Q&A with Lilla – Part 1 (from MATS A)

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.

In Lilla’s Make Art That Sells classes she often gets asked about how to sell work in particular markets, so we thought we’d share some of those questions and answers with you.

The next Make Art That Sells classes will start 2 March, 2015 and registration is open here.

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! These questions were asked during the MATS Part A class last year.


Q. For bolt fabric, why is it that if you work digitally you pick a limited palette of colors, while if you are painting you can have any number? What I am wondering is that don’t bolt fabric manufacturers need a limited number of colors for their printing costs to be reasonable? So is there a disadvantage to submit work with a large/painted palette?

A: This is a great question. I don’t know the technicalities of it, but I do know that some bolt fabric companies have told me that they love traditional media and that they are able to either print digitally (full color) or they somehow do the separations. I asked about cost and that was not a concern. Therefore, I would say it’s not a disadvantage, although I haven’t talked to every bolt fabric company out there. The deal is, make art you love and know that painting I traditional media is not a deterrence.

Q. I am very happy with the drawings I’ve made in preparation for an assignment, they are interesting and quirky in some way, BUT when talking about styles, I have been working allot with a specific ‘cartoony’ style the past year, and I don’t feel these fit in that style. I was not consciously going for it, I was just trying out new things.  My question: Do I just keep going, take it as an adventure and see where I end up? Showing I can do various styles.  Or do I embrace the ‘style’ I’ve been using and try concentrate on that?

A: I’m sure that many folks are thinking the same sorts of things. What you’re asking is that what you seem to be doing to prepare is different from what your body of work currently consists of. While there is no hard and fast answer to your question, you can approach it this way: take the MATS course as an opportunity to be open, be free, try new things and see where it goes. The reason for this is that it will inform your existing style and will revitalize you and the work.

Q. My question is about finding a style. I’ve been looking at my work and I’m not sure that there’s a strong coherence between the pieces, I’m a beginner so I understand that with more and more practice a style will develop naturally, but because I like to vary the media, style and technique, I sense that could lessen the consistency in a portfolio. What is more convenient? (For the clients and as an artist) To have an eclectic style and change according to your mood, to decide and focus on one technique and style, to choose a style depending on the project briefing, or to pick, say, two graphic languages and work under 2 different names/brands?

A: Ah, the question of evolving one’s style! I want you to do the following. Over the course of the 5 weeks, write your feelings in a journal regarding your style of the work you do in class. See what emerges.

Put the whole issue of style out of your mind—as best you can—for the MATS 5 weeks, and allow yourself to play. Naturally, your style will evolve. Let the art lead the way, not your mind. That is, let your art and your artmaking—coming from the joy of the art experience—lead the way. At the end of the five weeks, I’d love to hear what you’ve learned!

A style: you can’t force it and you can’t fight it. It will emerge and usually encompasses all the bits and parts of your art personality. Trust that, with many hours of art-making, that it will come to together. I promise you.

Over the years artists have asked me about two different styles with two pseudonyms and my answer is this. It’s hard enough to build up one brand, let alone building promoting two. I advise only one name.

Q. When submitting collections for bolt fabric, is it recommended or useful to include mock-ups at all?  Is there a standard number of colourways to present when submitting, or would you just submit one?

A: Generally, art directors at bolt fabric companies like to see a small collection, like 3 – 5 pieces that they can work with. You can vary them any way you like, such as a few repeats, some coordinates, etc. There is no hard and fast rule.

Q. I’m assuming that fabric printing relies on Pantone colors, vs. the CMYK formula of printing-on-paper. Is that a correct assumption?

A: For limited color palettes where you do flat color like in Illustrator, the colors are like silk screen where they are each printed separately. When the manufacturer does digital printing, it’s more like CMYK. I don’t know the specifics of the printing techniques because my artists just send Photoshop or Illustrator files in CMYK and the client does the rest.

Q. How do we move forward and go about finding a manufacturer to license our art for the specific chosen market, say a bolt fabric company line Robert Kauffman. Do you approach them via email and introduce yourself and perhaps include a print pattern design like we have for week 1? Do we introduce ourself and just attach a website link for them to check our style and design out themselves? What should we say in our first communication to them and who do we send to. I know some of the companies have a artists submission section, but do we get lost in the million who submit there? What is the best way to move forward and present yourself?

A: I go over presentation of your work in greater detail in MATS B, Week 2. I can tell you that all of the above are great. Start where you are and build. Clients need your great art so they tend to look at everything, even if briefly. Your email should be short and sweet, and avoid any typos so that you look professional. You would include 2 – 5 lo res jpgs and a link to your website, unless their submission policy says differently. Even if you don’t hear back, it does not mean that they are not interested; they may be watching you and want to see more work as you create it and grow.


Got your own questions for Lilla? Join us for the next round of Make Art That Sells. Class begins on Monday 2 March, 2015 and registration is open here.



  • Thank you, thank you Lilla! Your style “prescription” is right on target for me as style has been dominating my consciousness lately. I just grabbed one of my empty little journals, hand-lettered “STYLE” on the cover and will keep notes (in addition to making lots of art). Look forward to MATS A!

    February 6, 2015
  • Thanks! Think of it as an adventure!

    by Lilla Rogers
    February 9, 2015

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