Month: September 2013


Jillian Phillips @ Target with très parfaite wall art!

Imagine my surprise (while pushing a shopping cart overloaded with my teenage son’s back-to-school supplies) to turn the housewares corner in Target and … Qu’est-ce que c’est? I see this FANTASTIC piece from our very own, Jillian! I’m so proud each and every time I see our artists’ work out in public! Keep an eye out and let me know what you spot! – Jennifer


Revealing the Finalists for the 2013 Global Talent Search!


What a journey this has been! Over 1500 entrants joined us from more than 30 countries worldwide for our first round, and then 50 semi-finalists battled it out to win one of six coveted spots in the Final. You can find out more about what was involved at each stage of the competition here.

Today we are thrilled to reveal the six Finalists, knowing that one of these artists’ careers is about to change for ever. Five were chosen by our panel of industry experts, and one was chosen via public vote. The overall competition winner will be represented by Lilla Rogers Studio for two years, and win a host of licensing deals from prestigious companies (see here for details). The assignment was to create a Farmer’s Market Tote Bag with an autumnal theme.

So without further ado, here are our six finalists (in no particular order), along with some of the judges‘ feedback about their work:


Judges’ comments about Emily’s entry included:

  • I’ve never seen a pumpkin strapped to a bike rack before, so…..Emily’s brilliant.
  • I love the title: it’s a simple, strong written idea, and the axis for a sweet, soulful, fun piece of art.
  • Retro but not too much so; has roots in the past but is still totally original.
  • This is a great composition. The style feels fresh and original. There is something truly happy and carefree about the design. It really evokes emotion, and sends a very clear message. The palette is simple, yet very effective. I love the graphic quality of the illustration, combined with the decorative lettering.
  • The way she rendered the presentation makes it look like a real tote bag I could see living happily in stores this fall.



Judges’ comments about Zoe’s entry included:

  • Scrumptious color…love the whimsical flavor.
  • This is a fun and contemporary “up-do” to color for fall.  I like the playfulness of the images and their arrangement.
  • The type is fun and the whole composition hangs together well.  I like the contrast in line quality of the illustrations and just the general warm, cozy – yet modern feel.
  • Love the colors on this one! That pink/coral color is beautiful paired with the brown and pops of orange and turquoise.
  • All of her elements are executed really well with gorgeous detail.



Judges’ comments about Daniel’s entry included:

  • Daniel has a sweet approach and a great range. His characters, people and animals alike, are fabulous and cute and funny.
  • Amazingly cute and whimsical design with a hint of nostalgia for vintage kids illustration.
  • Love Love Love. Just a big happy tree and all its friends. From musicians to fellows with a wheel barrow (ending the action in the lower right corner. Great sign-off).
  • Clever. And incredible facial expressions. I want to visit here.
  • Cute vintage-y characters in a scene that doesn’t feel busy but incorporates nice details (facial expressions, interactions between characters).


Judges’ comments about Lizzie’s entry included:

  • Beautiful color sense. I love the line quality of her work, and she has a really great eye. I liked how there were multiple layers to her design, as I looked at it I kept being drawn in and saw more. The subject was not so literal, but a bit inspirational and unexpected.
  • This is just so charming in its contemporary, naive style reminiscent of Lois Lenski. My eye wants to move around and discover all of the little surprises in the illustration. It is very sweet, but very modern.
  • Fantastic use of geometrics which have been brought subtly into the design. This and the great typography shows the designer is very aware trends.
  • Really love this palette. Feels Earthy and green, gives you the warm fuzzy feeling of Fall. She has a great illustration style, love her characters and icons.
  • She needs to be hired by the universe to make some new flowers. The shapes and ideas are delightful.




Judges’ comments about Josephine’s entry included:

  • I just love this. It’s just plain old gorgeous. It’s very refined, lush, and powerful. She uses great attention-getting colors. It’s grown up and sophisticated, yet fun and playful.
  • There is beautiful detail in every element. It feels polished, and complete. Nothing is unfinished or rough. Your eye moves easily from one thing to the next, with lovely stops everywhere you look. FAB.
  • I like her use of color and the style of the flowers and composition. It has a good energy to it that is playful yet not juvenile, and would appeal to a range of ages.
  • Great use of color and the tote has a fashionable flavor.
  • This piece is thought out in every aspect. The colors feel like Fall, but modern, young, hip Fall. Not too traditional. Love the play on words “It’s for gathering”.


Vesper was the clear winner of the public vote (over 10,000 votes cast!) and goes through to the final as ‘The People’s Choice’.


