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How to select a text to illustrate. Free download and Join our Facebook live! Our Illustrating Children’s Book course—starts Monday!


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I thought it would be really fun to pull a handout from the upcoming Illustrating Children’s Books course (starts Monday!) and give it to you now so you could get started early.

Download your free copy here.

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This handout will help you choose which text to illustrate for the course. It focuses on examining your personality type, art style, and preferred art media.

I always want my students to be able to dive right into art-making, and the most effective way to accomplish this is by breaking everything down into tiny, bite-sized bits and making the process fun. This prevents procrastination and engages the creative brain.

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Hear directly from one of our students just how terrific the course was. Watch this fun short video by Kirsti Davidson.

 

The first step in creating an illustrated children’s book pitch is this: You need to select a text that shows off your style! The cool part of this course is that we actually provide you with three carefully-selected texts that you’ll enjoy illustrating. Don’t worry—we help you every step of the way to do your best.

Download your free Text Chooser here.

Join Lilla for a special Facebook Live TODAY at 12 noon Boston time (EDT) on the our Facebook page HERE.

 

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ALL-NEW TEXTS 

My co-teacher and top children’s book art director, Zoë Tucker, has written three charming brand-new, original texts for you to work from. Zoë has organized the texts into page breaks and she even gives you valuable art director tips. When you sign up for class, you’ll get the three all-new texts TODAY as the classroom is OPEN!

LIVE VIDEO 

We’re excited to announce that we will be doing a few Facebook Live streaming videos exclusively for the students while the course is running. You’ll have an opportunity to interact with Zoë and me in a dynamic, real-time setting.

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By the end of the course you will have a complete presentation ready to send to clients, including a character page, a double-page spread, and a front cover, based on a text provided in class.

Read more about the course here.  Hurry! Sign up now for this fantastic course before it sells out! (It did last time!)

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Yours in artful success, Lilla

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P.S. Extra bonus! In class, you’ll also get five fun art technique videos where I teach you proportion, poses, facial expressions, creating backgrounds, scale, lettering, and more—all the key ingredients for a winning children’s book pitch.

#MYMATSPREP: Jitna in your scene (Day 5)


Oh, man, you are a whole bunch of brilliant artists! You delight me with your imagination, sensitivity, talent. Are you enjoying yourself? Play. Visit Instagram and search the hashtag #mymatsprep to see the vast array of terrific art being created this week for the MATS Prep.

You know, a few years ago we came up with the idea of a free mini series as preparation for our courses. We figured that it would be a way for the students to get geared up for class and also to get a taste for what my teaching style is like, to see if it’s a good fit. We have been wowed with the response to our MATS Preps, and I thoroughly enjoy writing them. I hope you’ve found them helpful.

So today, for our last day of Prep, you’re going to live the life of a children’s book illustrator. It’s about placing a character into an environment. That’s the nuts and bolts of illustrating a kid book, and what you’re going to learn in our course.

You’re going to take your drawing of Jitna from MATS Prep Day One and place her into any scene that you’ve done so far. If you’re just joining us, read the blog posts above to catch up.

Where is Jitna? Is she enjoying the environment? Is she scared? Brave? Create a story in your head for her. Play. Daydream. This is your art and you are the boss of it!

Can’t wait to see what you do! I am loving this MATS Prep as I watch you grow in 5 short days.

Share your images on Instagram: Tag us @makeartthatsells and use hashtags #mymatsprep and #matskidbook

Xo

Lilla

 

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Are you ready to dive in and make a commitment to your success as a Children’s Book Illustrator?

Sign up HERE. Hurry! The last remaining spots are going fast!

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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

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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

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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.

#MYMATSPREP: Scene Magic (Day 4)


Wow, what fantastic worlds you created yesterday. I dig your wacky minds. By the way, if you’ve just joined us, you can start any time. Visit Instagram and search the hashtag #mymatsprep to see the vast array of terrific art being created this week for the MATS Prep.

Today, I’m going to teach you three giant tricks to create depth (distance) in your artwork.

–If you draw something on the top of your page, it looks like it’s far away. For example, if you draw a little house toward the top of your page, it looks like it’s in the distance. That’s because our understanding of distance in art is that the higher up the page, the farther away. And then, by making stuff smaller, it enhances the illusion of distance.

