Revealing the Finalists for the 2013 Global Talent Search!


What a journey this has been! Over 1500 entrants joined us from more than 30 countries worldwide for our first round, and then 50 semi-finalists battled it out to win one of six coveted spots in the Final. You can find out more about what was involved at each stage of the competition here.

Today we are thrilled to reveal the six Finalists, knowing that one of these artists’ careers is about to change for ever. Five were chosen by our panel of industry experts, and one was chosen via public vote. The overall competition winner will be represented by Lilla Rogers Studio for two years, and win a host of licensing deals from prestigious companies (see here for details). The assignment was to create a Farmer’s Market Tote Bag with an autumnal theme.

So without further ado, here are our six finalists (in no particular order), along with some of the judges‘ feedback about their work:


Judges’ comments about Emily’s entry included:

  • I’ve never seen a pumpkin strapped to a bike rack before, so…..Emily’s brilliant.
  • I love the title: it’s a simple, strong written idea, and the axis for a sweet, soulful, fun piece of art.
  • Retro but not too much so; has roots in the past but is still totally original.
  • This is a great composition. The style feels fresh and original. There is something truly happy and carefree about the design. It really evokes emotion, and sends a very clear message. The palette is simple, yet very effective. I love the graphic quality of the illustration, combined with the decorative lettering.
  • The way she rendered the presentation makes it look like a real tote bag I could see living happily in stores this fall.



Judges’ comments about Zoe’s entry included:

  • Scrumptious color…love the whimsical flavor.
  • This is a fun and contemporary “up-do” to color for fall.  I like the playfulness of the images and their arrangement.
  • The type is fun and the whole composition hangs together well.  I like the contrast in line quality of the illustrations and just the general warm, cozy – yet modern feel.
  • Love the colors on this one! That pink/coral color is beautiful paired with the brown and pops of orange and turquoise.
  • All of her elements are executed really well with gorgeous detail.



Judges’ comments about Daniel’s entry included:

  • Daniel has a sweet approach and a great range. His characters, people and animals alike, are fabulous and cute and funny.
  • Amazingly cute and whimsical design with a hint of nostalgia for vintage kids illustration.
  • Love Love Love. Just a big happy tree and all its friends. From musicians to fellows with a wheel barrow (ending the action in the lower right corner. Great sign-off).
  • Clever. And incredible facial expressions. I want to visit here.
  • Cute vintage-y characters in a scene that doesn’t feel busy but incorporates nice details (facial expressions, interactions between characters).


Judges’ comments about Lizzie’s entry included:

  • Beautiful color sense. I love the line quality of her work, and she has a really great eye. I liked how there were multiple layers to her design, as I looked at it I kept being drawn in and saw more. The subject was not so literal, but a bit inspirational and unexpected.
  • This is just so charming in its contemporary, naive style reminiscent of Lois Lenski. My eye wants to move around and discover all of the little surprises in the illustration. It is very sweet, but very modern.
  • Fantastic use of geometrics which have been brought subtly into the design. This and the great typography shows the designer is very aware trends.
  • Really love this palette. Feels Earthy and green, gives you the warm fuzzy feeling of Fall. She has a great illustration style, love her characters and icons.
  • She needs to be hired by the universe to make some new flowers. The shapes and ideas are delightful.




Judges’ comments about Josephine’s entry included:

  • I just love this. It’s just plain old gorgeous. It’s very refined, lush, and powerful. She uses great attention-getting colors. It’s grown up and sophisticated, yet fun and playful.
  • There is beautiful detail in every element. It feels polished, and complete. Nothing is unfinished or rough. Your eye moves easily from one thing to the next, with lovely stops everywhere you look. FAB.
  • I like her use of color and the style of the flowers and composition. It has a good energy to it that is playful yet not juvenile, and would appeal to a range of ages.
  • Great use of color and the tote has a fashionable flavor.
  • This piece is thought out in every aspect. The colors feel like Fall, but modern, young, hip Fall. Not too traditional. Love the play on words “It’s for gathering”.


Vesper was the clear winner of the public vote (over 10,000 votes cast!) and goes through to the final as ‘The People’s Choice’.


Judges’ feedback

We asked the judges “Overall what made your top 5 stand out from the crowd?” This is what they said:

  • I think they’re all really strong illustrators with a keen sense of design and an attention to craft and detail. They stood out amongst the awesome entries and gave me a little charge when I saw each of them. I think they all have their own voice and incredible skills to back up that voice.
  • Great use of the theme. Simple and timeless design elements. Thoughtful consideration of the execution and how the illustration will sit on the tote.
  • Illustration style, color palette, composition, cleverness, thoughtfulness of how to make this concept their own.
  • Unique approaches with clear personality and imagination that shows!
  • They aren’t just decorating, they’re supporting clear concepts, and often with a strong use of text.
  • They have a strong visual ground; the ideas have a focus and scale that works on a bag often seen from a distance.
  • They know how to make characters you can empathize with.
  • The designs I chose were fashionable (on trend), looked hard to do (not easily replicated by anyone who knows how to use Illustrator), they had their own sense of style (a way of drawing that runs through their whole body of work), and were joyful to look at (meaning people will feel happy when they see it)
  • My top 5 were chosen because of their overall sense of style and design color, and typography. All had an interesting, eye-catching, unexpected take in their work and for me that made my choices. I looked at details and techniques. I felt that each of these artists would be very sale-able, and a designer that could tackle a project.


