I’ve been an art agent for over twenty-two years, and I’ve overseen the commissioning of thousands of assignments that my artists have gotten over the years. I’ve seen trends come and go, but what I know for sure is that artists thrive by staying fresh. Those who stay stuck in their style drastically reduce their career longevity.
Staying up on trends is really just about being aware of the visual cultural conversation. As we make art and design, we see, we create, we show. It’s an evolution of style we share with one another. Like molecules, we bounce off each other, ever affected by our environment. The true creative leaders vibe off of the aesthetic conversation, but then they bring it to the next level to lead the way. There are tools you can learn to develop this awareness.
I thought you might enjoy reading the FREE 10-page piece I wrote called How to be Your Own Trend Detective. This is one of many downloadables that I give out in my e-course called Make Art That Sells: Part B because I want artists to learn how to dig deep to find gorgeous color palettes, fresh subject matter, and interesting patterns and motifs. I get great pleasure from seeing the work of my students evolve and flourish, so that’s why I write these things.
You can download it here.
You know what? I thoroughly enjoy writing instructional pieces for students, so I’ve packed a ton of downloadables just like this one in my courses. Some of our students actually print out all the materials from the Make Art That Sells courses and pop them into a binder! I hope you’ll join me in class, and together we can grow your work.
You can sign up for Make Art That Sells Part A and/or Part B right now and get instant access to all the goodness.
Margo Tantau, co-teacher of our upcoming class ‘MATS: Creating Collections for Home Décor’ spends a huge amount of her time on the road, mostly in Asia, where she visits the very factories where they make the 5000+ products she oversees each year. Here is a glimpse into her work travels, so you can see just what is involved in bringing your art to life on products.
*This is an excerpt from our online class ‘MATS: Creating Collections for Home Décor’ which begins on May 16. Book your spot here.
A day in China… Visiting the ceramic factory
#inasiaagain. This is how I’ve started tagging all my trip pictures. I am both fascinated and humbled by the experiences I have as I work. I take it all in with respect and appreciation for the fact that I am part of the cycle of life here.. but also merely an observer. I learn something every time.
Today we start out early, as we’ll be driving inland to the county of Dehua, in Fujian province. It has been known for centuries as a main ceramic producing area in China. Since 1368, in fact. Dehua was and is still well known for a specific type, Blanc de Chine, which is a beautiful white porcelain. They do many other types of ceramics here now, as well.
Blanc de Chine from the Kangxi Period(1662-1722) The 2012 auction estimate for this piece was 3,000-4,000 Euro (alain.r.truong)
I never tire of watching the world go by outside the van window, as we wind up into the more mountainous area of Fujian province, from the port of Xiamen.
There are temples here and there. Sometimes we stop if we can spare the time. These are some of my favorite moments.. a glimpse into sacred history and culture. I feel like I’m peeking behind a curtain.
There are ancient tiles and ceramics peppered throughout the temples, on rooftops, walls, and decorative features.
If a Buddha figure has to be discarded due to any reason, it must be returned to a sacred place. I have found little caves full, and I mean breathtakingly full, of beautiful old Buddha statues.
I take away with me both new and ageless thoughts. I am grateful for the experience.
As we get closer to Dehua, the green mountains get more populated, and rural mixes with town.
There always seems to be room to grow something, though. The Chinese people use space wisely, it seems. They make it work.
This woman sets out her vegetables for sale on a mat at the side of the road.
A city bustles, commerce thrives.
This is a typical urban scene. There are apartments up above, and these separate garage-like shops underneath, selling everything from tires to toothpaste.
We reach the factory. Typically, a factory will have a showroom full of samples of dishware, serving, gift and decorative pieces that they have produced. We take a look. This is a particularly sophisticated factory, with good design.
They are working on a line of bakeware and accessory pieces in the factory now, so we ask if we can have a look. It helps us to know what their capabilities are. I’m always completely fascinated.
Pressing clay into bowl molds.
Drying the bowls on racks and racks.
And firing those bowls.
And there are many other shapes… see how everything is hand-touched? In some way, everything is handmade. This is a startling revelation to many, but people are the key part of the process, still. I so appreciate this, and I never cease to be amazed at the technique, the dedication, and the talent.
Teapots on their way into the kiln for the first firing. This is the bisque firing round, then glaze will be applied and they’ll be fired again. If there is a decal or hand painting to be added, that is yet another step and another trip through the kiln.
Unloading the kiln. It takes people to do all this.
Tables and shelves of glazed pieces, ready for the next step in the process.
These are bright yellow glazed baking dishes, with brown hand painted trim. They’ll most likely have lids added before they are carefully checked over by quality control. They’ll then be labeled and packed, loaded on a truck and taken to the nearest port, filled into a container, put onto a very large ship, and take the many-weeks long journey across the sea.
Some that didn’t make it …
And then after (or during) all that… tea. We are always offered tea. Another ages-old tradition that is culturally rich and much appreciated.
We will visit other factories today, which offer slightly different product, designs, and skill level. These hours will be full of experiences, efficiencies, and hopefully, effectiveness. This factory is the best quality and the most advanced of the day. It’s worth remembering. We’ll see if we can work together on design and pricing to keep our costs in line. It’s an ever-evolving process, and we try to build strong relationships, so that each party benefits and we can grow together.
