Guest Blogger : Emily Balsley reflects on MATS and the GTS Finals

Hey Lilla!

Now that Make Art That Sells and the Global Talent Search are over I finally have the time to sit down and reflect on the last six months. What a whirlwind it has been! I went into the course a fairly “green” illustrator and I have come out of it ready to take on the world one illustration at a time – with new skills, self-confidence, focus and drive.

Before Make Art That Sells, I had been slowly building my portfolio, never quite comfortable with sharing it, as I didn’t think it was ready. And now, between the ten weeks of MATS and three rounds of the Global Talent Search, I have SO many solid pieces – my website has been transformed! And I can’t wait to start promoting it.

When I first signed up for the course, it was hard for me to justify paying so much for this class when I was hardly making any money as an illustrator! But that was the point of the course, right?!? With encouragement from my husband, I decided it was time to do something for myself and look at it as an investment for my career. And now that it’s over, it was worth every penny.

I can’t imagine how many hours of planning went into this class, but thank you so much for putting in all the effort. It really shows. The lessons were well thought-out. The interviews with the experts were en pointe. Splitting the assignments into parts really helped me grasp the approach and process. And let’s not forget the points you continued to drill into us week after week such as:
-Icons hold all the power.
-How can we tell if we have a strong composition and color balance? Shrink it down to a thumbnail, of course!
-Now I know incorporating neutral colors into my palette is oh, so important (though I’m still working on this one!).
-My number one takeaway? People buy my joy. My goal as a maker has always been to bring a smile to someone’s face. And now I know the secret – put myself into my work and people will be inspired. I love that I can take a crazy thought, channel it through my pen, and it transforms into a piece of art that people want. That’s magic.

In addition to the classwork, I have been blessed with many new friendships. My classmates have been so warm, supportive and generous. Though, I have to say – creating among hundreds of highly skilled artists can be pretty intimidating! There were many times I happened to catch a glimpse of their works-in-progress on Facebook and I thought there was no way I could compete with that. But I realized we all are amazing in our own way. We are all artists. We all have similar goals – we want to share our art (our magic) with the rest of the world. And as you constantly reminded us – there is a place for us all! I truly believe that.

When the Global Talent Search came along I thought this would be another good opportunity to create a solid portfolio piece. I never thought I would get through to the final round! Working through the three rounds, and utilizing the skills we learned from MATS Part A, I went to town. I had a blast working on the first two assignments and somehow managed my stress level to the point where I hit “send” and never looked back. I tried to keep my cool and took the “whatever happens, happens” approach. Admittedly, round 3 was a bit more stressful, as the final prize was on the line! When I heard the final results, yes, there a was a moment of disappointment. But then I realized I MADE IT TO THE FINALS OF THE LILLA ROGERS GLOBAL TALENT SEARCH. Wowsa! That is something to be proud of.

Today I am ready to start putting myself out there! As I look at my updated portfolio I know this is the time. Getting through to the final round of GTS has provided the confidence and validation that I am on the right path. This is what I’m supposed to be doing, and I couldn’t be more excited about what opportunities lie ahead.

Lilla, I cannot thank you enough for this wonderful gift! Emily Balsley

To register for Make Art That Sells click here.






  • Loved hearing from Emily again! I just did an interview with her on my blog if you want to check out more information about her!

    She is amazing. Her art is amazing, and I’m so excited to see where she goes from here!
    xx Kate


    January 6, 2014
  • Wonderful guest post! I love how Emily brought all her Lilla Rogers experiences together into a delightful post. The reader can almost feel the stress she had felt — and the satisfied feeling when she was able to create her magic, even amidst all her doubts. She has proven that she is truly a gifted artist with lots to share with the world. Kudos to you, Emily — and to you also, Lilla, for being the nurturing influence these budding illustrators crave.

    January 6, 2014
  • Emily, your work is so amazing and unique. xxx

    by Zoe
    January 6, 2014
  • Your work is so fun and unique! Way to go!

    January 7, 2014
  • Beautiful artwork!! So loved being your classmate & cheering you on in the GTS!

    January 7, 2014
  • Thank you, Linda!

    by Lilla
    January 8, 2014
  • Wow this is a great post and your work is amazing Emily!

    January 9, 2014
  • Oh, wow – thank you all for the love! It was a pretty awesome experience. xo

    January 9, 2014
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