Category: Make Art That Sells


Who will be our next represented artist? Announcing the 2018 GTS Finalists!

Announcing the 2018 GTS Finalists

The judges and the people have spoken! The competition was intense, with judges telling us that it was challenging to select a mere five artists from such an incredible pool of work.

We’re delighted to now reveal the 2018 Global Talent Search Finalists, chosen from the 50 Semi-Finalists (who were selected from over 1,200 artists’ work).

Five artists were chosen by our panel of VIP industry experts, and one was chosen by public vote (our People’s Choice Winner).

The overall competition winner will be represented by Lilla Rogers Studio and will be flown from their home city to our Artists and VIP Retreat in September!

Click here to view the Finalists!


Over 10,000 votes were cast by the public, and we can now reveal that the 2018 Global Talent Search People’s Choice Finalist is. See the People’s Choice Finalist here.

Read the next steps in the competition here.



Finalist 1 (The People’s Choice and Judge’s choice): Åsa Gilland, Sweden

MATS Student since 2014

The People’s Choice Finalist Åsa was also one of the five Finalists chosen by the judges. As per our rules, this allowed the judges’ sixth choice to also join the group of Finalists, and we are delighted with our top six, who will now take on one more assignment to try to win the title of Lilla Rogers Studio Global Talent Search Winner 2018.


Here’s what one of our GTS judges had to say about Åsa’s GTS submission:

‘I love her style – it is loose and organic yet detailed. Her people have personality and unique looks. I like that she did not format this piece in little blocks like so many others.’



Finalist 2: Jennifer Potter, San Francisco, California

MATS Student since 2017



Here’s what one of our GTS judges had to say about Jennifer’s GTS submission:

‘Jennifer Potter: great layout, smart inclusion of the hands, theme tied into every element, including the rope frames. Love the limited palette. In an instant, I knew this was about a few people, a boat, and was from the past. Great skills in scenes, people, and objects.’



Finalist 3: Kendra Binney, Portland, Oregon

MATS Student since 2014


Here’s what one of our GTS judges had to say about Kendra’s GTS submission:

‘Kendra Binney’s Birdsong was a standout. I loved it from first glance before I even began reading. The art is really striking and appealing and fresh, the color use is lovely, and the storytelling is superb.’



Finalist 4: Sarah Papworth, West Midlands, United Kingdom

MATS Student since 2015



Here’s what one of our GTS judges had to say about Sarah’s GTS submission:

‘Her journal took my breath away, and this assignment was amazing. The lettering. the tonal quality, the details, the story. But most of ALL, it’s her vast portfolio that has such differentiation within it. Her piece has style, finesse, variety, great lettering, and solid talent.’



Finalist 5: Anke Rega, Berlin, Germany

MATS Student since 2016



Here’s what one of our GTS judges had to say about Anke’s GTS submission:

‘The color palette is very appealing and the way she decorated the interior showed that she’s tapped into trends.’



Finalist 6: Julia Christians, The Harz Mountains, Germany

MATS Student since 2017



Here’s what one of our GTS judges had to say about Julia’s GTS submission:

‘I want to work with her! What else can I say? I like the energy in her work, the humour in her characters. She would work for picture books and middle-grade fiction.’



To all those that participated in the competition this year, a big giant THANK YOU for being a part of it!

Stay tuned to find out who will win the competition!

The 2018 Global Talent Search winner will be announced on on August 17th!


What happens when my artists take my class? See why I love these two.

Here’s what happens when my artists (many of whom are my e-course grads) take my course Assignment Bootcamp. This work was from the January assignment where I asked the students to draw what they imagine might be in the bag of one of 12 badass women. Then they were to turn it into a book cover. Just for fun, students got assigned their person to illustrate based on the student’s birthday month. (By the way, you can still get into this lively class for the next 4 months of assignments and other goodness, but registration closes tonight, so hurry!)

This is a very exciting new look for my artist Zoe Ingram. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Zoe do portraits quite like this so I was delighted to see her thoughtful rendering of Maira Kalman, the iconic illustrator.

Zoe Ingram

Katie Vernon

Follow us on Instagram for more fun.

Hope you enjoyed the show!
Don’t hesitate to contact us. We’d love to hear from you for any of your art needs.



