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Alumni success ‘spotlight’ interview with Vicky Woodgate


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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 Vicky Woodgate who has taken Bootcamp, MATS A, MATS B and MATS Creating Collections for home Decor. 

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

I have always wanted to be an artist from as far back as l can remember, so as soon as l could l sped off to art school studying at Chelsea School of Art in London. I finished my degree in Illustration and Graphic Design and like most students went and found myself on round the world back-packing trips. While away l got opportunities to paint murals – many in Australia, l got work as an illustrator for various pop magazines, and T-shirt companies – Australia was good to me.

Once returning to London l “fell” into working in the tv, theme-park and theatre world, painting huge backdrops, sets and rides, for wonderful clients like Universal, Warner Brothers, Tussards, The Globe and the BBC. After 10 years, much travelling and painting up ladders l missed illustration, l packed up and taught myself Illustrator and photoshop and reinvented myself as a digital freelance illustrator. It was hard, l managed to get an agent and l embarked over the next 10 years on editorial, educational and advertising work, it paid the bills but after a while l felt something was missing… hello MATS

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

Wildlife! The great outdoors –animals, birds, worms.. you name it.

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

I am new to children’s publishing and find it fascinating! Lets see how this goes for a while.

Vicky Woodgate book illustration

What are you working on currently?

An author-illustrated book about birds from around the world – called A World of Birds, with a journalistic- vintage diary feel with maps, facts and drawings- based on my merchandising line.

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

Don’t be afraid to try something new, get back to drawing, really do follow your heart when it comes to content and the direction you want to go in.

How have the classes helped your artwork evolve /grow?

It gave me the confidence to try something new, get out of my comfort zone, get back to drawing.

Any aha moments during MATS you would like to share?

I love the philosophy of MATS and what Lilla and the team bring – people really do respond to your passion/joy. This gave me the incentive to just go for it and create a merchandising line after taking HOME DÉCOR. Off the back of that experience l put in a proposal to write and illustrate a book about my passion – wildlife to a publisher I admired.

What are your key successes since taking a MATS class?

Creating a merchandising line based on British wildlife (my joy) and getting a 3 book publishing deal! Yay!  Based on wildlife, tick two for joy.

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

Whether you are a beginner or have been in the creative industry for years, that is of no matter, the most important thing is to enjoy what you create, it does not have to be polished, it could just be a spark for something you will revisit later, that is what l took from it, don’t put pressure on yourself and feel you need to create a certain look. Be yourself, also take advice and learn from the teachings and those around you, its such a welcoming supportive community, understand and get used to the deadlines if you are new to this industry, but don’t punish yourself if you fail to finish on time, do it again, and you will get it. It takes practise and before you know it, it will be second nature. Take out of the courses what YOU need, then go out and go for it! But mostly – ENJOY IT!

What is your dream gig for your artwork?

I’ve got it! My first author illustrated book called Urban Jungle just came out, a huge city map book, showing all the wildlife found in our global cities, facts and stories and how we can better understand those creatures living right beside us! I am currently working on a 2nd book followed by the Urban Jungle sequel.

ABOUT THE BOOK : URBAN JUNGLE

I always thought wouldn’t it be nice to write and illustrate my own book. So I decided to take time out and come up with a few concepts and create a proposal to send to publishers. I had no expectations, l was hopeful but knowing the huge amount of competition out there I was under no illusion that l would ‘land’ a deal. I had 3 ideas and went with my most “passion” subject “Wildlife” with the invaluable help of my great friend Zoe Tucker (who also teaches MATS Illustrating Children’s Books) – she steered me in a few important directions with my proposal. l spent two months coming up with research, look, layout and cover letter. Luckily my chosen publisher also loved the idea and we agreed a deal within a week of submission. Call it luck –timing- or just a good idea? Perhaps a combination of all three and a sprinkle of creative happy dust.

See more work here: Website | Instagram | Chiff chaff studio

Alumni success ‘spotlight’ interview with Felicia Spahr


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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

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Today, we have an interview with Felicia Spahr who has taken MATS A.

