Month: October 2014


How to up your game as an artist

One of the questions Lilla gets asked most frequently is “Which of your artists gets the most work?” Want to know her answer? Watch this:

The key is in upping your game. If you want to do that, and learn how to make your art more commercially viable while staying true to yourself then join us for Make Art That Sells, starting October 20. Just a few spots left – register here!


Q&A with Lilla – Home Decor (pt 2)

question of the dayWALL

Our ‘Q&A with Lilla’ series is back! This is where we share questions from the previous class of Make Art That Sells. You can see what a wide variety of topics are covered – and you might even find the answer to that burning question you have been wanting to ask! This is part 2 of our questions from the Home Decor week in class. You can see part 1 here.


Q: Is it better to focus your energy on trying to get an agent, or on approaching companies directly?

A: Do both at the same time. It’s the same kind of approach. Many eggs in many baskets. Plus, it can take years to get an agent, so you need to make money in the meantime and get better at your work in the interim.


Q: When a company offers you a percentage in royalties, is this usually a percentage of the retail price?

A: Wholesale.


Q: I have an agent for dinnerware in the US for nearly a year and a half. But she is a very small company and caters for “middle America”. I feel that I am dumbing my work down to try and license work, but in doing this, I am losing the joy of creating art, (hence doing this course!) and not selling. I’m not sure whether to take some time and develop my style, then look for a different agent? What would you advise?

A: Sounds like you know the answer. Life is a gift. Why not make it as special as you can and work hard to get what you want?


Q: What is the best way for a beginner to get most bang for the $275 Surtex entrance fee? My portfolio is slim still – could you share best strategies for attending my first Surtex?

A: Attend the lectures, walk the entire show plus the Stationery Show and International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF). Take notes. Look at what art is being displayed in the booths at Surtex. Check out agents (without disturbing them while they do their business).


Q: There is a potential opportunity to license my art to a napkin company. They offer artists flat fee US$500 / per design buying worldwide outright for napkin. Is it a normal for napkin companies not to offer royalty? Does $500 sound like a reasonable price?

A: Sounds like it’s a boutique company, and yes, that could be right. If you sell well, over time, you can ask for more. Napkins are a very small market, so that’s why the fee is what it is.


Q: I have found that it is equally difficult to get licensing contracts in home décor whether or not you are represented by an agent (compared to licensing for stationery etc). You are doing very successful in this area, do you have tips to share with us?

A: Time and hard work! Make great art! Keep taking MATS!


Q: Did you have an agent when you were working as a full time illustrator? If not, did you have to exhibit at Surtex (assuming they were already around!) and other trade shows, buy trend reports and all as a solo artist?

A: When I was an editorial illustrator, I first was on my own, and then over time I had an agent in NYC, Paris, and Tokyo. We weren’t doing Surtex back then. Back to your question, I would exhibit at Surtex WHEN YOUR WORK IS READY. Don’t buy trend reports—too expensive. It is important to me that I give you trend in MATS.  Also, look, look, look everywhere for trend.


Q: If you can go back in time, would you prefer to have an agent so you could concentrate on creating art? Or would you do it all by yourself? Why?

A: Such a good question! My artists love representation for that very reason—they can focus on artmaking. But more than that, you are getting a business manager, an art advisor, legal advice, and a group of artists that you are connected to.


Q: Would you recommend a beginner to reach out and work with an agent, or would you recommend that they stay solo for a while and attempt to reach out to the various markets on their own?

A: It’s very difficult to get a great agent, so you may need to be on your own for a while. Not all agents are equal. Do your homework. Ask the artists they rep what they think. Check out their websites.  Who shouldn’t get a rep? Someone who likes complete control over every aspect of their business and thrives on the all aspects such as negotiation, managing rights and images, contracts, invoicing, promotion, web management, etc. I obviously love all this stuff, so I do it and hire great people to do it as my team.


Q: What is the percentage of time would you recommend an artist to do for marketing (contacting / emailing companies…etc) vs. the time to use for creating art?

A: As you go on in this course, a lot of this will become more clear. The short answer is 50/50. It’s really hard to say. You can have fun with marketing as much as you have fun with your art. You can make newsletters that are really creative and show what you’re working on. Great art gets jobs. You are in the right place to work on your art. There are lots of opportunities. It gets really exciting as you get more and more jobs. But be sure you have an income while your build up your creative business.


