What is Icon

ICON brings together top illustrators, designers, educators, representatives, and art buyers to explore The Future of Illustration.


The national Illustration Conference, ICON, is committed to providing a forum for an ongoing dialogue that serves the illustration, design, publishing, advertising, and academic communities. Its purpose is to provide a platform for the most influential illustrators and industry leaders to address, in a timely manner, the most pervasive issues facing the profession. Illustration Conference (ICON) is a 501 C-6 nonprofit organization of illustrators and is an entity in itself. ICON remains the only national conference specifically for illustrators and the graphic arts community providing an unprecedented forum for the creativity, inspiration and drive that captivates the profession.


Since 1999, we have produced conferences in Santa Fe, Philadelphia, San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, Portland, and Providence. These Conferences have continued to probe and discuss the issues relevant to the field of illustration and design. They have examined specific topics such as copyright, product development, children’s books, promotion and contracts. The Conferences have maintained the standard of convening the industry’s best and brightest talent to present and talk about their work, their business, their lives and their passion for illustration. They have also grown to include inspiring, informative and topical main stage sessions and pre-conference tours and workshops.

View the ICON8: Portland website.


Esther Pearl Watson

Watson has an MFA from CalArts. Her largest painting to date is currently at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art. Her comic, Unlovable, is published in Bust Magazine and with Fantagraphics. Blood Lady Commandos, appears weekly on Vice online. She currently teaches at Art Center College of Design.

Melinda Beck
VP, Initiatives

Melinda Beck is an award winning illustrator, animator and graphic designer. For the past 25 years she has worked for many internationally renowned clients. She has received two Emmy nominations and a series of her prints was acquired by the Library of Congress for their permanent collection.

Mark Kaufman
VP, Communications

Put Mark Kaufman in a time machine. Set the controls for 1978. Ask him what he wants to do by 2016. He'll say he wants to be an award-winning designer and illustrator, and serve on the boards of AIGA Seattle and ICON. Set the controls for now. He'll tell you he's done all this and wants to do more.

Katherine Streeter

Katherine Streeter illustrates for clients around the globe. Her mixed media collages are her main focus for illustration, but her personal projects extend to making books and experimenting with moving images. Her clients include The New York Times, NPR, and Asset International, among others.

James Yang

Brooklyn based Illustrator James Yang has won over 250 awards for design and illustration including Best of Show for 3x3 in 2010. His work has appeared in Communication Arts, 3×3 Magazine, Graphis, HOW, Print’s Regional Design Annual, Step x Step and The Art Directors Club of New York annual.

Calef Brown
Bookstore Chair

Calef Brown is an illustrator, writer and educator. He has created book covers, posters, billboards, packaging, and character development for a wide range of clients. Calef has also written and illustrated a dozen award-winning picture books, including Flamingos on the Roof, a #1 NYT bestseller.

Martin Gee
Tech/Design co-Chair

By day, Martin Gee is a Senior Art Director at TIME and by night, he’s a freelance illustrator and cat whisperer. Against his parents’ wishes, he studied illustration and graphic design at San Jose State University where he fell in love with publication design.

Jason Holley
Stagecraft Chair

Holley is an illustrator, exhibiting artist and most recently, set designer. He is also an educator who has served on the faculty at ArtCenter College of Design for the past 20 years. He enjoys sad country music, and prefers pie over cake.

Rod Hunt
PR Chair

Rod Hunt is an award-winning London based Illustrator who has built a reputation for retro tinged Illustrations, detailed character filled landscapes & the artist behind the bestselling Top Gear Where's Stig? books. Rod is also the former Chairman of the UK Association of Illustrators

Rick Lovell
Education Chair

Rick Lovell is the Illustration Program Coordinator at the Atlanta campus of Savannah College of Art and Design. He was the Illustration Chair at Atlanta College of Art from 2002 until 2006. Clients include Delta, Simon and Schuster, Atlantic Monthly, Business Week, Doubleday, Showtime and Disney.

Julie Murphy
Workshop Chair

Julie Murphy lives in Chicago where she draws, paints, edits video and illustrates for clients. She studied film at Northwestern University and illustration at Art Center College of Design. In 2014, she experienced her first solo exhibition of drawings at the historic Water Tower.

Marc Scheff
Events and Logistics Chair

Brooklyn, New York-based Scheff was born and raised in Boston. He graduated from Harvard with a degree in computer science and went on to earn a BFA in illustration from The Academy of Art University. Scheff is a freelance illustrator, educator with SmArt School, and curator at Every Day Original.

Owen Smith
Programming Chair

Owen Smith-s clients include The New Yorker, Rolling Stone, The Atlantic, New York Times, Simon & Schuster, and Viking-Penguin Books. Smith designed public art for a Brooklyn Subway Station and a San Francisco Hospital. He is the Chair of the Illustration Program at California College of the Arts.

Len Small
Tech/Design co-Chair

Len Small is art director at Nautilus magazine (nautil.us). He previously served as art director for Tablet Magazine and co-designed the American Illustration 33 annual. He earned his MFA from the School of Visual Arts Design program and his BFA in Fine Arts from Washington University in St Louis.

Hellen Jo
Roadshow Advisor

Hellen Jo is an illustrator and cartoonist living in Los Angeles. She is best known for her coming-of-age comic, "JIN & JAM", as well as her girl gang watercolors. Her television work includes storyboards and design for Stone Quackers, Steven Universe, and Regular Show. Visit her at helllllen.org

Adam McCauley
Advocacy co-Advisor

Adam McCauley's illustrations have appeared in magazines, books, collateral and campaigns world wide and his work has been included in group shows in New York, San Francisco, Osaka, London, Los Angeles, Tokyo and Nashville. He currently teaches illustration at California College of the Arts.

    Board Advisors
  • Hellen Jo, Roadshow Advisor
  • Wendy MacNaughton, Advocacy Advisor
  • Adam McCauley, Advocacy Advisor
  • Frieda Gossett, Bookstore
    Local Advisors
  • Michael Niblett, Professor Communication Design, Director, School of Art & Design, Texas State University
  • Claudia Roeschmann, Coordinator for Communication Design, School of Art & Design, Texas State University
  • Diana Berno, idea21
  • Tom Berno, Texas State University, idea21
  • Shelley Jackson, SCBWI Austin Chapter
  • Jeff Crosby, Texas State University
  • Bart Kibbe, Industry Print Shop
  • Geoff Peveto, The Decoder Ring, Frank
  • Bruce and Julie Webb, Webb Gallery
  • Mariya Prytula
  • Mark Heflin, Executive Director
  • Thyra Hartshorn, Stage Manager
  • Shannon Davis, Office Manager
  • Kristen Heinzinger, Copy Editor
    Mentorees and Assistants
  • Christina Dacanay
  • Peter DuCharme
  • Eron Hare
  • Odera Igbokwe
  • Alex Mather
  • Victo Ngai
  • Vinnie Neuberg
  • Paul Windle