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

After years of being in advertising, then starting my own business, I suddenly had a powerful insight: that I was an artist, and I needed to do something about it. I fell in love with painting, and committed to sitting down at my kitchen table every day and making art like my life depended on it. I basically went from Square 0 (non-existent drawing and painting skills) to…something much better :)

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

One of my favorite things in the world to do is have people over my house and entertain them. I’m in love with the art of conversation, how to make people feel at home, how to present the food and table so people feel like they’re experiencing something wonderful.

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

I love wall art because I feel like I can express myself the best within that market. I feel like I think in shapes and color, and I love to put that all on paper and try to make sense of it.

What are you working on currently?

I’ve been learning Japanese brush painting and calligraphy, and have been working on pieces that are basically geometric abstracts of deconstructed calligraphy characters. I love combining how graceful I feel when I do calligraphy with a geometric piece that I have to be much more methodical and precise about creating.

Felicia’s artwork featured in UPPERCASE magazine

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

One of my favorite parts of the MATS experience was the constant reminder that there is so much work out there. This is a new world to me, so hearing Lilla say that and show us all the assignments her artists were getting made me feel like the world was expanding and my dream was possible.

How have the classes helped your artwork evolve /grow?

They really helped me integrate thinking about how other people would feel looking at what I create. Creating art is not just about me–it’s about an intimate relationship with who is looking at it. If I’m not thinking about them when I’m making the work, what am I doing?

Any aha moments during MATS you would like to share?

The second time I took MATS, I felt like I could evaluate my work like an art director or agent. This was huge for me, as I didn’t really know how to critique my work before. But putting myself in their shoes and seeing the art through their eyes helped me create not just artistically better work, but work I felt people would love.

What are your key successes since taking a MATS class?

Recently getting my paintings published in Uppercase Magazine was a huge win. When I got the email saying they had been published, I nearly lost it. I’ve been working so hard at this and to get that little win felt like my effort had paid off. Now, I’m just motivated to get back at my kitchen table and keep getting better.

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

If you feel like you don’t quite “get” how to get your work out there and have people love it and buy it, MATS helps you figure out exactly how markets work, and how to sell without selling out. There is no reason why an artist who creates great work should be struggling to make a living from it.

What is your dream gig for your artwork?

I’d love to create art for Anthropologie. Every time I look at their catalog and see the wall art, I drool.

See more work here: Website | Instagram

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MATS banner-title

Would you like to experience the Make Art That Sells classes yourself? Browse our live and self-paced classes here

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!

P.S. Keep an eye on your inbox for newsletters about our upcoming BIGGEST SALE OF THE YEAR and new MATS courses launching soon!

MATS works! Alumni success stories from students who took MATS A & B


I’m constantly blown away by my students and I really love watching your art keep getting better and better! The MATS community is like no other and it really is a wonderfully supportive group.

Today, I want to share some recent successes from MATS alumni who have taken our popular MATS A and MATS B classes! Please join me in congratulating them! MATS Works!

KRISHNAA SHYAM

Krishnaa launched a kickstarter campaign last week to manufacture her silk scarves.

Krishnaa writes: MATS taught me to always believe in yourself and go after what you want. To know that constantly working and pushing yourself out of you comfort zone can lead to delightful and interesting results. MATS also helped me as an individual to never give up and that every artist has something original and special to offer.

Read Krishnaa’s Alumni Success interview here.


LIV WAN

Liv was commissioned by Snapchat to create geofilters for their French speaking users.

Liv writes: 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 courses.

Read Liv’s Alumni Success interview here.


STEPHANIE HOFFMANN

Stephanie has published work for several online and print magazines and is en-route to being able to support herself full time with a combination of editorial jobs and selling surface pattern designs.

Stephanie writes: I would never have thought of doing editorial work, if it hadn’t been for MATS and the assignments were great preparation for doing real client work. When I started getting jobs I felt confident that I would be able to keep deadlines and MATS gave me tools for each stage of an assignment. Completing MATS A and B and doing the Global Talent Search gave me the confidence to quit my part time graphic design job and try my luck at illustrating full time.

Read Stephanie’s Alumni Success interview here.


Get instant access to our new MATS A & MATS B classrooms, sign up now and get access to all the materials until the end of 2019!