Q: For the home decor category, do we submit directly to Anthropologie / West Elm / Crate and Barrel…etc., or does everything go through an agent / design house they use regularly? Do the same rules apply, that we should submit (bother) them with new work every 1-2 months, or is there a different strategy that we should keep in mind?

A: You submit to them directly, absolutely. The strategy is the same. Rarely does one get Anthro, Crate or West Elm right off the bat, so do not be discouraged!


Q: You suggested that we submit new work to art directors every 1-2 months and include 3-5 jpgs of our very best work. I’ve never licensed any of my work before so I’m nervous about sending that first submission and wondering about the companies who say they prefer not to get unsolicited emails unless they are from artists they have already worked with in the past. So for submissions sent by post, what do you suggest? A new postcard every couple of months? And what about the verbiage of email and post submissions? I would think short and sweet since the art will pretty much speak for itself?

A: You are correct. The art speaks for itself. And you can always call and ask what their submission policies are. We will be interviewing an art director every week in MATS, and you’ll see that generally they want to get your submissions since, as I always say, clients NEED great art.


Q:  I only work traditionally. How much of a disadvantage will be as I look to the future in hopes of submitting work in hopes of ‘making art that sells.’

A: As you have seen, and will continue to see, in MATS, traditional media is fabulous and appropriate for every assignment. That being said, you want to be sure your STYLE and IMAGERY (subject matter) is something that can be sold. Is your style updated? Current? Appropriate for markets? I am confident that this is doable if you really want to do so. Hang in there!



Got your own questions for Lilla? Join us for the next round of Make Art That Sells. Class begins on Monday October 20.

Book your spot here!


Looking for a creative tribe? Find yours here…

Make Art That Sells graduate Ohn Mar Win’s video is absolutely adorable! In it she shares some of her work from class, and sends the sweetest thanks to her new tribe.

The community aspect of Make Art That Sells is AMAZING. People who have met through the course have gone on to become real life friends, staunch supporters of each others’ creative careers, and even shared booths at Surtex. What difference would a creative tribe make to you? Make Art That Sells starts on Monday 20 October. Join us and find yours. Book your place here!



Q&A with Lilla – Home Decor (pt 1)

question of the dayWALL

Our ‘Q&A with Lilla’ series is back! This is where we share questions from the previous class of Make Art That Sells. You can see what a wide variety of topics are covered – and you might even find the answer to that burning question you have been wanting to ask! Next up is the hot market of HOME DECOR, which is covered in Make Art That Sells (MATS) Part A.  There were so many great questions to share we have split this into two parts. Here’s the first part:


Q:: Do you have any suggestions for writing a good submission letter? Should you say different things for different markets? What if you’re resubmitting new ideas to a company that rejected you in the past? How many submissions/images should you include in a single email?

A: The good news is that the submission email letter is short and sweet. You simply show 3 – 5 lo res jpgs with a link to your site. You mention that you love x company (assuming you do), and that you’d love to work with them. If you have clients, mention them, or anything noteworthy. (“I just finished illustrating a book for blah blah which you can see here.{link})

You do not need to talk about your work, like “My style is whimsical and shows a love of trees”. We can see that. Make a plan to send out work on a regular basis. You mostly will not hear back unless interested, but we (agents and clients) do look at these emails, and we expect to see you again.


Q:. I’ve fallen deeply, madly in love with vintage tea towels. When designing a piece, I’ve always tended to think of repeating patterns for the bolt market. How can that translate for tea towel type designs? (which to me are more of a single illustration) If you design something that is more of a single tea towel-esque illustration, can you still market that to fabric companies when looking for representation?

A: You want to have a variety of pieces in your portfolio. You can’t anticipate what the manufacturer or agent is looking for, so just show lots of wonderfulness. I would say to have both repeats and non-repeats in your portfolio.


Q. Can you be on the payroll (receiving royalties) with multiple companies as long as you’re creating different work for each?

A: Yes.


Q: What does ‘scale’ refer to?

A: Scale is the size of the icons/motifs.


Q: One of the interviewed specialists advised us to review fabric sites. Why is that?

A: The reason to review fabric sites is to get a sense of what kinds of art they buy, and what is trending. Every market requires the artist to have savvy about what the vibe of the market is. (In fact, that is what MATS aims to do.) Checking out sites and fabric shops gives you savvy over time. You needn’t worry about how many collections they expect and so forth. Your concern is making pieces with plenty of well-drawn icons on themes that are marketable.


