Notes from the Executive Office
Debbie Lillick, Executive Director
One of the most rewarding, as well as most stressful, parts of my job is to contact an artist and convince this stranger to allow the NCCIL to exhibit their precious artwork. Usually the conversation starts with me, in a single breath, telling the startled listener what the NCCIL does and listing our impressive credentials that are the accumulation of 20 years of hard work. When I contacted James Ransome to ask him to be the spring exhibitor in 2017, I started with my usual spiel until he gently interrupted me. “I know who you are” he said. Wow! What an accomplishment for a place that started out as a vague idea in a small city over 20 years ago. I do not envy my predecessors who had to make cold calls and convince artists, often in New York City, of the legitimacy of our museum. To assure these celebrities that the NCCIL, an unknown entity in a never-before heard place out in West Texas, did know how to properly care for their illustrations and was passionate about making a place dedicated to showcasing this amazing form of art, was no small feat. I can imagine the skeptical responses and the persuasion it must have taken to gain their trust and confidence.
Since then, the NCCIL has made amazing friends in the children’s book world. Former exhibiting artists recommend or help connect us with new illustrators. Publishers and editors come to Abilene, not only to see exhibitions, but also to enjoy our legendary hospitality. From artists to publishers, from editors to art directors, the NCCIL has made an impression and impact. Now, 20 years later, artists can tell us “I know who you are.”