Make killer portfolio pieces while staying true to your style and taste in our self-paced MATS A and MATS B classes (join anytime).

The new MATS A and MATS B classrooms and all materials are available until the end of 2019, so grab your spot and create amazing portfolio pieces for the top ten most lucrative markets. Taking these classes is also essential to prepare for the Global Talent Search in 2018!

P.S. Keep an eye on your inbox for newsletters about our upcoming BIGGEST SALE OF THE YEAR and new MATS courses launching soon!

Alumni success ‘spotlight’ interview with Krishnaa Shyam


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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

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Today, we have an interview with Krishnaa Shyam from Krishnaa Shyam Designs. Krishnaa has taken MATS: Creating Collections for Home Décor, bootcamp 2015, 2016, 2017 and attended the MATS: Global Art Gathering.

Krishnaa also launched an exciting Kickstarter campaign here.

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

I’ve always been interested in pattern, drawing and design. I grew up in an extremely artistic household. My grandmother was an artist and I sat with her when she sketched and painted. Our home had the old mosaics from the 50’s with designs which was one of my first influences for pattern. I then studied History of art in college, then did a BFA in Illustration in the Savannah College of Art and Design. I found my love for patterns then and when I studied Brand Design in the Bath Spa University my final project was Indian Folk Art inspired patterns embroidered on felt. On this journey I came across the lovely Print and Pattern Blog and saw MATS there. Since then there has been no looking back!

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

Adding pattern and colour to life. Mostly hand drawing them, seeing it come to life on piece of paper. I love seeing the pleasure it brings to a person when you gift them with the joy of pattern and colour. I love wearing pattern and seeing it all around me. My dream is to add to people’s life through pattern.

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

I love designing for accessories and home furnishings. When you add a piece of accessory, a scarf or a tote can add so much to your mood! I absolutely adore stationery and I’m constantly hoarding! I can never resist a pretty notebook that inspires me to draw.

What are you working on currently?

My current project is a set of limited edition scarves inspired by a lovely small town called Chettinad in India. I’m launching it through a kickstarter campaign.

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

To always believe in yourself and go after what you want. To know that constantly working and pushing yourself out of you comfort zone can lead to delightful and interesting results.

How have the classes helped your artwork evolve /grow?

I’ve never wanted to push myself out of my comfort zone. MATS helped slowly push me. Giving me the support and understanding that every artist works at a different pace. This has made me create work that defined my style and me as an artist. It also helped me as an individual to never give up and that every artist has something original and special to offer.

Any aha moments during MATS you would like to share?

I did the Home Décor Course when it was launched and was one of the first to sign up. The aha moment came when I learned how to create a presentation sheet with professionally mocked up samples. That really helped. That it could be done so easily and look so professional.

What are your key successes since taking a MATS class?

Launching my own range of scarves and totes.  Having the confidence to launch a kickstarter to fund my manufacturing.

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

A course that aids you in finding your style. That pushes you gently to create work in new ways with a strong story or idea. It will help bring into focus what you want to do with your art.

What is your dream gig for your artwork?

Manufacturing and selling my own designs on products. This kickstarter is a step in that direction.

I’ve also never let go of my dream to work for Anthropologie. To create a complete range for them as I absolutely adore the brand.

See more work here: Website | Facebook | Instagram

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MATS banner-title

Would you like to experience the Make Art That Sells classes yourself? Browse our live and self-paced classes here

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!

 

Alumni success ‘spotlight’ interview with Liv Wan


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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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MATS banner-title

Would you like to experience the Make Art That Sells classes yourself? Browse our live and self-paced classes here

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!

Hurry! Class starts tomorrow! Read about Student Successes


 

Hurry! Class is filling up fast! I hope you’ll join me as we make some incredible art together.

Today, I want to share some recent MATS alumni successes, focusing on the illustration jobs our students have gotten for the Children’s Book industry after taking some of our courses! These are so wonderful to celebrate as we prepare for the next session of the Illustrating Children’s Books class, starting on Monday, October 2nd.

Please join me in congratulating them! MATS WORKS!