Judges’ feedback

We asked the judges “Overall what made your top 5 stand out from the crowd?” This is what they said:

  • I think they’re all really strong illustrators with a keen sense of design and an attention to craft and detail. They stood out amongst the awesome entries and gave me a little charge when I saw each of them. I think they all have their own voice and incredible skills to back up that voice.
  • Great use of the theme. Simple and timeless design elements. Thoughtful consideration of the execution and how the illustration will sit on the tote.
  • Illustration style, color palette, composition, cleverness, thoughtfulness of how to make this concept their own.
  • Unique approaches with clear personality and imagination that shows!
  • They aren’t just decorating, they’re supporting clear concepts, and often with a strong use of text.
  • They have a strong visual ground; the ideas have a focus and scale that works on a bag often seen from a distance.
  • They know how to make characters you can empathize with.
  • The designs I chose were fashionable (on trend), looked hard to do (not easily replicated by anyone who knows how to use Illustrator), they had their own sense of style (a way of drawing that runs through their whole body of work), and were joyful to look at (meaning people will feel happy when they see it)
  • My top 5 were chosen because of their overall sense of style and design color, and typography. All had an interesting, eye-catching, unexpected take in their work and for me that made my choices. I looked at details and techniques. I felt that each of these artists would be very sale-able, and a designer that could tackle a project.


We also asked them “What general advice would you give to those who didn’t make your top 5 about how to make their work more commercially viable?” Here’s their advice:

  • Try to make your work stand out from what is in the market already.
  • When you have a challenge like this, give us a fresh, surprising solution.
  • Think about the overall composition.
  • Get words involved; they’re the secret weapon of great illustration. Or, create a picture that shows a little “narrative nano-second” – a moment that has sense of timing. It’s better than a scene that is just standing still.
  • Simplify. Don’t make it too busy for something like a tote bag. This particular assignment naturally called for a strong central image.
  • Consider what people want to carry around every day. Totes are meant to be fun, simple and functional additions to your wardrobe and everyday life.
  • Remember your audience’s age. Is a market bag used by a teenager or an adult? What style would most appeal to your client’s customer?
  • Think about what would appeal to a wide range of people – don’t indulge in eccentricity too much. Be quirky if the brief allows and have your own ideas – but also think whether it would appeal to the mass market.
  • Put a LOT of effort in
  • Truly challenge yourself to be unique in style – not a version of other popular illustrators or styles. Use your imagination to create a unique way of showing an idea or telling a story.
  • Ask yourself what makes your design stand out…and be able to articulate it.  If you can’t, then you haven’t challenged yourself enough.



Congratulations to everyone! We are thrilled that our judging panel, comprising some of the top art directors and creative professionals in the industry, selected a set of Finalists which includes FOUR graduates of Make Art That Sells. It was clear that the course helped them develop commercially-viable art, choose amazing colors and present it professionally. We cannot wait to see the work that comes out of the next class (beginning October 7 2013!)


Huge thanks to everyone who entered the competition, and especially to the 50 semi-finalists who put so much time, energy and love into their submissions. We are sorry that you cannot all be in the Final, but hope you have enjoyed taking part, and that the exposure has been valuable to you. We would also like to thank everyone who voted, and all our judges who took so much care selecting their choices and sharing their thoughts.

What happens now?

The Finalists will be sent their third and final assignment later today by email. They will be asked to submit their entry by Monday 23 September, and in the meantime will have a 1-1 Skype call with Lilla so they can find out more about each other. After that Lilla and her team of agents will select the winner, who will be announced here on the blog on Thursday 3 October 2013. And then a whole new phase of their art career will begin…


Reflecting on the Global Talent Search so far…

Several great things are happening with our Global Talent Search and I want to share them with you, before we reveal our Finalists later today.

Lots of artists – the 50 semifinalists – are receiving amazing exposure to top industry leaders – our panel of judges – who often MAKE careers. Our judging panel includes people like Ingrid Liss of Demdaco, manufacturers of Kelly Rae Roberts’ gorgeous licensed products, to Marie Perkins, author of the highly regarded Print and Pattern blog. Beth Kempton, my producer, and I have brought these judges together to view the work of the 50 semi finalists and to thoughtfully select the top 5 finalists, looking for quality, originality, and marketability. In many cases, they even viewed the websites of the artists. It’s probably safe to say that many of these artists may never have gotten that kind of exposure without this competition, and we are thrilled for them.

I am reminded of the American Illustration Annual, in the 1980’s, was then the brand-new, revolutionary juried book, and with its team of incredible judges, brought together and provided exposure to so many brilliant knowns and unknowns. (I am grateful that it helped to give ME a start).

