Month: November 2013


Suzy Ultman – ’tis a Land of Nod Holiday Season

Last year, I was given the honor of bringing festive cheer to Land of Nod’s annual ornament and their website’s home page. In the mix, I was also given a holiday wall art project. It was a unique situation to be working on three very different projects for one client for one specific season. I knew this was an opportunity to have a lot of fun. Even though the three products would live separate lives, I wanted to connect them in some way. I wouldn’t have many chances to play like this… So, you’ll see that the “gifted girl” from the wall art has found her way onto the website’s home page. The watchful moon from the ornament keeps eye on the website’s sleepy town when the site changes into night mode.

Thank you to the fantastic folks at Land of Nod for this opportunity. Happy Holidays to All! Suzy








Zoe Ingram shares her MATS + GTS experience!

Hi Lilla,

I’m just popping in to share a little post GTS update. I thought It would be good to share a bit of my experience so far.

It’s been almost two months since the end of GTS and I think I’m finally getting my head around what just happened to me. The experience, I can only describe as a roller coaster ride. There was the thrill of starting work on a new brief and then the nervous wait after submitting and then the elation at hearing that I’d advanced to the next round. Three rounds of extreme and intense emotions but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Since the announcement back at the beginning of October, things have been full on, fast paced but thankfully Lilla, Susan, Jennifer and Julia have all been there helping me to get settled in. What an amazing team! There has been a lot for me to take in and digest and work through and now that MATS B has finished I was going to say that things have calmed down a little bit for me but actually, that’s not really true, it’s still full steam ahead with stage 2 of my book illustrations with Quarry, a fabric collection with Robert Kaufman, greetings cards with American Greetings and Printsource preparations all of which are dream jobs!

So what exactly have I been doing since the end of GTS? Well, lots of drawing that’s for sure! But I love drawing so it couldn’t get any better! I have also been working closely with Margo Tantau at Midwest CBK on my new line with them which I am crazy excited about and they are now working on the range and it will be going into production very, very soon.

I have also come to understand the importance and value of having a good support network in place and people to talk to in the sometimes solitary world of illustration and in particular, working from home. I make a point of going to my local library cafe at least once a week to sit and draw. The ladies who work there ask me about my work when they see me drawing which is lovely. Another great support network that I am very lucky to be part of is Forest Foundry collective, an amazing group of 7 other artists from all around the world. We keep each other motivated, inspired and support each other everyday.

I received a little email from Lilla the other day asking me if I can believe my life now and I promptly replied that no I couldn’t and would I ever? The whole experience from MATS A, to GTS, to MATS B has really, really been out of this world and has changed my life. I’m so grateful for the opportunity that Lilla & Beth have created for me. It was, without doubt, the best choice I ever made to do the course and GTS. I almost didn’t sign up for the course or the competition but had 20 seconds of insane courage and did it. It’s been the best and happiest time of my working life so far and I believe it’s only going to get better.

I think the moral of the story that I’m trying to get across here is that dreams really can and do come true. Don’t hold back, just do it, whatever “it” may be to you and with a little bit of hard work and determination who knows what might happen. I believe that a lot of what has come to me has done so because I have been open, willing to take a chance, using positive thinking and a lot of determination and hard work. If you’re thinking about doing MATS and GTS next time, go for it, you really have nothing to lose!

I don’t have much in the way of work that I can show yet as it’s all in development and a bit top secret but I can show you a couple of pieces from MATS B and the huge pile of sketchbooks that I have amassed in the past few months with a little peek inside! – Zoe






Allison Cole’s gigantic, one-of-a-kind plush creature for Land of Nod

Hi Jennifer!

I created an oversize plush for Land of Nod on display at their Schaumburg, Illinois pop up shop, Mr. Mountain. This year they are hosting an online contest – anyone can enter to win him here:
The contest ends December 12th…. so hurry up and enter! – Allison



Holiday ornaments worth celebrating!

Take a look at these Land of Nod gorgeous beauties from our very own hugely talented Jillian Phillips! Enjoy! – Jennifer



Sending help to the Phillipines

All of us at the Studio are filled with sadness for the victims of Typhoon Haiyan. Should you wish to consider contributing to American Red Cross to send food and supplies, here is the link. – Jennifer



GUEST BLOGGER: Daniel Roode (GTS winner)

Many life changing events have transpired in the past month, and I just want to share and honor my good fortune. Most of you know me as the Special Studio Award winner in the Lilla Rogers Global Talent Search and I need not alert you to the fact that Lilla and her team of agents are at the top of everything that is cool, modern, and groovy. I am now fortunate enough to be in the stable of amazing talent that they represent. It’s been a month now since I won a coveted spot and I still can only say “Holy smokes!”

When I heard about the GTS, I simply thought it would be a really great way to get the creative juices flowing. And for sheer lack of confidence, I almost didn’t even enter the contest. What a colossal mistake that would have been! I had also made a promise to myself that I would make a real concerted effort to get agented this year and gain some momentum on my career. But before I knew it the year was half over and I hadn’t made any attempts at representation at all, so I decided to bite the bullet and go for it through this contest. Great Daniel, try and get representation in the hardest way possible. :)

I loved the idea of the competition, you get a briefing from Lilla, have a two week period to create your submission and a small break in between to await the results to see if you qualified to the next round. I was enticed by the array of assignments that I would be presented that I would not have normally thought of doing myself. Creating a journal cover, designing art for a tote bag sold at a farmers market, and creating an entire line of home decor with almost no limitations. Such cool fun projects! After I’d entered a bit before the deadline, I eagerly awaited the first assignment.