ANNABEL TEMPEST

Annabel illustrated three BabyLit Books published by Gibbs Smith. ‘Pride and Prejudice’ and ‘Moby Dick’ (above) were just released and the third book, ‘The Jungle’ book, is next.

Annabel writes: The reason I took MATS courses was in order to build my portfolio to a point where an agent would take me on. It worked! I’m delighted to say that I was taken on by Vicki Willden-Lebrecht’s agency ‘Bright’

Read Annabel’s Alumni Success interview here.

MATEJA LUKEZIC

Mateja received a gig to illustrate five books with a publisher in the UK because of the work she did in the Illustrating Children’s Books class.

Mateja writes: The content from the Illustrating Children’s Books class was incredibly valuable. It made me confident to take my portfolio to a Children’s book fair and show it to publishers which led me to my first book. I just finished the first book ”I am a Bee” of the five books from a series of animals. Now, I’m working on a second one, which will be about lions.

Read Mateja’s Alumni Success interview here.

LISA LARSEN

Lisa was contacted by Kalmbach Publishing to create two coloring books for adults, plus an author to illustrate a children’s book which was recently published. Lisa also has her fabric designs with a product company.

“After finishing two sessions of the ‘Illustrating Children’s Books course and sending many applications out, I was contacted by a published author to illustrate one of her books. The piece that got me the job was the spread I created for Mats-A. The book is now on Amazon and is called ‘Oma is 100’. These courses are not just an “art class”. They truly help launch your career as an illustrator and designer. Thank you Lilla Rogers for your amazing inspiration and wonderful courses that push us out of our comfort zones!”

Read Lisa’s Alumni Success interview here. 

NIKKI UPSHER

Nikki was approached by American Girl to illustrate a 95 page children’s book, after the Manager of Creative spotted Nikki’s work online during one of our classes.

Nikki writes: I did some test girl characters for American Girl and then worked with an art director doing sketches for the book and once this was approved I worked digitally to add color and pattern work. The book was published June 2017.

Read Nikki’s Alumni Success interview here.

ALEXANDRA THOMPSON

Alexandra was awarded the mentorship award by the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators LA (SCBWI), giving her the opportunity to have her work reviewed by 6 industry professionals.

Alexandra writes: I took the first round of Illustrating Children’s Books, and my illustrations really helped to strengthen my body of work. I learned so much from the course and it helped me put together a solid portfolio. I’m so glad I took the course! It gave me confidence to join SCBWI and attend my first conference – an incredible experience.

Read Alexandra’s Alumni Success interview here.

WENDY LEACH

Wendy has taken two sessions of our ‘Illustrating Children’s Books’ class and told us that one of her assignments got her featured as the illustrator of the month on the society of children’s book writers and illustrators website!

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I’m an art agent with more than 30 years of experience. I’ve teamed up with acclaimed children’s book art director Zoë Tucker to provide you with everything you need to launch your children’s book illustration career to bring it to the next level. Through this step-by-step, supportive and engaging five-week online course, we will help you create a brilliant pitch, and also give you all the tools, insight, and advice you need to succeed.

Read more about what you’ll get in class here

By the end of the course you will have your own distinctive presentation ready to send to clients (which includes character sheets, a gorgeous double-page spread and a show-stopping front cover, based on a text provided in class).

You will also have all the insider knowledge you need to identify and approach clients, and then work with them in a professional way once you have secured the gig. And you will do all of this in the company of other like-minded artists from around the world in our supportive class community.

Alumni success ‘spotlight’ interview with Mateja Lukezic


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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 Mateja Lukezic from Mima illustration​ who has taken our Illustrating Children’s Books class.

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

I was working for seven years as a graphic designer in a big company. When I came back to work after the birth of my second child I felt something was missing. I couldn’t be creative in the way I wanted. I decided to leave my job, which was not an easy decision and go to college. I obtained a degree for Scenography and Animation. I was invited to make illustrations for puppets at the Ljubljana Puppet Theatre, which in the end lead me to the place where I’m today. Through this I found my passion for illustration again.

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

Nature and animals bring me joy. They’re also the ones I love to illustrate the most. I get inspired in a daily walk with my dog through the woods where I can enjoy peaceful moments.