Zoe’s home decor pitch for you

So when I take on an artist, they get to have free access to all my online courses at Make Art That Sells. It’s a great way that they can keep growing, learning, and making new work for us to show.
This is what happens when my artist Zoe Ingram, my very first Global Talent Search winner,took my home decor course recently. These are based on my trend boards that I provide in class.
Get a napkin ready because you are about to drool. And contact us to snap these designs up for your products. Many are still available. Or Zoe is happy to do commissions for you.

Hope you enjoyed the show. Lookin’ for some great art? Contact us to license, buy or commission art for your fabulous project. We are happy to help you!




Carolyn Gavin’s Home Decor Collection

It’s so rewarding to see our artists’ work come to life! Here’s our artist Carolyn Gavin’s gorgeous home decor line for TAG, Ltd.  She has such a masterful loose paint style and adorable quirky lettering. Carolyn created this delightful art in the Make Art That Sells: Creating Collections for Home Decor course.  Lilla co-teaches this class with esteemed colleague Creative Director Margo Tantau.
Artists: This is our LAST session we will be running live. This is your chance to get your work in front of a top art agent and creative director. Class starts today on Monday, August 7th. Don’t miss this opportunity! Sign up here.
Here’s the art board Carolyn designed in our Creating Collections for Home Decor class. We pitched it to TAG, Ltd. and they snapped it up:
Ta da! We’re crazy about this collection that TAG Ltd. created from Carolyn Gavin’s work from her presentation. In fact, that cup on the upper left is on Lilla’s desk holding her pencils.

Check out more terrific products Carolyn has with Anthropologie:

Art directors: See more of Carolyn’s gorgeous work here.
Join Lilla this Wednesday, August 9th at 1:30pm ET on the Make Art That Sells Facebook page to get help with your first class assignment.
Lookin’ for some great art? Contact us to license, buy or commission art for your fabulous project. We are happy to help you!


The Studio Ladies


See how Zoe uses an inky pen and quirky lettering in her art.

I’m delighted to show you our artist  Zoe Ingram’s fresh new Home Decor line for Creative Co-Op! This very cool collection was created in my Make Art That Sells Home Decor Course.  I love her fine inky line and charming lettering. It’s so rewarding to see our artists’ work come to life.

Art Board designed by Zoe Ingram in my Creating Collections for Home Decor class.

See more of Zoe’s work here.

photos by Creative Co-Op


The Studio Ladies


Get your mitts on new work by our artists! Check out these presentation boards.

Art directors: Get your mitts on this work for your amazing products! This is art that my artists did in my e-course Make Art That Sells: Creating Collections for Home Decor. I create 3 trend boards for each home decor course of what I think are the next trends. And the cool part is watching how these brilliant artists translate those trends into their own style, leading the way.

Trina Dalziel




Flora Waycott


Mara Penny


Mara Penny


Lookin’ for some great art? Contact us to license, buy or commission art for your fabulous project. We are happy to help you!

Katie Vernon’s Home Decor Collection with Anthropologie

Sometimes one of my artists will do work that they love, either in my courses or just for the pure joy of it. The cool part is seeing the variety of products the art ends up on when we pitch it to various companies. Teepees for Anthropolgie by Katie Vernon? Yeah.


This is the magical piece that Katie did in my home decor course. She is the queen of pretty greys and watery blue greens.

Art Board designed by Katie Vernon in my Creating Collections Home Decor class
Lookin’ for some great art? Contact us to license, buy or commission art for your fabulous project. We are happy to help you!

Jessica Allen’s New Home Decor Collection. Farm House Vibes.

Take a look at Jessica Allen’s beautifully painted home decor line for Creative Co-Op. She created this work in our Make Art That Sells Home Decor course. It’s so rewarding to see artists’ work come to life. The next class starts Monday, August 7th. I’m eager to see what new art comes out of it.
Below you can see Jessica’s work from class and the charming products that were made from her art. First, here’s the art board designed by our artist Jessica in our Creating Collections Home Decor class:


Check out these delightful plates that Jessica got as a result of her classwork.

See more of Jessica’s collection here.

Here’s another stunning art board that Jessica did in my class. I love her use of black.
…and ta da! Here are the gorgeous pillows that Creative Co-Op made from her art:

Art Directors: Lookin’ for some great art? Contact us to license, buy or commission art for your fabulous project. We are happy to help you!
The Studio Ladies

2016 Global Talent Search Finalists announced!

Screen Shot 2016-09-06 at 9.40.30 AM

The wait is over. It’s time to reveal the 2016 Global Talent Search Finalists, chosen from the 50 Semi-Finalists (who were selected from nearly 1,000 artists’ work).