Round 1 had us create journal cover with a vintage playground motif as if Paperchase was our client. I felt okay with my submission. I’d like to say that I slept soundly the day the semi-finalists were announced and woke up to the news bright eyed and bushy tailed but it was quite the opposite. I stayed up late, I couldn’t sleep. I hit the refresh button on Lilla’s blog like a caffeinated lab mouse. The anticipation was overwhelming. Finally the wait was over and I slowly scrolled through the list, my heart was racing, “This is the moment of truth” I thought, oh my god I think there’s been a mistake. I don’t see my name?! Oh it’s alphabetical, there’s still a chance! There I am!!! Holy Shit. I made it! Indeed it went down just like that. Warm joyful tears ran down my cheeks. Happy.


Round 2. Getting through that first round really helped me push through to the next and take on a challenge that, at the time and it seemed utterly impossible for me to create a fall tote bag to be sold at a farmers market. But this is partly why I signed up for this. To apply myself in a way that I normally wouldn’t think of. I’m mostly used to making work that appeals to the children’s market and this assignment had us creating something that would appeal to adults as well. Tricky. I had a vague idea of what I wanted to do and in the end it turned out to be close to what I thought I would make. And, as an aside, that’s what I love about creating art. You have an idea, you try actualizing it, and for better or worse you bend to where the pictures are telling you to go. With faith in this process in mind, I submitted my work, waited for the results, repeated the process above: barely sleep, refresh blog, scroll, thumping heart, … warm tears of joy rolling.

tote mockup

Round 3. Well if I felt daunted by the first two assignments this one really had me twisted. Design an entire line of home decor with almost no limitations on color or subject matter. We had to design exclusively for an adult audience and had to choose from one of a few categories. I chose the category called “weekend retreat”, which allowed for silvery, golden fallish and wintery hues and tones. At first I did a riff on Red riding hood that I was truly in love with but after my Skype session with Lilla and her A-Team of crack agents it was apparent that I had skewed to young. And as an attempt to age it up I had also inadvertently made my wolf scary. Oops! Not what I was going for. :) So I had to put my thinking cap on and turn around my work into something that was cohesive and line ready. A real ‘make it work’ moment as they say.



I hit submit on my final piece, said a prayer. Not a lot happened in between that I can remember. A couple of restless bland weeks had finally passed and before I knew it the moment of truth had arrived. I repeated ALL of the aforementioned rituals above but this time the stakes were higher and i was pulsing. I wanted to jump out of my eyeballs. Just to have gotten this far was a wild dream. All of the artists had submitted outstanding and mesmerizing work. Being here, with them, I felt validated. Realizing I had won a studio prize was like opening up that gift that you had asked for but never knew would be yours to open. And HERE I AM! I could have never expected this wild journey to have taken me here, but feel extremely grateful that I’m exactly where I need to be.

Thank you Lilla, Susan, Jennifer, Julia, Patty, and Margo and everyone who was rooting for me! – Daniel

Samples of Daniel’s GREAT work from the Make Art That Sells e-course:




Trina Dalziel dazzles me again @ Trader Joe’s!

Once again, shopping at Trader Joe’s this weekend and low-and-behold – there is Trina’s GORGEOUS anniversary card! Look closely at her amazing sense of color, her line and her exquisite design sensibility. I love this one so very much, I gave it to my husband for our anniversary, just last month! – Jennifer



Rachael Taylor’s lovely new lovelies (canvas bags)!

Hi Lilla! I have been updating lots of my products lately & adding to my shop. I thought you might like to see some of the gorgeous images taken by the fantastic duo navyblur. These are the newest additions to the canvas bag collection. You can get them from our online shop as well as other fun & colourful products! – Rachael


GUEST BLOGGER: Vesper Stamper – GTS People’s Choice finalist

Dear Lilla,

The Global Talent Search was one of the most amazing, tear-jerking and enriching events of my career. Allow me to share my experience with you!

I looked at the GTS as an opportunity to try something new and use the briefs to freshen up my portfolio. I had no expectations, and little did I know that I was in the running with over 1500 other artists!

For the Round 1 Journal Cover, I decided to go with my gut and draw fantasy characters in keeping with my love for fairy tale. So that was my twist on the “playground” theme—instead of bouncy horses and ducks, I went with bouncy unicorns and pegasus (Pegasi? Pegasuses? Ha ha).

I was so excited for Round 2—autumn is the season in which I truly come alive, so I went with my instinct on the Fall Market Tote. I’m so happy I did. It turned out that almost 700 people were vibe-ing with me on the tree dance. A bunch of people wrote to me and asked where they could buy my tote bag! It boosted my confidence to know that there was popular demand for my work.

The home decor assignment for the Finals was a dream project. I’m working on a graphic novel about the legend of the White Stag, so instead of reinventing the wheel, I decided to stay with what was already moving me. Through the home decor project, I have been inspired to try new techniques and new materials, including tailoring my embroidery and doll-making toward commercial work.

Contests are such an important part of an artist’s career, and it really has nothing to do with winning. I won a big grant this year for one of my books, but didn’t win the GTS — it really isn’t whether you win or lose. Contests serve to clarify vision, expose you to the greater artistic community (I’m so glad to know so many new artists and *hundreds* of new Facebook and Twitter fans!), get you out of your bubble, and push you to try new things.

This process has taught me the value of trusting my own individual voice and vision. Through all three rounds, I stuck to my instinct more intentionally than ever, and it paid off. I am so encouraged by my success in the GTS, and as I pursue the newly opened path in front of me, I could not be more excited and inspired. Thanks, Lilla and all the GTS artists, for helping to breathe new life into my process!



Ah, the weekend!

Just as I am logging off for the day – in my “inbox” drops this delight from Land of Nod. I just LOVE this company! A BIG YAY for Suzy Ultman + her amazing products at Land of Nod! Seemingly endless joy for each + every one of us! – Happy Weekending, Everyone – Jennifer