My thoughts on the economy

Dear Readers,

I want to talk to you about the economy. I’ve been through three recessions as an artist, and I’ve always done well. I want to let you know that great art will always get work. Great work and great promotion will get you jobs.

This financial crisis will pass. There are many people that are a lot more invested in making it work than we are.

What doesn’t do well in a bad economy? Poor work, poor service, and people just sort of bored and tired of their own work.

In our economy, it’s a new paradigm. It’s not JUST a good economy or a bad economy. It’s a multi-faceted economy. If we, at Lilla Rogers Studio, for example, can get work from all over the world, then the rules of the game are different. It is my prediction that certain sectors of the economy will do poorly and certain sectors will do well. And everything in between. We are not destined for a one-size-fits-all recession.

How will artists fare? Since artists are trend-leading and entrepreneurial, the really good ones will make markets for themselves.

The election looks promising, and that, too, will infuse the entrepreneurs and artists with energy, which, in turn, will fuel the economy forward.

Also, leave me any questions in your comments and I will try to answer them. I care about our community and don’t want to see any unnecessary fear.

Warm regards,


  • Thanks for this. I have actually given notice at my soul-sucking job to pursue my art full time, and while I know in my heart this is what I must do, the truth is that the news of the economy has me a bit nervous. This post was exactly what I needed to read today.

    Thanks again,


    September 29, 2008
  • Lilla, I found this letter to be very helpful. Thank you for that. I think you are spot on that we are not destined for a one-size-fits-all recession. The rules are different this time around. It really makes me think a bit more and differently about marketing and promoting my work.

    Betsy Thompson

    September 29, 2008
  • Cheers to that!
    As a non US resident, but a close and somewhat dependent neighbor to the north, I say: fear only leads to hands down approach…:(

    September 29, 2008
  • Thanks, Helen! Work like yours will do well.

    September 29, 2008
  • thanks for the comforting words. i’m positive things will change for the better!
    keep doing what you’re doing so fabulously!

    September 29, 2008
  • HI Lilla,

    You are completely correct in saying its always the ones who work hard and create amazing designs that fair well, and that is true even when the economy is great.

    As an artist who has been on the licensing end for over 10 years now, I have seen the market go up and down, and you constantly have to reinvent yourself to stay current and market-worthy. These days I find myself creating more for my paper clients than ceramics or gifts, but that can change quickly as well.

    The worst thing to do is to give up, there is always going to be a need for great design, and without it the products cannot sell, otherwise you are looking at a plain piece of paper,fabric, ceramic, linens, etc.

    Now is the time to be even more creative!!

    September 29, 2008
  • Thank you, Ellen, for your corroboration. I think we’re both saying that It’s a time to not be a victim but to be a player. It’s time to push yourself to do your best and grow.

    September 29, 2008
  • Thank you for this great post…you’ve put into words what I KNOW to be true… things are not just black and white!!

    September 29, 2008
  • what a kind and thoughtful post… thank you, lilla.

    by kim
    September 29, 2008
  • Thanks for these words of wisdom. I completely agree with your thoughts (and i’ve been working the phones for the obama campaign, calling dear folks in swing states!). So it’s good to be an artist and an activist! Positivism is important—I think in life in general. So many great ideas and energy are percolating under and at the surface–on renewable energy, ways to live more lightly, etc etc. And I’d just like to add how splendidly this blog is coming along…many thanks!

    September 29, 2008
  • Great post, Lilla! Thank you!

    September 29, 2008
  • Many thanks for your comments today, Lilla. I can always count on you to be a positive and uplifting voice!

    by Lisa DeJohn
    September 29, 2008
  • do at your best what you are doing right now, concentrate on the present and never look too far. in good and bad times.
    this is what my 20 years career teached me.
    life is now.
    thank you lilla for your great post!

    by marco marella
    September 29, 2008
  • Thanks Lilla. That was an upbeat look at our economy.

    But honestly, do any of these artists make their living purely from illustration assignments? I find that most FT artists do so-so, but often have spouses or second careers that help offset living expenses. (ie. Stay at home moms or people who don’t really need the income) Even a successful illustrator ends up paying a rep between 35-50% of their earnings.

    I would be curious to know if it is truly possible to survive as an illustrator–especially in this economy. True about talent, but how much can a talented artist truly expect to make? A single artist…not a two income household. Illustrators are hit with self employment taxes, their own health insurance, business expenses, etc. Your candor would be so appreciated.

    by robin desilvio
    September 29, 2008
  • Good to read- I have been feeling positive and confident these days. Thanks for the extra boost.

    September 29, 2008
  • Wow! I just posted a post titled Is the sky was really falling!? And my friend Liz directed me here to read your post. This is great and just what I needed! If I turn OFF the news and take a look back at my year so far, it has been my best yet! No time for worry! Your words about what works and what doesn’t work are full wisdom for any business owner! Thanks!!

    October 1, 2008
  • I find that if I keep my nose close enough to the grindstone I can block out news of the gloomy economy.

    October 2, 2008
  • I love what you have to say.

    I am currently looking at potentially striking out on my own with full time illustration but I’m worried about the economy and how the publishing market is holding up under the pressure. This year has been the best ever for me. But I’ve been forced to turn away a fairly lucrative project simply because my present workload won’t allow it as I have to shoe-horn illustration into my evening and weekend hours due to my 9-5 job.

    I’m really kinda nervous about the prospect.

    October 5, 2008

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