The converse is true: things at the bottom of the page are close to the viewer.

You can enhance this by altering the scale (size) of whatever it is you’re drawing.

–Second, things in the distance are affected by what’s called atmospheric perspective. That means that things far away are more muted (slightly grey-out). This is because there are particles in the air (and maybe even fog), plus human vision is less acute for distance, so it’s going to be softer.

–Third, if you draw something that starts at the bottom of your page, and travels up the page, we ‘read’ it to be moving to the far distance. For example a road, river or a fence will progressively get smaller as it goes up the page. Try it!

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Mr. and Mrs. Robert Andrews, Thomas Gainsborough, c. 1748–1750.

Things get smaller and duller as you go up the page, creating distance.

These are three powerful techniques you can use to create a sense of depth in your work.

Why is depth worth creating? Well, I want you to have as many tools in your tool box so should you want to create distance, you know how. For example, let’s say your character is traveling from a lake to a city. You want the reader to enjoy the travel experience. For example, if you were to draw the lake on one page and the city on another, you miss the opportunity to illustrate the adventure.

So take some elements of your work from yesterday (or if you’re just joining us, read up on the previous assignments and jump in now).

Share your images on Instagram: Tag us @makeartthatsells and use hashtags #mymatsprep and #matskidbook

If you are enjoying this content, then you will love the Make Art That Sells courses, and in particular, our course Illustrating Children’s Books. Every day for five weeks, you’ll get a ton of awesomeness to help you grow your art. Sign up now! I am eager to help you kick butt as an illustrator and get some fantastic commissions. MATS works!

Lilla’s Tip of the Day: What’s the deal with art trends? Who cares, anyway? You are your own unique mix. Make your own trends. Lead the way. I have never met two people that are the same. Every person I get to know is an amazing and unique constellation of qualities and personal history. And so are you. Be yourself and you will create your own ‘trends’. Better to be yourself and see where that takes you.

 

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Are you ready to dive in and make a commitment to your success as a Children’s Book Illustrator?

Sign up HERE. Hurry! The last remaining spots are going fast!

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Alumni success ‘spotlight’ interview with Alexandra Thompson


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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 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


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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 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.

#MYMATSPREP: Setting flip (Day 3)


 

I’m going to make you flip out today!

Children are so in touch with their imagination. They live in fantasy land a great deal of the time.

Children will love your imaginative world.

I’m eager today to help you make some magic.

Take the drawing you did of the view out of your bedroom window from yesterday (or if you didn’t do it yet, no worries; you can dive right in today). Now, flip the proportions of things. For example:

Make huge buildings tiny.
Make little insects huge.
If the people were big, make them small. If they were small (like you’re looking down at the from the top floor of a building), then draw them huge.

You get the idea. It’s going to be crazy!

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Little people and huge plants.

Draw it, and show us. I cannot wait to enjoy what you’ve done!

You’ll be creating some more scene magic tomorrow.

Share your images on Instagram: Tag us @makeartthatsells and use hashtags #mymatsprep and #matskidbook

Lilla’s Tip of the Day: To be a great artist, you need to take risks and let people see your mind. You need to be willing to try new things, and try what you feel like drawing. Sometimes it’s baby steps, but keep pushing forward.

xo

Lilla

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PS Remember to visit Instagram and search the hashtag #mymatsprep to see the vast array of terrific art being created this week for the MATS Prep.

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Are you ready to dive in and make a commitment to your success as a Children’s Book Illustrator?

Sign up HERE. Hurry! The last remaining spots are going fast!

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Alumni success ‘spotlight’ interview with Annabel Tempest


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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 Annabel Tempest, who has taken ALL of our MATS courses –  Four Years of Bootcamp 2014-2107, MATS A and B several times, Creating Collections for Home Decor and entered the Global Talent Search two years in a row. Annabel is celebrating many successes and particularly the three children’s books she illustrated!