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

Illustrating for children’s books is my favorite. I have been surrounded by my own kids half of my life which I think had impacted me the most. I love working on characters, playing with variety of expressions.

What are you working on currently?

I just finished the first book ”I am a Bee” of the five books from a series of animals. Now, I’m working on a second one, which will be about lions.

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

There are so many things I have learnt, but most of all I appreciated the inside information on how the children’s book industry works. I learnt how to approach a publisher, an art director and how to build a strong portfolio, which is crucial especially when you’re in the beginning. And the most of all, how to work with a text when you are illustrating it.

How have the classes helped your artwork evolve /grow?

The content from the Illustrating Children’s Books class was incredibly valuable. I grew through the learning process which made me confident to take my portfolio to a Children’s book fair and show it to publishers which lead me to my first book.

Any aha moments during MATS you would like to share?

Be kind to yourself. No matter how talented you are you can’t succeed if you are putting yourself down

What are your key successes since taking a MATS class?

I would say again, be kind to yourself. Embrace every stage you are and imagine that you only can be better. Don’t be affraid to show your work. Book fair is one of the great place where you can get a portfolio review from different publishers and find the right market for you.

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

Taking a MATS Class is the best place where you can get everything you need, from start to end. It opens you a new dimension and you can see things from a new perspective. I would do it all over again!

 

What is your dream gig for your artwork?

I have a dream to make my own book. I already have a theme and main character.

See more work here: Website | Instagram | Facebook

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Do you dream of illustrating a children’s book? Would you love to create a magical world with characters that you’ve designed? Do you love the magic of children’s books and feel that you have something to offer? Then this course is for you.

Alumni success ‘spotlight’ interview with Nikki Upsher


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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 Nikki Upsher Design, who has taken MATS A, MATS B, Creating Collections for Home Decor and Illustrating Children’s Books. Nikki was also a finalist in our 2015 Global Talent Search.

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

I did a degree in fashion design and graduated in 1988….i worked in the fashion industry for 20 years. I retrained 10 years ago in graphic design and worked as a greeting card designer for 5 years for a big UK company and left to freelance in Nov 2014.

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

Many things…I feel very lucky to be able to make a living from designing. My rescue dogs make me happy and I love to go out with my friends and have great chats and a drink or two ;)

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

Definitely the kids market. I love to design cute characters. I also like doing home dec.

What are you working on currently?

I am currently working on everyday gift wrap and xmas gift wrap. I am also doing a trend forecasting course and am updating my website.

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

Colour for me is key, I am never happy with my design if the colour isn’t right.

How have the classes helped your artwork evolve /grow?

It gave me the opportunity to practise lots of different techniques.

Any aha moments during MATS you would like to share?

Keep going! If a design is not going well, keep practising and experimenting.

What are your key successes since taking a MATS class?

I have worked for some well known retailers mainly in America, Europe and a few in the Far East. American Girl contacted me in Feb 2016 after seeing my work on Pinterest and Instagram. I initially did some test girl characters for them and then worked with an art director doing sketches for the book and once this was approved I worked digitally to add colour and pattern work.

Here is the 95 page book for American Girl (published June 2017)

How would you describe taking a MATS class to a fellow artist looking to develop their art
An enjoyable and intense experience, where you can improve your art and meet lots of like minded individuals who are happy to share their experiences.

What is your dream gig for your artwork?

Marks and Spencers Childrens wear is my dream gig.

See more work here: Website

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Do you dream of illustrating a children’s book? Would you love to create a magical world with characters that you’ve designed? Do you love the magic of children’s books and feel that you have something to offer? Then this course is for you.

Alumni success ‘spotlight’ interview with Alexandra Thompson


alumni-success-04

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

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Today, we have an interview with Alexandra Thompson, who has taken Bootcamp and Illustrating Children’s Books.

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

Art has always been a huge part of my life. I’ve been drawing since I can remember and my family always encouraged me to pursue the arts. When I was small I used to get up early before anyone was awake and pop in Disney VHS movies. I would hit pause and draw the characters from the shaky screen. I’d always dreamed of creating picture books, but I ended up getting my BFA in fashion design. After many different non fashion and art related jobs, I ended up in children’s apparel design. This is where I discovered that there was actually a job where people drew pictures to put on kid’s clothing! Now I work as a freelance print and pattern designer while working on my picture book illustrations on the side.