Q: When posting portfolio pieces on your website, is it industry standard to keep them a strict 8×10? I realized I designed my fabric print at 8×10, then left no room for putting any coordinates!

A: 8×10 is what I have all my artists do, because then the client can print out on a US Letter size paper. In the class Art Review you can see how to pop in coordinates.


Q: When you license artwork do you only get royalties or are there other payments or fees I should be asking for when negotiating a contract? FROM:

A: There are three ways: Flat one time fee, Royalty for each item sold, and Advance against royalty, which means you get an amount of money in advance and then a royalty, too. Guess what? No one way is necessarily better than another way. A nice fat flat fee paid up front can be better than small royalties that trickle in. However, if something sells well, then you like those quarterly royalties. Your client tends to have one or two ways of working, based on their accounting system. If they give you a choice, ask the art director which they think is better.


Q: When contacting a company with bolt fabric designs, how much should the designer bring? Is a proposal for one collection already interesting for a client? Or should I bring like 6 collections to show I am reliable in keeping work coming?

A: Six collections is better. They want to see that you are someone they can grow with, and are committed and have a body of work.


Q: Many of us with a creative job get told to have a portfolio that shows a variety, a range of styles and techniques to show clients everything that we can do. Does that apply to marketing yourself to licensing clients?

A: If you want to be a branded artist, known for your style, (which this course helps you do!), then you want to get good at your style. Out of that, you want to have a range of subject matter and market subjects, hence, the 10 markets of MATS. (There’s method to my madness!) If you work in-house, they may want you to have a range of styles and techniques. So the question becomes, which way speaks to you?


Q: When you submit samples to a company (or list them on your portfolio), are they supposed to be new, non-licensed patterns, or are you just submitting them to show your style and hopefully get the company to commission you for future patterns?

A: Let’s say you send an email or newsletter. You can always show any work. If it’s only new work, you can say so. “Here’s my latest work, available for licensing!” Note: Do NOT show work that you’ve just licensed and the product is not yet on the market. Wait until it’s on the market.


Q: If you carry a print on Spoonflower, how do fabric companies view that? Is that print now considered non-viable?

A: Believe it or not, fabric companies and agents check out Spoonflower to see artists. We look everywhere. The client may have you do something similar or related if they don’t want to print the same thing. My business motto is to abundance, not scarcity. What that means is that get your work out there. You can always make more pieces for clients.


Q: How important is it to have coordinate prints on your fabric swatches? Do they have a higher percentage of getting picked up then prints that don’t have coordinates listed with them?

A: Yes, it’s better.


Q: Will you cover rates and contract negotiation later in this course? I am always confused what and how to negotiate with my clients as every contract may have different condition. I have no idea how flexible they are in price, especially for big manufacturers. Or sometime small question like how many free sample products I should require on my contract?

A: More on negotiating in MATS B, Week 4, and my book I Just Like to Make Things. Feel free to chat with the art director and ask what they typically pay, or how they work. Allow yourself to be a beginner and be open to learn from your art directors. They are mostly a very nice breed. They’ll also tell you how many samples you can get. Of course, having an agent is great for this, too, because they have years of experience, and in fact, in our case, we’ve worked with hundreds of companies so we know who offers what, what is standard, and where we can and cannot push.


Got your own questions for Lilla? Join us for the next round of Make Art That Sells. Class begins on Monday October 20.

Book your spot here!


Q&A with Lilla – Bolt Fabric

question of the dayWALL

Our ‘Q&A with Lilla’ series is back! This is where we share questions from the previous class of Make Art That Sells (MATS). First up are questions from BOLT FABRIC week. If you want to know more, or ask burning questions of your own, sign up for class (Starts October 20)


Q) My question is about icons? What exactly IS an icon? I am assuming you mean the main image of an artwork that will be repeated as a pattern on fabric?

A) An icon is a little thing that is free-standing, such as the girl, keys, and trees in the red box above, as opposed to a whole scene like you might see in a children’s book where everything is touching. Icons can be moved around and are repeatable, so that’s really useful for projects.


Q) Your lesson talks about the need to have your icons small (2″ area) to grab attention on a bolt. When I paint an icon does it need to be to this scale or can I paint it larger and the manufacturer will adjust it down to suit?

A) The icons don’t necessarily need to be that small. Some fabric has large motifs. You just need to think about how a 2-3” area would read on the bolt edge. And yes, the manufacturer can reduce the art.


Q) I purchased a shower curtain with one of the designs featured, the owls by Suzy Ultman (love it by the way!) Did she receive royalties for the fabric and for the product, in this case, the shower curtain?