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

Ever since I was a little girl my favourite thing has been drawing, cutting, sticking, colouring in, making and doing. So I suppose I started then! I feel so lucky that my job is essentially doing what I love most in the world. I did a degree in Fashion Textiles in Bristol UK back in the olden days. When I left University I showed my textile portfolio to someone who said they didn’t want to be rude but my designs looked more like wrapping paper. I love wrapping paper so undeterred I sent my work off to greetings companies and soon started selling designs for wrap and cards. I’ve continued to do that for the last twenty years alongside all sorts of other work and projects.

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

Lots of things bring me joy, swimming in the very cold sea, dancing in the kitchen on a Friday night, early morning walks in my wellies with my two Jack Russell’s, bedtime stories with my boys, wearing my tutu and of course delicious new art supplies. Creatively I love a really juicy new brief, it’s that fizz of adrenalin that you get when you think you’ve come up with a really good idea and tingle of excitement when you’ve made, designed or illustrated something that you are so pleased with you can’t stop looking!

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

I’ve been lucky enough to work in lots of different markets so it’s hard to pick. At the moment I’m really loving the world of Children’s Picture Books. I really enjoy surface pattern, but I think I bring a lot decorative and repeat elements into all the illustration jobs I do. So I think there is a lot of crossover. As Lilla would say “ It’s all about the icons. Icons, icons, icons.”

What are you working on currently?

I’ve literally JUST finished my third title ‘The Jungle Book’ for the heavenly BabyLit Books published by Gibbs Smith. I illustrated ‘Pride and Prejudice’ and ‘Moby Dick’ for them earlier this year, which have just been released. My brilliant agency ‘Bright’ threw a launch party at ‘The Bright Emporium’ with the lovely girls from ‘38a The Shop’ who wrote and designed the books. It was gorgeous, full of confetti balloons and packed to the rafters with little crafters making wooden spoon Bennet girls, eating Moby Dick cup cakes listening to the stories and posing with Mr Darcy. The party was such a lovely unexpected bonus after all the hard work. And all the books sold out!

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

With Lilla’s courses every brief starts with a ‘Mini’. A chance to loosen up, explore and enjoy the subject matter before you dive into the main brief. This has been a revelation, and such an important tool to take away for me. As rather than being overwhelmed by the mammoth, daunting task ahead, you’ve already spent some time messing about, having fun without worrying about the final product. So you’re up and running seamlessly into the main brief full of inspiration and ideas without the anxiety of a blank piece of paper staring back at you demanding a final artwork.

How have the classes helped your artwork evolve /grow?

I think one of the most important things I’ve learned is being much more thoughtful and selective with my colour palette. I love colour and before I started Lilla’s courses I tended to throw all the brightest colours of the rainbow at something, no muted or muddy contrast for me! Now one of my favourite things is picking and working with quite a minimal colour palette. It’s somehow quite liberating being constrained by a few colours and I think it gives my work a stronger overall look.

Any aha moments during MATS you would like to share?

I did MATS B for the first time back in 2014 and Lilla set us a brief to look at local flora and fauna for ‘paper products’. I felt rather dispirited as it was November and anyone who lives in England knows that this time of year can be a bit grey and brown. I was amazed that when I really looked there was so much more than mud and dead leaves. I came back from walks with armfuls of seedpods, berries, thistles and dried flower skeletons. It really opened my eyes to all the wonder and inspiration that can be found right under our noses when you really look.That was my aha moment, when you look, REALLY LOOK. I did one of my favourite pieces that week ‘Dandy Lion’

What are your key successes since taking a MATS class?

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 have been with Vicki Willden-Lebrecht’s agency ‘Bright’ since February 2016. And being commissioned to do three titles for BabyLit has been amazing. Fingers crossed they’ll ask me to do another! I’m currently working on something with Simon & Schuster which will be ready for the Bologna Book Fair which is very exciting. I think also it is the unexpected successes too. I did a Somerset map in the Editorial week of MATS B and before I knew it I was selling prints of it at Christmas Markets. A local tea shop, ‘Living Pretty’ stocked them and when the owner Kate Macy opened a pub ‘The Firehouse Somerset’ she asked me to do all the branding for it. An fabulous but rather terrifying proposition. But a year and a half on and it’s covered in busy waiter badgers, wine pouring pigs, pizza flipping foxes and ponies in pearls. ‘The Firehouse’ has just won ‘Best Newcomer’ at The Great British Pub Awards.

