Lisze Bechtold is an animator as well as an author & illustrator of picture books and early readers. Her published works include Edna’s Tale, Sally and the Purple Socks (a Children’s Choice and Imagination Library book), and the award-winning Buster the Very Shy Dog series. She has taught workshops, reviewed portfolios, and studied writing with such luminaries as Myra Cohn Livingston and Patricia Lee Gauch. A long-time member and volunteer for the SCBWI, she’s co-coordinated several SCBWI Illustrator Days, sits on the L.A. Regional Board, and has quite a few ideas and events in mind for our region’s illustrators and author/illustrators. “What ideas and events?” you ask? We wondered that too, along with a few other questions you didn’t even know you wanted to ask. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with this installment of “Volunteer Spotlight.”
SARAH PARKER-LEE: Just in case anyone out there has avoided approaching you at events or something because of this, before we go any further, how do you pronounce your name?
LISZE BECHTOLD: “Liz” or “Lizzie”, if you need to pronounce all the extra letters.
SPL: Phew! We haven’t been saying it incorrectly! (Introverts worst nightmare.) With that out of the way… You’ve been an SCBWI volunteer for a long time, off and on, why did you recently take up the mantle of Illustrator Coordinator?
LB: I had too much fun coordinating the illustrator contests at the 2016 Writer/Illustrator Day and realized as an author AND illustrator, I have specific insight into the different needs and interests of each. I love connecting people who should meet, as well as the detective part of helping other artists — pointing out their strengths and the direction they are already taking that perhaps they themselves may not have noticed.
SPL: As an experienced illustrator and author, what types of workshops, exercises, or tools have helped you?
LB: Any workshop where you can get feedback on your own work is helpful. My rule is: Listen to everyone, (sometimes with your tongue gripped between your teeth) but then do what feels right to you. Sometimes it’s hard to choose between a writing or illustrating workshop when both are offered at the same time, so I try to focus on where I feel I could improve most. The annoying yet wonderful thing about writing or illustrating is that you can always improve. I also advise that when you come across an exceptional instructor, do not drag your feet in signing up for their class or workshop. You never know when they will stop teaching.
SPL: In 2017 you spearheaded Picture Book Dummy Day. What sorts of events, contests, and ideas are in the works for this year?
LB: Another Dummy Day for sure, in October. I would like that to be an annual event, because we should always be working on a new book dummy. Also, just announced is a banner contest for our illustrators — a great opportunity to be seen over an extended period of time. We are discussing a sketch crawl, “find your media” workshop, “keeping the life of the sketch in the finish,” and of course planning the 2019 Los Angeles Illustrators Day. The Los Angeles region alternates big illustrator events with our sister region, CenCal, since we seem to draw from the same pool of illustrator attendees. I would love someday to do another Working Illustrator Retreat.
SPL: If members have questions or ideas about future illustrator events, how can they share them with you?
LB: Email me! I welcome any ideas you have or speakers you recommend.
(Editor’s Note: And don’t forget to check out the SCBWI-L.A. Events Page to stay up to date on currently scheduled events.)
SPL: And one more for fun! Who is your favorite volunteer from a book, TV show, or movie and why?
LB: Well, I can’t think of one. But I love watching Project Runway — to observe the creative process within different (and sometimes bizarre) limitations, and Tim Gunn’s charming critiques of works-in-progress that addresses each designer’s particular vision. He is so thoughtful, respectful, yet honest.
Thanks for all your hard work Lisze!
Lisze lives in Pasadena, CA with her husband, three sons, and assorted pets. To learn more about her, check out her website: www.liszebechtold.com.
Have an idea for an event, volunteer position, or question? Leave it in the comments below!
You can learn more about volunteering with SCBWI, all the great perks it entails, and what positions are open from the links below. We need everything from graphic designers to LitMingle coordinators to event hosts. If you want to give back, we’ll find a place for you!
SoCal Region (email for info)
For more fantastic content, community, events, and other professional development opportunities, become a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators today! Not sure if there is a chapter in your area? Check here.
Sarah Parker-Lee is a Los Angeles Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators board member & the Managing Editor of Kite Tales, a book reviewer for Dwarf+Giant, a content creator for non-profits fighting injustice all over the interwebs, & is available to edit your writerly endeavors. She writes YA alt. history, sci-fi, & is the creator of Dogs & Zombies: Dog’s Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse. Twitterings: @SarahSoNovel, @DogsAndZombies
Images and illustrations provided by Lisze Bechtold.