4/08/2007

How I got into the community of publishing in Japan?

Today I attended to a SCBWI event, that was really informative and inspiring.
The speaker Desdemona McCannon gave a power point presentation, showed us how the students develop their works at the North Wales School of Art and Design. Another speaker Anders Suneson also did a lot of showing slides to introduce illustrators for children's books in Sweden, and his works.
I was amazed by both lectures! I can't write how I liked them.

After the event, as I was one of the volunteers, could talk with the guests and our members.
I think then I couldn't explain well about the situation of the illustrators of children's books in Japan, so I was thinking about it in the trains on my way back home. Am I in the community of the publishing field in Japan?
I say yes, but how I am?

One thing came up with me, that I am a baby-boomer.
Among my generation there are many talented people of about the same age, not only illustrators but writers, editors, and even publishers. Being the same age group means a lot to majority of Japanese folks. That fact make us easier networking.
Another thing which seems to be local, some experienced editors started bringing up young illustrators, regarding baby-boomers, maybe incidentally. For example, Atsuko Nishimura, Kana Nishimaki are successful illustrators of my generation. In addition they are offsprings of famous illustrators in the field, too.

On the other hand there's ways to do from the scratch.
Looking at a friend's success from a side of her, who's a offspring artist, I had difficulties to get into the field.
Then I started showing my works to some freelance editors.
They were more open minded and were interested in finding and supporting the new talents, better than some editors in old publishing houses.
I wasn't successful (didn't get jobs) with this effort at that time,
but I was happy getting encouragements by meeting them.

In a while, anyway I got my first and second job, and I suddenly found another friend. When I visited one illustrator's show, I met her and became friends.
Knowing each other's work, that was all we need.

When I met an editor who showed a Japanese way of networking, I tried to get used to it, but it was too much for me. Say, joining networking parties. Japanese way is to meet some people several times in a short period, to know each other better. I liked the dinners and people, but going out frequently became a heavy part of my job. Especially I live in a suburb and it took more than 1 hour by trains to Tokyo.

Personally I think, if you have find a few good editors to work with, you don't need to be nor to belong to the community, but I highly recommend to exchange greeting cards (Don't forget hand-written notes!) with people you love in the field. That will help you being confident, and you'll feel warm when you work alone at home.
Actually I love people, so I do volunteers of a few groups and meet people there. I do that not to network but to meet people and learn from them. I often regard my friends as my teachers, and I want always to admire them.