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

Sitting in my studio with all of my art supplies out, good tunes playing, sketching away. My best work comes out when I give myself time to explore and experiment without constantly judging my work as I go.

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

Children’s Market – whether that be apparel or books. I love creating cute, whimsical, and humorous characters and discovering their stories as they develop on the page.

What are you working on currently?

I am currently working on two picture book dummies and revisions to my picture book portfolio. I received the 2017 SCBWI LA Mentorship award for my portfolio in July which gave me the opportunity to have my work reviewed by 6 industry professionals. I received such invaluable feedback and I’ve been busy applying their advice to new and old pieces.

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

MAKE MORE ART. Seriously so simple, but I always had this barrier of needing everything I made to be perfect..and then I wouldn’t make anything at all! Now I’m better about getting myself to sketch at least a little everyday. Don’t be afraid to experiment. You learn a little something from every piece of art you make, even if you feel like it’s a total flop.

How have the classes helped your artwork evolve /grow?

I took the ICB1 class and just from the consistency of working on my art everyday I really started to see more of my own style emerge and a great improvement in my drawings overall. It’s also such an inspiration to be surrounded in class by so many other amazing artists. It really pushes you to grow and challenge yourself.

Any aha moments during MATS you would like to share?

See above :) Make more art!

What are your key successes since taking a MATS class?

After taking ICB1, I joined SCBWI. I then scraped together the courage (with the gentle prodding of my husband) to go to my first SCBWI conference in July. I submitted my portfolio to the portfolio showcase (which was terrifying!), and ended up receiving the mentorship award! It was such validation that I was on the right path.

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

It is INTENSE! You will work your butt off, but you will be so glad that you did. If you dedicate the time each day to work on your art you will absolutely see growth in your work. You also get amazing industry information and are surrounded by a wonderful community of fellow creatives.

What is your dream gig for your artwork?

My dream is to illustrate children’s picture books. I feel like I’m finally on the right path to work towards that goal!

See more work here: Website | Instagram | Facebook

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Do you dream of illustrating a children’s book? Would you love to create a magical world with characters that you’ve designed? Do you love the magic of children’s books and feel that you have something to offer? Then this course is for you.

Alumni success ‘spotlight’ interview with Lisa Larsen


alumni-success-04

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

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Today, we have an interview with Lisa Larsen, who has taken Bootcamp, Mats-A and the Global Talent Search

How did you get started in art and design?

Art is something that has always been part of my life. I started painting as a child and throughout my life as an adult I have taken many art education courses, participated in several art shows, founded a couple of art rubber stamp and greeting card companies, and so on. However, I truly started my career as an artist and designer after I retired from 25 years of working in high tech. I decided I wanted a life where I do what I love, meet fabulous people to work with, can make my own schedule, work from anywhere I want to be, and where I can expand in any direction I am inclined to go. A wonderful friend and illustrator suggested I take one of Lilla’s classes, and so I did. I use Lilla’s courses as a guide to my career as an illustrator and designer.

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

I LOVE to draw, to design patterns, to get lost in gardens, to work with people to help them reach their dreams. GARDENS bring me joy. Travel and experiencing other cultures brings me Joy. Learning new things brings me joy! I think I am in the right place ☺.

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

At the moment I would say my favorite markets are the bolt fabric and wall art markets. I love making patterns and I really enjoy painting floral and travel scenes in watercolors. I say “at the moment” because I have spent a ton of time making repeat patterns as a result of the Mats-A course and freelance work, so that is where I am comfortable now. Wall art is something that has been part of my life for years and will likely continue to be forever.
Ask me in three months and my answer will be different!

What are you working on currently?

I just finished a set of stained glass designs for a paper die company, illustrated a children’s book, and completed a set of repeat patterns for a new client. I am currently working on a number of designs for a wholesale manufacturer for the tourist gift market, on a travel inspired set of coloring books, and on a collection of repeat patterns which I want to license in 2018.