We are thrilled to unveil the SIX Finalists, knowing that one of these artists’ careers is about to change forever.

Five were chosen by our panel of industry experts, and one chosen via public vote (our peoples choice winner). 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 the awesome prize details). The second assignment Lilla created was full of possibilities! The Semi-Finalists were asked to design a cover of a dessert recipe book from Sunny’s Cafe.

So without further ado, here we go…


Over 10,000 votes were cast by the public, and we can now reveal that the 2016 Global Talent Search People’s Choice Finalist is:

Mara Penny


Not only was Mara’s piece chosen through the public vote, she is also the top choice from our judges!

Comments from the judges:

“Mara Penny has full comprehension of the assignment. The feeling is delicate and feminine…like dessert! Nice contrast of color…inviting! Beautiful technique…love the lace doilies.”

“Mara Penny: Her composition, use of both arms and objects, and her palette all appealed to me. She created a bold book cover with quite a bit of detail as well. I’d pick this book up and hold it in my hands in a bookstore. Pretty work!”

“Mara Penny’s piece is eye grabbing! It is a complex illustration with lots of elements and the detail is wonderful — look at the tray of orange slices! Yet she lays the piece out in such a way that the piece feels clean and not too crowded.”



Our stellar panel of judges – with more than a century of industry experience between them in the Gift, Home Décor, Editorial and children’s book illustration, Fabric and Stationery, markets – took days deliberating over the Semi-Final gallery. It was incredibly hard to choose, but in the end the following five were selected as the other Finalists (in no particular order).  Below each submission is a comment from the Judges on what stood out in the piece.



Comment from the judges:

  • Combines desserts with elements of nature and gardening.
  • This is a magical place where the cake grows in plants and I love that sense of whimsy.
  • Love the painterly style. Her work seems to have great editorial potential.




Comments from the judges:

  • Her hand-painted, textural work stands out from the crowd and screams, I AM PREMIUM.
  • This is a beautiful cover and a gorgeous work of art as a standalone.
  • Her daring black background. Her animals and flowers are nicely worked into the cake’s base and border.




Comments from the judges:

  • This entire design is “pretty” and very sweet!
  • Nice composition and central focal point
  • Varied cake designs




Comments from the judges:

  • Highly detailed with so much happening in the piece yet it feels clean not too busy
  • Has a bit of “Marie Antoinette” flavor….the marketplace can’t get enough of Paris!
  • Nice technique and color – playful and sophisticated.




Comments from the judges:

  • Really stood out as being different from the rest.
  • Her color choice was bold and her style of illustration is very interesting.
  • Her style is editorial but could be adapted for products as well.


Lilla’s comments about the Finalists

You will notice 5 things in common in all of the Finalists’ work: 
First, they utilized extra bold contrast in their pieces and the work is easy to ‘read’. That is, you can distinguish what the imagery is at a glance. (Work that is too soft, or lacks contrast tends to not grab the eye of the art director, even if it is a beautiful piece.)
Second, you will see that the color palettes are totally gorgeous. On some level, this is probably one of the strongest reasons a piece gets selected. I know for me this is huge.
Third, the space is fully filled, but not in a cluttered way. There aren’t lonely spaces. This doesn’t mean that the piece needs to be filled to the brim, but there needs to be plenty of imagery in the piece. There are little things to discover upon further study. To create a pleasing piece without looking disorganized requires thoughtful design of the page.
Fourth, interestingly, all the typography is hand-lettered. The artists didn’t use type fonts. The judges respond to hand lettering on a gut level.
Fifth, and this one surprised me: five of the six pieces have a very large central focus! Perhaps that is pleasing to the judges, especially for a book cover. It gives the cover a sense of authority.


The judges also answered two important questions for us:

In general what stood out to you about the artists you chose?

  • All focused on the desserts, instead of the author of the cookbook. I found this appealing because it actually made me hungry and want something sweet! 
  • These artists also had designs that would stand out on a shelf.
  • Many of them used dark backgrounds which really made their design elements stand out.
  • I love bright colors and they definitely had the brightest, strongest colors of the bunch!
  • All felt original and fresh–they stood out amongst the others as being inventive, thoughtful and well-rounded as illustrators.
  • Each of them possess a high level of design skills that shone through in their pieces.
  • Bold use of color and color contrast.
  • Really liked the use of an unexpected dark background color. Sense of depth in the scene or interesting point of view.”
  • Several of them have an artists approach rather than a graphic designers approach which I think is appealing in today’s market.
  • They all look handmade or handpainted which is desirable. They also had a sense of humor in their work. People want to smile so this is important.
  • Each of them has commercial potential in either the editorial or gift/stationery market, or both.
  • Sophistication in their technique. A consistent style throughout the portfolio.
  • Commercial appeal to the imagery.

