Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Illustrator Mentors

2020/2021 Illustrator Mentors

Use this list to determine which mentor will be the best fit for you, but also check out each illustrator’s website to learn more about them and view their portfolios!

Heather Brockman Lee

Heather has a BA in Fine Art and is represented by Deborah Warren at East West Literary Agency and is the grand prize winner of the Letters and Lines 2020 Portfolio Showcase. Her recent career accomplishments include work in both Babybug and Ladybug magazines, winning the May 2020 SCBWI Draw This contest and illustrating her debut picture book with The Innovation Press, 2022. As Assistant Illustrator Coordinator to the RMC region, she is eager to help other artists reach their next career goal.

Who should apply to me? Any artist who is working toward developing and/or refining their portfolio with the goal of getting noticed in the vast field of Children’s illustration. I can help guide you through basic illustration principles, finding your voice, promoting your work through social media and preparing you for the agent querying process and for showing your portfolio to art directors and editors.

Process: Monthly zoom calls and bi-weekly email check-ins. Our initial meeting will include reviewing your current work as well as looking at illustrators whose styles and careers you admire, and discussing your goals. Together we will choose exercises to improve the areas you want to focus on, set short and long term goals, and work through revisions to refine your style and voice as an illustrator.

A little more about me: I love spending time with my family, my garden, my dog, and jogging or biking around the foothills near my house. After working in a variety of creative industries in the world of high-end residential design and fine art, I turned my focus to children’s illustration and could not be happier with that choice. I recently started working with a licensing agent (in addition to my literary agent) to expand my career path to surface design. I think about art probably 90% of the time so I love taking about process, composition, palette and everything else to do with our creative field, and I look forward to working with you!

Dow Phumiruk

Dow is an author and illustrator of children’s books with over a dozen titles published or in progress. She joined SCBWI in 2011 and credits all of her success in the industry to this organization. She serves as co-Regional Advisor for the Rocky Mountain Chapter. Dow’s work is created with pencil sketches and finished digitally with scanned traditional textures. Dow enjoys teaching and cheering aspiring picture book illustrators along on their journey. She is optimistic to a fault but will be honest with feedback for the end goal of improving your craft. When she is not creating or teaching medical students, she hikes to clear her mind and connect with nature for inspiration. Dow is represented by East West Literary Agency. Publishing clients include HarperCollins, Henry Holt/Macmillan, Hachette Book Group, Abrams, Viking Children’s, Sleeping Bear Press, and more.

The schedule will include Zoom sessions monthly and contact by email as needed in between. Goals for mentorship will be set at the beginning of the program and can be geared towards one big accomplishment (such a completion of a dummy or portfolio) or multiple smaller goals (learning about different aspects of picture book creation and the industry). Picture books only.

Karen “Kaz” Windness

Kaz is a PAL (Published and Listed) writer and illustrator creating sweet and subversive stories with unique characters for kids of all ages. Kaz studied children’s book illustration at the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design (RMCAD) where she was a valedictorian graduate in 2002. A proud SCBWI member for over seventeen years, Kaz gives back as the Rocky Mountain Chapter Illustrator Coordinator (2009-present). She is passionate about helping others succeed and believes education is key. She teaches illustration at RMCAD and is an RMC-SCBWI illustrator mentor. Kaz is obsessed with waffles and all things spooky. She loves working in acrylic, collage, pencil, and Photoshop. There’s not much she won’t turn into an art supply. Kaz is represented by Tim Travaglini at Transatlantic Agency Her most recent book, “Mother Goth Rhymes” (Hermes Press) released in August 2019. IF UR STABBY is set to release in July of 2021, and SWIM, JIM! comes out from Simon & Schuster Summer 2022.

Who should apply to me? Everyone! I’m adept at working with both new and experienced illustrators. I’m a writer and can assist kidlit creatives who do both. I’m also a professional intuitive coach and counselor and am happy to offer those skills upon request.

Process: We’ll schedule a meeting, look over your portfolio and/or book dummies as well as your web/social media presence, and discuss and prioritize your art and career goals and focus on one major project. You will be asked to commit to S.M.A.R.T. goals for the duration of the mentorship and I will help and push you to achieve these goals, as well as provide tools and encouragement for your future endeavors. We will meet in-person or via Zoom at the beginning, middle, and end of our mentorship, and have weekly email check-ins, usually on Friday.

Successes! My mentees have:

– Created their first kidlit portfolio

– Written, edited, designed, and illustrated a submission-worthy picture book dummy

– Designed branding for their illustration business

– Developed promotional materials and created a mail-out list and marketing plan

– Created new illustration work that took first prize in the SCBWI Bologna Book Fair Gallery

– Experienced life and career breakthroughs

– Found a supportive community and a sense of creative wellness

Stan Yan

Stan is a Denver-based writer/illustrator, caricature artist and instructor. Stan has spent most of his life creating comic strips, comic books and graphic novels, although he only started to promote them at Comic-Con in 2001 and pursue his art career  full time in 2005. He started teaching comic art in 2007 via kids Summer camps, helped to develop and teach a Graphic Storytelling degree program at the Community College of Aurora in 2009, has been providing mentorships through his Patreon page since 2017, and has been teaching sequential art in the Illustration program at the Rocky Mountain College of Art & Design (RMCAD) since 2020. His recent credits include comics for Denver Comix and the Westword, writing and art for Vincent Price Presents (BlueWater Productions / Storm Comics), and writing and art for There’s a Zombie in the Basement (Squid Works Kids). Stan is represented by Peter Ryan from Stimola Literary Studio

Who should apply to me? Although my muse has been graphic novels and comics since I was old enough to hold a pencil, you don’t have to be a graphic novelist to benefit from my decades of illustration and storytelling experience. Any illustrator or author/illustrator, especially one trying to figure out process would be an ideal candidate for having me as a mentor (I’m a 10 time 24 hour comic day challenge veteran).

Process: After an initial review of your portfolio and/or work-in-progress and reviewing your personal career and mentor ship goals, I can convene monthly personal or video conference meetings (need not be in the Denver-metro area) to provide tips, recommendations, live demos, and evaluate mentee progress toward these goals. My typical SCBWI mentorship involves meeting with the mentee monthly (via video conferencing or phone), with periodic project or assignment assistance via email between meetings.