Competitions are a powerful tool for showcasing top and new talent – just look at like the Grammys, Oscars, and Tonys.

It’s pretty awesome.

It’s also hard that not everyone can win, but everyone knows that when they enter, and I just hope that the experience, the exposure, the excitement and the focus are all beneficial for everyone who has taken part.

As for my agency, Lilla Rogers Studio, we get a brand-new fabulous artist to represent and our industry is uplifted and energized by exposure to much great talent. And hopefully a lot more gifted artists get the exposure and work that they deserve. That has to be a good thing.

Ps. A personal benefit is that I was fortunate to work closely with the brilliant Margo Tantau, VP of Creative at Midwest CBK, to create the final challenge and I must say, it’s pretty awesome! Margo gets her dibs on the winner (my next artist!) and together they get to create a branded line of stunning products for her company. Win-win-win.


Jon Cannell – Parent’s Choice Award Winner

We are so proud of our Jon! Once again – he has knocked it out of the park (and the pantry), with his latest Parent’s Choice winner, Mother & Son Kitchen Book Club: Stories and Recipes for Hungry Minds This is a GREAT book about cooking with boys. Chock full of recipes and sweet illustrations for Mothers and Sons to devour. And, heh – the design isn’t half bad either ; )! – Jennifer (Full Disclosure: I am the book designer!)

The award is here. The book is available here.


Who will be our next artist? Vote!

Dear Everyone,

Running a creative business is exhilarating! The opportunities for connecting with other like-minded peeps is astounding. The possibilities in business have never been more abundant. I reflect upon the old days when I was in NYC in the 80’s and you had to schlep your portfolio around to clients. (Although it was wonderful to see the inside of companies like Vogue, the New York Times, Bloomingdale’s, giant ad agencies, etc.)

A year or so ago, Beth Kempton, my brilliant producer of our e-course, Make Art That Sells, and I chatted about our ideas for working together. I said, “Beth, I have a crazy idea: a competition for artists with a series of challenges, and the winner would win representation with our Studio.” She gasped and said that she had had the same idea.

Here it is, happening to a great deal of buzz and we are loving it!

We’re in the midst of the 2nd Challenge, where the 50 semi-finalists have created a farmer’s market tote bag with an autumn theme. Now, our stellar team of judges are in the middle of selecting their top 5 artists, and if you haven’t already, go ahead and vote for your top 5.
Which 5 tote bags would you buy? Anyone may vote, and it’s super-easy! The voting ends this Monday, September 9th (9am PST / 12 noon EST / 5pm GMT).

By voting, you are a)Having fun, and b)Showing support to those artists, and c)Letting us know what art you love!
Read more about it here.

Ps. Did you see the licenses that the winner gets? It’s outstanding! Their career will blast off from the get-go.


The Global Talent Search semi-finalists need your vote! Online gallery now open

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The 2013 Lilla Rogers Studio Global Talent Search has got the art industry buzzing! We had over 1500 participants from 30+ countries around the world, battling to win the prize of representation by Lilla Rogers Studio and a host of licensing deals. No wonder – this will be a life changing opportunity for the winner!

In the first round all participants designed a journal cover for Paperchase. These entries were narrowed down to 50 Semi Finalists, chosen by Lilla Rogers, and then those artists responded to a second assignment – a brief to design a Farmer’s market tote bag (Autumn/Fall theme) – with stunning results.

And now it is YOUR turn to have your say!


You can see all the semi-final work in our online gallery (open here now). You can vote for up to five pieces of work, with one vote per image per email. The artist with the most votes when the gallery closes at 9am PST / 12 noon EST / 5pm GMT on Sept 9 will go through to the Final as The People’s Choice. Our esteemed panel of judges will select a further 5 finalists.

The list of six finalists will be revealed on Lilla Rogers’ blog on Tuesday 10 September.

This is your opportunity to help change the trajectory of an artist’s career. Vote for the art you would love to see on products in the shops – vote for the art you love, and the art you would buy!



JOHN COULTER: Guest blogger discusses working with Anthology

Hi Lilla,

I recently had the pleasure of working with Anthology magazine’s amazing creative director, Meg Mateo Ilasco, on the Summer 2013 issue: “Home is where the Art is.” I was asked to do an illustrated map of Rio de Janiero.

This was a very gratifying job. I did copious amounts of research online for each neighborhood featured, in an effort to get the flavor of each one. I recently showed the map to a friend living in Rio, and he said, “Looks to have been done by somebody only with a native knowledge. Just showed my brother in law (native Carioca) and he was thoroughly impressed as well.”

Here are some of my preliminary sketches, lettering experiments, details and the final.

Obrigado, – John