“Why would anybody want to go to Honesdale?” asked the immigration officer as we were crossing the Canadian/U.S. border. If you are an illustrator, you would have plenty of reasons. Not only is Honesdale, PA a very pretty town but it is also the home of the Highlight’s magazine offices. Every year, Highlights throw a weekend party for their illustrators, family and guests. I haven’t worked for the magazine yet but this year I was lucky to be invited as Paula’s guest.
Paula and I are are both members of Illustration for Kids and we were quite excited because for the first time, four out of the seven of us were going to hang out together for the weekend.(Myself, Paula Becker, Jannie Ho and Jenn Morris
It was a really fun road trip. Paula and I had plenty to chat about and there was lots of prettiness to photograph along the way
We arrived early Friday evening with just enough time to check into our room, freshen up a bit and take a quick wander down by the lake.
Then it was off to the barbecue at Boyd’s Mill where we would get to meet everyone for the first time. At this point I could feel butterflies in my tummy and was worried that I would get all shy and tongue tied. I am so used to working at home alone, that suddenly meeting a whole bunch of illustrators at once felt a little intimidating but exciting too. All shyness was forgotten when we got to meet Jannie again, and Jenn for the first time. The chatting began and we felt like old friends. I also got to meet Karen Lee who I have known a long time on the internet and it was so nice to meet her in person. And also Jennifer Thermes and Julie Fortenberry were there, which was a lovely surprise. We all became good buddies and hung out together for the rest of the weekend.
The next morning we had a bright and early start with breakfast, followed by a seminar for the illustrators. Members of Highlight’s staff formed a panel and talked about new publishing ventures and gave plenty of pointers and tips for all the different things they were looking for as to types of submission, artwork etc. It was very informative and entertaining.
Once the seminar was over, there was a portfolio sharing session. Illustrator’s laid out their portfolios on tables and everyone mingled and got to look at each others work. The standard of work was very high and I kept wavering from feeling inspired to feeling a little intimidated. I recognized quite a few artist’s work that I already admired and discovered a whole bunch of new inspiring ones such as:Barry Gott, Mike Moran, Jim Paillot, Mike DeSantis, Tamara Petrosino, David Leonard and David Galchutt to name but a few.
Karen Lee and Susan Miller having a very animated discussion about illustration
Liz Goulet Dubois Jannie took this picture and sadly, I didn’t get a proper chance to chat with Liz. Hopefully we will get a chance another time.
Photo by Jannie Ho
After the portfolio sharing, we took a break for lunch, then it was time for the costume party. Every year there is a theme and this year’s theme was: “That’s Silly!” People really made a big effort and the costumes were amazing.
After the costume party, there was another get together for a meal and a square dance. it was a lot of fun but we all wilted quite quickly after such a busy day.
Sunday was the last day. There was a brunch for everyone in the tent out at Boyd’s Mill and it was our last chance to meet up with everyone again before saying our goodbyes.
All the fun had to end sometime, so we headed off for our long drive back home to Montreal. We had some great memories to take with us. It was so nice to meet illustrators in person that I felt I already “knew” from the internet, and they were all just as lovely in reality and now feel like real friends. And also discovering so many artists that I did not previously know and getting to see their artwork in person. It was a wonderful experience.
And I think the question should be: “Why would anybody NOT want to go to Honesdale?”