A) How cool! Yay! In a case like this, the manufacturer might pay a flat fee or a royalty and then they create the shower curtain.


Q) Is it OK to submit the same artwork to several fabric companies (or other potential clients) at the same time, or is there a rule about contacting one company at the time – and then waiting for a response before you send the same samples of art to the next company?

A) You can do it either way, no problem. It’s fine to submit to a few at once. Should you be so lucky as to get interest from two companies at once, you can mention that.


Q) I recently got very good feedback from Robert Kaufman, but they don’t have an opening for the theme. How do you know/predict what fabric companies are looking for?

A) Congrats! You can ask the company, you can take MATS where I am constantly giving you hot themes, and you can regularly view all the fabric sites and see what trends are. Trends can take time to get a feel for, however. Surtex and Printsource shows offer trend lectures.


Q) In the world of retail, holiday and Christmas decor is so huge. Is there an appropriate time to submit fabric that is geared towards this season or are companies shopping this theme all year?

A) Generally they are shopping for winter in the summer.


Q) When designing for Fall or Spring 2015 for example, what do you recommend as a good resource for color trends or just color palettes in general?

A) It’s very difficult for the independent artist to get that kind of inside information. The subscription fees to the various trend reports, which show seasonal color palettes and themes (subject matter), run in the many thousands of dollars. This is exactly why I chose to write Make Art That Sells and Bootcamp, as a way to get that information out there to independent artists. In addition to MATS classes, you can try, watch various sites, check out Pinterest, shop, and read catalogs.


Q) How do you find the right person to send your work to? I feel like this is a roadblock I’ve run into a lot. Many times I resort to sending out emails to the companies’ general email that never get responded to.

A) Try the Artists’ Market book or buy a subscription to to find art directors’ names. Conversely, you can call the company in question and ask who looks at art submissions.


Q) I want to understand the actual work flow of a working artist/illustrator, and wonder if that’s something that can be covered either via Q&A or in future class material! With your artists, do you ask them to create art similar to what we’ve been doing with the class(es), and offer them for license? Or do actual clients come to you with work, and you assign work to the artists based on who you think fits best for the job? Do multiple artists work on the same job initially, then the client picks the direction they like to go with and the job is awarded to the chosen artist?

A) I work one on one with artists to make pieces and I send my own trend reports to my artists. This is one of my favorite parts of the job. The lion’s share of the work however is clients coming to us to license existing work or to commission new work from a specific artist.


Q) Would you recommend your artists (and us) to stay off of selling their work on Society6, Spoonflower, Etsy…etc., if they want their work to be discovered and licensed? I read on your book that people discover talent via Etsy, but then I also think these companies probably wouldn’t want those designs because they are already in public.

A) I know for sure that clients troll these sites looking for new and exciting artists, so I would encourage it. My basic motto is to have fun with social media/print on demand sites/e-commerce and let the universe work its magic.


Q) You say that we should submit new work to art directors companies every 1-2 months. Say we created our homework this week and are happy with it, should we hold off on submitting, and create a few more pieces in our portfolio (with various subject matter), and then submit it to the companies? Would you say we should hold off of selling these designs on Spoonflower…etc. if we want to submit it?

A) Ok, great question. I want you to think of the promotional process as if you are sowing seeds in the garden. You are sprinkling seeds all around. Some take, some don’t. Some plants bear fruit. It’s a numbers game. The more the better. You are to send work on a regular basis, STARTING FROM WHERE YOU ARE NOW.  And you don’t need to hold off on selling on Spoonflower. If you get a license for that piece, you can pull it off Spoonflower. Think big and open and bountiful. Think of getting your work out there AS YOU GROW. Hope that helps. Great question that I’m sure others were wondering about.


Got your own questions for Lilla? Join us for the next round of Make Art That Sells. Class begins on Monday October 20.

Book your spot here!


Tjarda Borsboom shares some of her most important lessons from Make Art That Sells (cute video alert)

Make Art That Sells graduate Tjarda Borsboom shares some of the most important lessons she learnt in Make Art That Sells. Such a cute video!

What might you learn about making your work more commercially viable? Sign up and find out. It might be the most important investment you ever make in your art career. Make Art That Sells starts on Monday 20 October. Don’t miss out. Book your place here!



