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Alumni success ‘spotlight’ interview with Liv Wan


We are so proud of our Make Art That Sells Alumni, and we are pleased to feature a series of spotlight interviews showcasing their successes and artwork. We’ve asked them to share how the MATS courses have helped them learn and grow. You can see more Alumni Success stories here


Today, we have an interview with Liv Wan from Liv Wan Illustration. Liv has taken have taken MATS A, Bootcamp and the Illustrating Children’s Book Course.

Tell us a little about how you got started in art and design

I grew up with my grandfather and we didn’t have a lot of money for me to learn anything such as piano, ballet or really anything. So I had to find some low-cost but fun hobbies to do when I was young. My grandfather was a great cook and I learnt how to cook by watching him cook and helping him to prepare food in the kitchen. Drawing is another low-cost and fun thing to do, all I need is a pen and a piece of paper then I can spend a whole day drawing.

So I’ve always been very fond of cooking and drawing but when I grew up in Taiwan, people didn’t encourage children to study art or to work as an artist. That’s why I studied cooking originally and I worked as a chef for many years. After my daughter arrived I found the anti-social hours were impossible so I applied to study a HND in illustration at my local college and I got a place. I spent two years studying that then I went on to study illustration at University level. Since I graduated from University I’ve worked as a full time illustrator.

Lilla always says “People buy your joy.” What brings you joy?’

Food, travel, gardening, flowers, vintage things such as old cameras, radio and tv. My family and I are foodies! I love draw things related to food, drink and cooking. Travel is another thing I love so I draw maps when I have time so I can plan my next journey. I also like flowers. I worked in a florist for a very short period of time when I studied in high school and I loved it. If one day I can’t work as an illustrator I would love to work as a florist. I like vintage things such as old cameras, radios and televisions. My first illustration commission was to illustrate three vintage video cameras for a local design agency to decorate their conference room. Gardening is my new hobby. We just moved into our new flat the end 2016 and I went from no gardens to front and rear gardens! So I’ve been none-stop growing vegetables, fruits and flowers in my garden. I love drawing happy and colourful things because I want to bring happiness to people who view my illustrations.

Which is your favorite market(s) to design for and why?

When I took the MATS A self-paced class I really enjoy home décor and bolt fabric patterns. I just feel life is so happy when I be able to draw and design beautiful and happy things and see them to be made in the products and fabric. Fortunately and unfortunately I spent the last year working on a big illustration contract so I couldn’t take the last home décor class, which is a shame.

I would love to illustrate children’s books as well because I have a five-year old daughter and she always inspires me with her super fun, quirky and creative ideas. So I think it would be great if one day I can illustrate children’s book with images inspired by her super fun, creative ideas.

What are you working on currently?

I was just recently head hunted by Snap Inc. (Snapchat) to illustrate and design their geofilters for French speaking users. I couldn’t even speak when I received their email this is such a high profile company, so I was really thrilled.

What are some of the key things you have learnt from the MATS experience?

There are too many things I learnt from the MATS experience!

The first and best thing I learnt from the MATS experience is “Draw what you love and people buy your joy!” This is the best and the greatest thing I’ve learnt from MATS course. You have no idea how many times I’ve been knocked down in my studies because my works were too happy, too colourful or not gloomy enough. But Lilla encouraged us to “Draw what you love and people buy your joy!” Ever since I took MATS courses I feel I’ve found more focus when I prepare my portfolio. I feel like I’m a different person. I feel no guilt to draw things I enjoy and I love and I know when people view my works they can feel that as well.

The second best thing I learn from the MATS experience is hand lettering and you should “paint” your letters rather than write them. I’ve always feel very insecure with my hand writing so I’ve avoided doing any hand lettering for really long time. But after MATS class I started practicing my hand lettering a lot more. I still have a lot to learn and need to practice more but I think this hand lettering skill has helped me to gained more commissions projects.

How have the classes helped your artwork evolve /grow?

I think after I took the MATS courses my portfolio looks more “focused” and not just a collection of random things. I bring more personality into my artwork and I’m more confident with my artwork.

Any aha moments during MATS you would like to share?

There are so many Aha moments during my learning with MATS courses!

For example, you can turn your motifs and spot illustrations into patterns for fabric and paper. MATS classes gave me a lot of “insightful” information from different markets so I know how different markets work. MATS classes let me know it’s ok to be “me” and draw things I love. This course also helped me to understand what art directors are looking for in different markets and how to get in contact with different art directors.

What are your key successes since taking a MATS class?

I was commissioned by Snapchat to create geofilters for their French speaking users. This is my first high profile customer. They love my illustrations and know I have experience working with typography because they have seen my post-MATS portfolio. I don’t think I would have got this job if I hadn’t taken the MATS course.

How would you describe taking a MATS class to a fellow artist looking to develop their art

I’ve recommended MATS classes to so many people. I told them this is a class you must take at least once in your life time. This class has transformed my artwork and improved it so much. I would love to take more MATS classes myself and I would recommend anyone who is serious to art and design should take it as well. I often wish my university teachers could have taught us in the way the MATS classes teach us.

What is your dream gig for your artwork?

I want to publish my first children’s book and illustrated cookbook. I want to have my own product line.

See more work here: Website | Instagram | Facebook


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Graduates of our courses have gone on to win work from clients such as Hallmark, Robert Kaufman Fabrics, Oopsy Daisy, Uppercase Magazine, West Elm, Midwest CBK, and more. It is industry learning that works in the real world. Find out more HERE and start today!

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