We also asked them “What general advice would you give to those who didn’t make your top 5 about how to make their work more commercially viable?” Here’s their advice:

  • Try to make your work stand out from what is in the market already.
  • When you have a challenge like this, give us a fresh, surprising solution.
  • Think about the overall composition.
  • Get words involved; they’re the secret weapon of great illustration. Or, create a picture that shows a little “narrative nano-second” – a moment that has sense of timing. It’s better than a scene that is just standing still.
  • Simplify. Don’t make it too busy for something like a tote bag. This particular assignment naturally called for a strong central image.
  • Consider what people want to carry around every day. Totes are meant to be fun, simple and functional additions to your wardrobe and everyday life.
  • Remember your audience’s age. Is a market bag used by a teenager or an adult? What style would most appeal to your client’s customer?
  • Think about what would appeal to a wide range of people – don’t indulge in eccentricity too much. Be quirky if the brief allows and have your own ideas – but also think whether it would appeal to the mass market.
  • Put a LOT of effort in
  • Truly challenge yourself to be unique in style – not a version of other popular illustrators or styles. Use your imagination to create a unique way of showing an idea or telling a story.
  • Ask yourself what makes your design stand out…and be able to articulate it.  If you can’t, then you haven’t challenged yourself enough.



Congratulations to everyone! We are thrilled that our judging panel, comprising some of the top art directors and creative professionals in the industry, selected a set of Finalists which includes FOUR graduates of Make Art That Sells. It was clear that the course helped them develop commercially-viable art, choose amazing colors and present it professionally. We cannot wait to see the work that comes out of the next class (beginning October 7 2013!)


Huge thanks to everyone who entered the competition, and especially to the 50 semi-finalists who put so much time, energy and love into their submissions. We are sorry that you cannot all be in the Final, but hope you have enjoyed taking part, and that the exposure has been valuable to you. We would also like to thank everyone who voted, and all our judges who took so much care selecting their choices and sharing their thoughts.

What happens now?

The Finalists will be sent their third and final assignment later today by email. They will be asked to submit their entry by Monday 23 September, and in the meantime will have a 1-1 Skype call with Lilla so they can find out more about each other. After that Lilla and her team of agents will select the winner, who will be announced here on the blog on Thursday 3 October 2013. And then a whole new phase of their art career will begin…


  • Congratulations to all the finalists! Great work!

    I would have liked to see judges comments on the fine work of the People’s Choice winner, Vesper Stamper. I would have noted that the design integrates beautifully with the design of the bag itself. It is not merely an image put onto a bag. I would also say that the illustration style is very contemporary and whimsical which I love. Not “too” cute. Where can I buy this bag? I have to have one!

    by Eile Meier
    September 10, 2013
  • great!!I voted for 2 of them.The hole experience,from the beginning,has been really important to understand this kind of market and work..I stopped the first round,but it was great to follow my Mats friends and I continued to learn!

    September 10, 2013
  • Hi Lilla! Would you comment on The People’s Choice Winner, Vesper Stamper’s work? So many people voted for her bag for a reason and I’m sure the judges had opinions too…but most of all, we’d really LOVE to hear your input on this most popular submission! Thank you!

    September 10, 2013
  • What’s not to love?

    by Peachmist
    September 10, 2013
  • Congrats to all! Such inspiring, beautiful work. I don’t envy the final judging as it will surely be a tough decision. Such talent! Wishing you all the best!

    September 10, 2013
  • Congrats to all!

    by Lourdes Llibre
    September 11, 2013
  • Congrats to all! Yay MATS!
    These designs are all so amazing. Can’t wait to see what the finalists come up with—and who will be Lilla’s next artist!

    September 11, 2013
  • I loved reading through all the judges comments. What a tremendous wealth of information there is here! Good luck to the finalists and congrats.

    September 11, 2013
  • I would love to hear feedback from Vesper’s submission too. I love her design and voted for her bag as well. Everyone did an amazing job!

    September 15, 2013
  • I love to see the different stages of this competition. I wish we had a link to go back and see all of the entries for the farmer market bags…and not just the winners. I found them all so beautiful and inspiring. It made me want to go out and get creative and make something. Can you create a link to view all past entries?

    by judy
    September 19, 2013

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