questions about the children's publishing art market and how to maximize your opportunities there.

Monthly group critiques are 'perfect practice'

They tell you...

  • What isn't working

  • When to push harder

  • When to just stop

And help you to...

  • Get a fresh perspective

    Our guest critiquers – illustrators, author-illustrators, children’s literary agents, art directors, maybe an editor or two  – examine your final in a spirit of teaching and mentoring.

  • Think more like a pro

    Watch up close and personal how full-time creatives evaluate and troubleshoot their own and others’ pieces.

  • Prepare for that thing

    That upcoming kidlit (or illustrators’) conference, important promotional mailing, post or sit-down with a client.

  • Sharpen your discernment powers

    Remind you of those bedrock principles of draftsmanship, design and communication. (Funny how they keep bringing you back to those.)

  • Meet your tribe

    Your colleagues and the expert practioners. Who share their What I Wish I Knew Then stories and become your contacts in ‘the biz.’ (It’s called networking.)

  • Get better at getting better

    Practice with critiques helps you understand the hierarchy of feedback and how to navigate it wisely – knowing what’s valid for you now, vs. what to set aside for later.

Participate in new live critique sessions with KidLit illustration professionals every month!

Group critiques – in the classroom or around a cafe table with friends – have been training artists for centuries.

Be part of the conversation, starting today!

SubscribeFor monthly critiques, including the May 24 session with Nicole Tugeau

Only $8.95 monthly.

Improvement comes from consistent focus

Sometimes it will be your work being discussed. More often, someone else's.

Either way, you'll benefit by being there. You'll take away the insights to help you later — when it's just you behind the table making all those decisions, big and little required to complete a great picture.

You just need to watch and listen. And apply the ideas you like your way.

You don't have to go it alone...

With a subscription you can participate in all of our monthly live critique programs and immediately access replays of all the critiques we've enjoyed and learned from by these top professionals:

Click on the photos to see their websites!

Mira Reisberg

Mira Reisberg, author-illustrator, teacher and founder, Children's Book Academy

Karien Naude

Karien Naude, illustrator

Karien Naude

Chris Schechner, designer, illustrator and art director for 20+ years for "Pockets" magazine

Loraine Joyner

Loraine Joyner, senior art director for 23 years with Peachtree Publishers

Author-illustrator Jeff Crosby

Jeff Crosby, author-illustrator

Marsha Riti

Marsha Riti, illustrator

Christy Stallop

Christy Stallop, illustrator

ustyme books art manager Nick Balian with the cover of his

Nick Balian, illustrator animator, art manager for digital publisher ustyme Books


Nicole Tugeau, agent and artists' rep, Tugeau2 Children's Illustrators

C.S. Jennings

C.S. Jennings, author-illustrator

Annette Simon

Annette Simon, author-illustrator

Mark Mitchell, http://HowToBeAChildrensBookIllustrator.com

Mark Mitchell, author-illustrator and moderator

Denise Fleming

Denise Fleming, award-winning author-illustrator

Wendy Martin, author-illustrator and teacher

Wendy Martin, author-illustrator and teacher

Mary Sullivan

Mary Sullivan, award-winning author-illustrator

Jodell Sadler and KidLit College

Jodell Sadler, founder KidLit College and agent


Kelly Sonnack, senior agent, Andrea Brown Literary Agency

It's a bit like art school...

But for $8.95 per month.

Start Now

We'll keep it real by limiting enrollment.

Secure your spot at the table while it's available.

30 Day Money Back Guarantee!

Try out the subscription and see what you think of the next Marks and Splashes Guest Group Critique session. If you find it not hugely helpful or just not your cup of tea, write me (c/o the How To Be A Children’s Book Illustrator blog) and I’ll refund you same day, no questions asked, no worries and we’re still friends. Your replays of all of last year’s Guest Critiques are on us, until then.

Also, remember that you can easily cancel your subscription anytime through PayPal (or write me, c/o the blog and I’ll help with that — Mark M.)