Q&A with Lilla

question of the dayWALL

Over the next few weeks we are bringing back Lilla’s popular Q&A column, this time with 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! We will be sharing a host of questions and answers over the next few Fridays so stay tuned!

Q) How can we find an agent/ artist representative to represent our work? 

Lilla: The book, “Artist’s and Graphic Designer’s Market” lists agents, and each agent lists how they like to be approached. Generally, I suggest emailing a few lo res jpgs (72 dpi) and a link to a website, plus a little bit on why you’d like an agent, and in particular that agency. Agents take a percentage, from about 30% to 50%. Generally, most agents are exclusive in all categories, but some handle only licensing, or children’s books, for example.

Q) Isn’t it a risk to submit art to companies that buy art when they often also develop their own collections and might copy your ideas? Can you protect your work against abuse this way?

Lilla: Do you hold everything close to you, or do you risk it and show your work to get work? You show your work. 99% of the time, companies do not copy. They don’t want a lawsuit. Companies that do copy are so rare, and more and more are getting outed by social media and legal action. We as artists can band together now.

The more you are a unique brand, the less likely you are to be copied, and when you are, it’s obvious that it’s your work. (This course helps you create your own unique brand, your own special look. So you are in the right place!) Some agencies and artists require passwords to their site. In addition to a blog and portfolios of all our artists work on our site, we do have a password-protected section for our freshest work. It’s a bit of both. You can give a taste on your site and blog, and then send your freshest work out to your favorite clients.

Think about any company out there, like Paperchase or Crate & Barrel. Any other manufacturer or retailer can copy or riff off of their products, too. We all take risks.

Do your best, keep making work, put your name on all art, only send lo res jpgs, and copyright your work. (Note: copyright arises automatically in some countries)

Q) How do you create a story in your design (like squirrels baking pies) instead of just drawing pictures? Do you try to think of something witty?

Lilla: Don’t force it. Play. Make up a story. Dream.  Space out. Pretend you’re telling a little tale to a child. Where is that little raccoon going? What is she wearing? Not everyone creates stories. It’s not for everyone. No worries. You’ll learn more about this next week in the Children’s Book week.

Q) When creating coordinate patterns can I use elements that are contained in the principal pattern? Emma Schoneberg

Lilla: Yes, that’s fine, but you want to give value to the client, so the less repetition, the better.

Q)I have a question about typography in different languages. I sometimes use words in the Irish language, but it’s not a well-known language. Would I be limiting myself by using Irish words in my illustrations/patterns or would it be a chance to make my work unique? Tina Devins

Lilla: You want to be able to sell your work around the world. The largest market is English-speaking, so you want to not limit yourself. Be unique in other ways.

Q) If we work mainly in Photoshop and a client asks for a file in Illustrator what do we do?

Lilla: Work in the program that you like best. Build up your body of work. Most clients can take either format. You can’t second guess who wants what. Work in layers in Photoshop, hi res, and don’t flatten. I have artists that work in Photoshop, and artists that work in Illustrator. Rarely do they work equally in both. And they all get work. If you like flat shapes, Illustrator is best. If you like paint and traditional media and scanning in, Photoshop is best.

Q) Up until now I have sold most of my art on print on demand sites such as Society6, Redbubble, Zazzle etc. Would it be OK to license art and also sell it this way?  How is this viewed within the industry?

Lilla: It’s totally fine. It’s a great way to get your work out there, seen, make some money, link to your products from you site, and test what art of yours is selling well.


Got your own questions for Lilla? Join us for the next round of Make Art That Sells. Class begins March 31.

Book your spot here!


  • Nice. How kind of you to answer some FAQ’s. Thank you, Lilla!

    February 28, 2014
  • This was a very helpful post- specifically the answers about fear of being copied, whether to use a society 6 shop etc, and who uses photoshop vs illustrator. I am a painter and do a lot of watercolor, and have been drawn to using photoshop more (it’s also a program I used for 15+ years as a graphic designer), but I had worried about needing to beef up my Adobe Illustrator skills. While I’ll still work on getting better with that program, I won’t stress myself out with it as much. Thank you!

    March 2, 2014

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