What advice would you give to those who you did NOT choose, in order to make their work more commercially appealing?

“Develop a voice and look that’s your own. Stay on top of how your work stands up against others in the market. Do your research by absorbing a bit of reference each day and stretch your muscles by working on self-assigned projects that keep your work pertinent (take inspiration from all the MATS assignments!!). Most important: have fun with the art that you make so your personality shines through!! Approach every project, big or small, with a sense of adventure and conquer your creative challenges with spirit, flavor and style! “

“Book jackets need to be a clear read. There needs to be a strong focus, and clear legible lettering. Simplify it down and avoid being formulaic.”

“Human characters are really tough! Art directors and buyers tend to have a really particular point of view and it can make or break a commission or purchase. In my experience, the US commercial market is less open to funky/exaggerated illustrative perspectives on humans (compared to the European market or other international markets). Color contrast, dynamic composition, and a clear focal point are very important to make a product, book cover, etc. stand out from the crowd.”

“Make sure your style has a unique voice. It should be somewhat timeless. If you include people in your illustration make sure your audience can relate to them. Don’t make your drawing too childlike unless that is your audience. Know what demographic you are targeting. Have a sense of humor in your work. Everyone likes to smile. “

A closing note from Lilla:

“About the Finalists: I am thrilled and delighted with the Finalists and their work! I have watched these artists grow considerably as MATS students and I am very proud of them.
About all of the semi-finalists: They are all amazing and I could easily see rep’ing a whole bunch of them! I hope they keep growing and try again next year.”

Congratulations to everyone! We are thrilled that together 10,000 public votes, plus our judging panel comprising some of the top art directors and creative professionals in the industry, independently selected a set of Finalists where many are graduates of Make Art That Sells. It’s clear that the courses helped them develop commercially-viable art, choose amazing colors and present it professionally. We cannot wait to see the work that comes out of our brand new class “Illustrating Children’s Books” which begins on Monday October, 3, 2016.

Stay tuned for the third and final assignment and thanks to everyone for voting!


Lilla, Beth, and the Studio Ladies



Would you like to take Make Art That Sells?

We have the following courses currently open for registration HERE!


Do you dream of illustrating a children’s book? Would you love to create a magical world with characters that you’ve designed? Do you love the magic of children’s books and feel that you have something to offer?  Then this course is for you.

In five weeks, you’ll create a brilliant children’s book pitch to help you land your dream children’s book gig. You’ll get over 20 videos, weekly assignments, live weekly video reviews, interviews with publishers and illustrators and more. Co-taught by top art agent Lilla Rogers and highly-respected children’s book art director Zoe Tucker.

Spaces are limited for our first session of class this October. Don’t miss out. REGISTER HERE



If you want to learn exactly what to put in your artwork to make killer portfolio pieces while staying true to your style and taste, MATS A and B is for you. Graduates of these courses have gone on to win work from clients such as Hallmark, Robert Kaufman Fabrics, Oopsy Daisy, Uppercase Magazine, West Elm, Midwest CBK, and more. It is industry learning that works in the real world. These comprehensive courses includes access to videos of Lilla Rogers reviewing over 500 pieces of art.


#MyGTSprep is back! Enter the Global Talent Search today


It’s Lilla here, artist agent, and I’m on the hunt for our next artist to represent.


I’m super excited to announce that it’s prep time for our annual Global Talent Search (GTS), one of the most closely-watched events in our industry. To help you get prepared, we will be sharing 5 free mini-assignments, known as the GTS Prep (#myGTSprep) all this week on the Make Art That Sells blog here. And if you have not yet registered for the Global Talent Search, book your place here and then dive into these ‘minis’ to help you get ready for the main competition.



Have you entered the 2016 Global Talent Search yet? Join us! This is an incredible opportunity not to be missed. Someone has to win, and it might just be you! Go on and take that leap. Registration closes next Wednesday, July 27th. Don’t miss out! Enter now!

Be sure to check the Make Art That Sells blog everyday this week for your free mini assignment and get those creative juices flowing.

Also, join us on Periscope today. It’s always fun.