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

Taking MATS classes are so much more than brilliant inspiration filled briefs, and the rollercoaster adrenalin ride of getting your final piece in by Sunday evening. It’s the AMAZING MATS community and all the wonderful opportunities, connections and friendships it opens up. The highlight of 2015 was ‘The Global Art Gathering’ in Brighton. It was incredible to meet so many of my online friends in person and of course Lilla. I also met the glorious Margo Tantau, and went on to do ‘Creating Collections for Home Decor’ MATS course run by Lilla and Margo. At the same time I met brilliant Zoë Tucker, and the following year did the MATS course ‘Illustrating Children’s Books’ with Zoë and Lilla. I also met the lovely Rachael Taylor and wonderful Beth Kempton, co-founders of MATS sister company ‘Make it in Design’ and have had the pleasure of attending some fabulous design inspiration days with them. Having just finished Beth’s book ‘Freedom Seeker’ I was spurred on to sign up for her ‘Freedom Seeker’ workshop. So many avenues of possibility and adventure from signing up to do one on-line class!

What is your dream gig for your artwork?

This is an easy question. My Dream gig, is to write and illustrate my own children’s book and then take that artwork onto lunch boxes, pyjamas, postage stamps, cuckoo clocks, teapots and suitcases. Oh and then if someone could commission a children’s television series, that would be perfect. Dream BIG.

See more work here: Website | Instagram| Twitter

For publishing enquiries please say hello to my agent Arabella Stein at [email protected]

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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.

#MYMATSPREP: Setting (Day 2)


We are pretending all week that you have just been commissioned to illustrate a children’s book.

Yesterday, you played around with drawing a character called “Jitna”. Now, you’re going to play with the setting. The environment, or setting, is one of the most exciting parts of a children’s book.

Why? Illustrators love settings because it’s their opportunity to create an imaginative world that adds to the text.

buildingsWhat’s the view out of your window? All photos by Lilla Rogers

For today, you’re going to make a setting exploration drawing. Go to your bedroom window and draw what you see outside. (If you don’t have a window in your bedroom, you can choose another window.) Do your visual research. Look up at the sky, look down below, look for people, cars, trees, things on the sidewalk, things in the distance. I can’t wait to see what you see!

viewWhat’s the view out of your window?

“But Lilla, the view out of my window is really ugly. Or boring. Or lame.” First of all, I doubt that. You may be tired of it but we’re not.

Here’s what I say to you: Use anything as an opportunity to be creative. Look and look and look. Space out. Daydream. See what comes. You are a creative person! To be a success, you must be able to make magic out of any assignment! That’s why the client will come to you! Just because it might now come easily right off the doesn’t mean it’s not possible.

When I was an illustrator, I realized that any assignment had the potential to be an award-winning piece. I thought, “What would my art heroes do with this? They would do something amazing, so maybe I could if I open my mind and visualize. (Deep breath!) I just need to imagine something marvelous.” And so can you. Maybe not right away, but bit by bit you will delight yourself as your work becomes more consistently beautiful. So think about that as you take on this MATS Prep today.

Part of what makes a children’s book so appealing is a magical environment. Whether you draw realistically, or paint in a moody style, or design in a witty way, it’s the well-observed details that matter.

You can label your drawing with the name of your town/city so we can enjoy the huge variety of MATS Prep participants. It’s going to be remarkable to see the variety of life out there: city streets, country living, who knows? Personally, I can’t wait to learn more about you!

Of course draw in your own style, or any style you like.

Tomorrow, you’ll use the information you gathered today.

Share your images on Instagram: Tag us @makeartthatsells and use hashtags #mymatsprep and #matskidbook

Lilla’s Tip of the Day: The best artists are known for their style, and art directors come to them for what they (the artist) can uniquely deliver. Allow yourself to take the risk to try something different. Be open to whatever style emerges today as you draw. Maybe it’s a slightly different look. There’s no law that says you need to stay in one style.

xo

Lilla

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Are you ready to dive in and make a commitment to your success as a Children’s Book Illustrator?

Sign up HERE. Hurry! The last remaining spots are going fast!

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