Q&A with Lilla – Wall art

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. 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 Wall Art Market week in class.


Q) If you use some of your own surface designs to form patterned areas within wall art and it has already been licensed in a different market area, would you need to seek permission from a client to use it?

A) Yes. When you get a licensing gig, you want to be sure to find out usage and exclusive. “Exclusive” means where you cannot also license the work. For example, if you sold the patterned work to bolt fabric, they may require that art to be exclusive in bolt, but it may be OK to license in all other categories. So you would look at your records and know that you could license that particular piece in, say, wall art.


Q) And if your pattern hadn’t been licensed and you wish to license the pattern in its entirety, would you need to inform your potential client that it had already been used to form a small area in wall art?

A) It’s always good to tell all parties where the image is also licensed.


Q) In her interview in Make Art That Sells, Carly Gray of Oopsy Daisy mentions that they can make the art into many products and that people like buying them often as a matching collection. For some of us, this is a cool idea, making a collection, or thinking about the application of our work on different objects. But do art directors like to see that in our portfolios? Do they see a complete dining set with matching napkins and runner in a portfolio and get excited or do they prefer to just see the art and do the product thinking themselves? Is that different in different markets?

A) It’s good to do both! Some like to see mocked up products and some like to see the art as is and they get to brainstorm products from your art. What would be fun for you to have in your portfolio? Start there.


Q) If we don’t hear back from the art director, should we continue to bug them every 1-2 months with more work? How do we know if they are genuinely not interested (say, our style is not a good fit), so we’d stop bugging them?

A) By bugging them, I assume you mean sending them a newsletter, an email or postcard with your latest work. We (agents and art directors) don’t mind that. Remember, art directors need great work to help their products sell. It’s part of their job to look at work.


Q) As a continuation to the last question: For the “follow up in 1-2 months” strategy, let’s say I do have new bolt fabric work, but I also want to follow up with wall art and storybook publishers too, amongst others. Is it crucial to repurpose the designs to that specific industry, or is it OK if we just let them know what we’ve been doing, as long as it is related to the “marketable art and illustration” industry, and they’d understand?

A) First, you can definitely show other markets your work from a different market. That is, you can show your bolt collection to an apparel client. Just be sure that the bolt collection is on the market and OK to show. If in doubt, simply ask your client when the work is OK to show. They will be very happy for you to promote it.

Second, clients love to see lots of great work. Some should be right for their particular market, but it doesn’t all have to be right for them.


Q) What is the best way to approach an agent – do we need a whole portfolio first, or just a few pieces?

A) I can only speak for myself, but I know that we need to see quite a bit of varied work. This is because we like to get work for the artist right away, and the more strong work we have the more options there are. It’s very competitive.


Q) What do you think about having different styles for different markets? For example, vector for children’s and paint/collage for wall art? Is it too confusing to have it all when promoting our work?

A) It’s fine. The Apparel market is less interested in a “brand”, (so having a variety of work is fine), while editorial, for example, needs to see a consistent style so that they can commission you and know what they are getting.


Q) Can you/ should you sign artworks you are submitting for wall art? I always sign things I’m making to be hung on the wall, but perhaps this is different for licensing?

A) Great to sign things. Make sure your signature is as well done as your art. Keep it on a layer in case the client doesn’t want it on there.


Q) I see some artists using cursive script in their hand-lettering, but I had believed legibility to be an issue. How do you judge if it is successful?

A) My test is to ask myself if each letter could be read as a different letter. For example, might the letter “r” be at all mistaken for an “n”? If in doubt, then it needs to be clearer.



Got your own questions for Lilla? Join us for the next round of Make Art That Sells. Class begins on Monday October 20.

Book your spot here!


  • Perfect timing as I’m taking all I learned in MATS and working on icons to work with my wall art pieces – just started this week, hmm – thanks for tips! (and the previous Q&A posts, I devour them)

    October 16, 2014
  • Thanks!

    October 16, 2014

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