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

I took the bootcamp course early on and learned that I had a lot to learn! Seriously, the bootcamp class exposed me to many markets, to amazing illustrators, and to Lilla’s critiques of the work that was submitted. It was really wonderful to see we can make beautiful and interesting things with the skills we already have and that there is no need to wait in fear that our art is not good enough.

MATS-A has provided a more in depth view of several markets. I have taken my time with this self-paced course, and chosen to really dive into each market, do the assignments, and then go find work in those markets using the MATS-A work as part of my portfolio. By doing work in the selected markets for real clients, I both build up my portfolio and continue my learning journey. This approach gives me some hands on experience which also helps me understand what I truly like to work on.

A couple of things really stand out from taking these courses:

  • Getting professional inputs on what works and what doesn’t, how to make things better, what people are looking for, is invaluable. It really helps to point us in the right direction.
  • Doing minis as part of a warm up before tacking big assignments helps get rid of artist block, gets some of the practice sketches out of the way, and helps converge on how to tackle the big assignments.
  • This is a JOB not a HOBBY! That means deadlines, professional work, hours and hours and hours of elbow grease in order to get somewhere.
  • You are only as good as you are today. Work with that. The more you do, the better you get.
  • I could go on, but people will stop reading ;).

How have the classes helped your artwork evolve/grow?

Lilla’s reviews are key. We get so used to our own work that we don’t see how to improve it. Listening to the reviews gives me specific things to look for and improve. The Facebook group is incredible as well. So many people from all over the world are so willing to provide feedback. I love this.
Taking these courses really helps polish my pieces and helps them stand out in each market. We get to hear about what the buyers want, we get to see what is trending, we get to listen to constructive feedback, and most of all, we have to actually DO an assignment. There is no substitute for hours of work.

Any Aha moments during MATS you would like to share?

I guess my Aha moment was seeing how really simple icons can be combined in incredibly powerful ways. Rather than looking at a finished piece as though it is this crazy hard thing to achieve, I now think of it in terms of all of the little components that come together into the final design. Not much different than any other project really, but for some reason, I had not thought of it in art!

What are your key successes since taking the MATS class?

I’ll speak to both bootcamp and MATS-A. The first really great thing that happened was I got the chance to create two coloring books for adults for Kalmbach Publishing. Someone at the company saw one of my pieces on social media and got in contact with me. I am now designing a collection of travel inspired coloring books which I hope to place with another publisher in 2018. After finishing the bolt fabric assignment, I started looking for repeat pattern work. I did several freelance small jobs which helped increase my skill level with the Adobe tools which I now use almost with my eyes closed. Shortly after, I was contacted by a company that manufactures their own fabric patterns and sells products made with their fabric. I have been designing regularly for them for some time now and hope the first products will be out in the October timeframe. I am now designing a wonderful nature inspired collection which I hope to be able to place with a company that sells into the quilt market.

After finishing two sessions of children’s book illustration courses and sending many applications out, I was contacted by a published author to illustrate one of her books. The piece that got me the job was the spread I created for Mats-A. The book is now on Amazon and is called “Oma is 100”.

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

I would tell any artist or creative person who has a desire to start a career in illustration and design that this is a very worthwhile investment. It will not only open your eyes to what is available out there, but will help you figure out how to apply what you know to the different markets. It is full of pertinent information, uses a proven method to help you develop your skill for each market, helps you figure out what market to focus on, provides an unbelievably awesome support group, and is just so inspiring.

These courses are not just an “art class”. They truly help launch your career as an illustrator and designer.

What is your dream gig for your artwork?

Just one? Here are my top few:

  • Get my watercolor orchid collection licensed by someone like Crate and Barrel, West Elm, Pottery Barn.
  • Get my nature inspired collection of bolt fabric patterns licensed by a large bolt fabric manufacturer.
  • Do stickers and bedding and clothing for children! Land of Nod or Oopsy Daisy.
  • More coloring books for adults – this may be fading, but I have some awesome travel inspired designs in the works.

See more work here: Website | Facebook | Instagram

 

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Do you dream of illustrating a children’s book? Would you love to create a magical world with characters that you’ve designed? Do you love the magic of children’s books and feel that you have something to offer? Then this course is for you.