2014 Global Talent Search winners announced!

After three months, around 1000 entrants from 30+ countries, three rounds of competition, more than 10,000 public votes and many hours of deliberating, we are delighted to reveal the hugely talented winners of the 2014 Global Talent Search! It was so hard to choose from our outstanding six Finalists that we have decided to give THREE awards – the Grand Prize and two Special Studio Awards. Three art careers are about to change forever. Click on the video below to hear Lilla talking about who won and why, and scroll down to see their work!

(Note: In the video Lilla refers to MATS, her e-course Make Art That Sells, which starts on October 20. You can register here)


Grand Prize Winner:


Congratulations Tara! The finalists were asked to design for a home decor line with Midwest CBK. Here’s a glimpse of Tara’s winning work for the competition (we will be sharing more in the coming days):



It was clear that Tara already had the talent, and then Make Art That Sells helped her understand the market potential for her work, and present it beautifully.

Tara had impressed us in the Make Art That Sells e-course. Her work was frequently in the top reviews. Here’s what we loved: we adore her sophistication and charm, with an extraordinary color palette. Her background in graphic design takes her presentation that much further. Check out the “Page 1” and “Page 2” flags. It’s that attention to detail that wow’d us. If you look closely, you’ll see her almost tactile textures. The kitchen canisters are a perfect example of utilizing her art in a really marketable way. She is thinking like a product designer. For example, look at the pom-poms on that yellow cushion! And finally, we could easily envision her beautifully handling all of the GTS prizes.

We are thrilled to announce that Tara has won TWO YEARS’ INTERNATIONAL REPRESENTATION BY LILLA ROGERS STUDIO, with a host of licensing deals, professional development opportunities and international promotion and an all-expenses paid trip to England to participate in a major art event in June 2015! See the full list of incredible prizes here.

We are thrilled to welcome Tara into the studio fold and cannot wait to start working with her!

But there’s more – we were so blown away by the finalists’ work that we added another prize for TWO artists…

Special Studio Award Winner:


Here’s the winning work Rebecca created for the third and final round of the competition:



Rebecca’s art has a robust joyfulness with a big wow-factor. The use of dark backgrounds and bold lettering really pops on the screen. She gave so much. For example, each bird is different and well-designed. The grey coordinate is a lovely, sophisticated touch. Look how she took a photo of an interior (lower left) and mocked up the lamp and wall art piece so beautifully! We adored seeing what Rebecca came up with in the reviews each week in Make Art That Sells.


Special Studio Award Winner:


And here’s Flora’s gorgeous work from the final round:



We loved her style for her delicacy and very intimate quality. We loved the contrast of the grey watercolor silhouetted florals with the pen and ink hand-drawn line art. Reviewing her site and the work she had done for the e-course, we were impressed with her strong body of work that we are dying to get our hands on!

We are excited to announce that Rebecca and Flora have both won TWO YEARS’ INTERNATIONAL REPRESENTATION BY LILLA ROGERS STUDIO and a home decor or gift license with Midwest CBK! So our stable of talented artists just increased by three, and we couldn’t be more thrilled!

Like Tara, both Rebecca and Flora are also graduates of Make Art That Sells, and it shows. Congratulations to our three amazing winners.



If you are an Art Director… Want to talk to us about licensing or commissioning work with our newest artists? We’d love you to contact us. Hurry! These artists are going to get booked up fast. And of course we have all your favorite artists, too.

If you are an artist… Want to see your career skyrocket? We would strongly encourage you to consider joining the next round of Make Art That Sells (which starts on Monday 20 October). Even though the finalists were chosen independently by leading industry experts, and by the general public, all of them were graduates of Make Art That Sells, which just goes to show how the course really teaches artists how to up their game. We couldn’t be more proud.

If you want to learn how to make great art that sells in the top ten markets for art internationally, whilst staying true to yourself, there is no other course like this out there. There are still a few places left if you are quick – register here!




What do you learn in Make Art That Sells?

With this lovely sped-up collage video Make Art That Sells alumnus Wendy Brightbill shares what she learnt from the course:

What might you learn about making your work more commercially viable? Sign up and find out. It might be the most important investment you ever make in your art career. Make Art That Sells starts on Monday 20 October. Don’t miss out. Book your place here!



What happens when you take a risk with your art?

In this lovely 1-minute video Anne Bollman, graduate of our online course Make Art That Sells (MATS), shares how the course helped her take risks with her art, and why taking it paid off in many ways:

Ready to take some good risks with your art? Make Art That Sells starts on Monday 20 October. Don’t miss out. Book your place here!