And then we begin the long drive back to the hotel in Xiamen. One spends a lot of time in a van in China. There will be more windows to look out of, more things to wonder about and record in my mind and maybe, if I’m fast enough, on film.
He is the egg man….
[All images courtesy of Margo Tantau unless otherwise credited]
Hearing about Margo’s adventures on the road makes you realise how complex and exciting the home décor industry really is. If you would like to have people like Margo bringing your art to life, on anything from cushions to cupboards, sofas to vases, don’t miss our upcoming class ‘MATS: Creating Collections for Home Décor’. It starts on May 16 and this will be the last time we run the class this year. Margo will guide you through designing for the top five most popular materials for home décor – ceramics, wood, glass, fabric and wood/MDF. It is a fascinating class and pushes artists to produce some of the most commercially viable pieces we have seen emerge from any class anywhere. Book your spot here.
What is it really like to live a full time art career? The good, the bad and the ugly… and how to make it work
As someone who spent the first part of her career as an illustrator, paying the rent with the pictures she made, and the second part of her career representing professional artists, no-one knows better than Lilla how awesome, but also at times how difficult, a professional art career can be.
In today’s short video Lilla shares why she loves this career choice, what is tough about it, and how to keep the motivation up for the longterm.
Lilla would love to hear what you thought – why not join her on Periscope on Tuesdays to chat?
We hope this inspires you to stick with it!
We often get asked which of our courses are right for a particular artist, and it can be hard to choose from all the awesome courses on offer! So we have created a quick roadmap of where to begin! So watch Lilla give an overview of all of the awesome classes we offer. (And don’t miss the chance to access our classes at bargain prices in our Spring Sale, on until Friday April 8!)
We have also prepared a handy PDF to help you work out which class is for you. Download it here.
See you in class!
Today Lilla is sharing a few thoughts on how highly creative people’s brains work differently, and how to thrive with your creative mind:
Want to learn from Lilla? Our next class gives you that opportunity, AND you get to learn from top art director Margo Tantau. Join us for MATS Creating Collections for Home Decor, starting May 16, and give your career a huge boost.
Have you ever considered your portfolio to be like a visual resume? Here’s a couple of thoughts from Lilla on what to put in, and what to leave out, to make sure your portfolio tells the story of you and what you are capable of:
Feel like your portfolio is missing something? Join our Assignment Bootcamp class (starting on Monday) for a series of professional-level but fun assignments to strengthen your portfolio!
Find out more and book your spot here.
One of the questions Lilla is asked most often goes like this:
“How important is your portfolio? What needs to go in it to make it strong?”
The short answer is (1) Very and (2) A lot!
The detailed answer is in this video, where Lilla explains exactly what kind of art you should have in your portfolio and why.
If your portfolio is lacking in any area, get cracking with making great art to fill it!
If you want our help to do that, join our upcoming MATS Assignment Bootcamp class (starts March 7), where you will get five professional-level assignments over the next five months, to help you create some brilliant portfolio pieces to show to clients.
Lilla has created a series of positive affirmations to inspire and encourage you on your journey in art making. The series will be posted every Monday for the next six weeks to help jump start your week.
Have a great week and remember to stay tuned for next Monday’s Moment with Lilla!
Happy New Year! A new year brings an opportunity for a new start, goal setting and fresh determination. This message from Lilla will encourage you to take action to ensure that you grow your art career in 2016:
This is the Venn diagram Lilla refers to in the video:
If you want to kick off the year with a course to take your art to the next level, join us for MATS: Creating Collections for Home Decor, starting on January 25, where you will learn how to conceptualize and pitch products like these:
Selection of products from Lilla Rogers Studio artists created for Margo Tantau
Here are some of the kind words that have been shared by graduates of this course:
“This is a “Where Have You Been All My Life?” one of a kind, high quality, chock-full of greatness, must-do course.” – Judy Sorrels
“I am incredibly grateful that there are women like Lilla and Margo in the world who are genuinely interested in promoting other women and seeing them succeed by sharing their valuable knowledge. It is so gratifying and incredibly inspiring. There are few people willing to share their “gold”- their intellectual property – and it’s wonderful to have benefitted from this insight.” – Elaine Marie Kehew
A whirlwind of inspiration, creation, information and technical detail on the world of home decor.” – Suzy Naidoo
“If you a surface pattern designer wanting to design home decor ranges, this is THE course that you must do.” – Kate Mason
So what are you waiting for? Book your place now and get ready for class to begin on January 25!
Lilla often gets asked what makes an artist stand out. Her favorite answer is ‘What makes you weird makes your brand special!’ What? It’s OK to be quirky, an oddball, different from everyone else? YES! In fact, more than OK, it’s important, and it’s what will set you apart.
As a thank you for being part of our fantastic MATS community, in the week of Thanksgiving we will be offering a free video series on monetizing those quirks!
SIGN UP HERE to receive three videos, delivered to your inbox from November 23-25.
In this free series Lilla will share…
- Why it pays to be different/weird/quirky
- How to identify the differences that you can use to your advantage in your art career
- How to take those quirks and make them your signature
- How to attract mainstream clients with your quirks, not put them off
- Other tips on monetizing your quirks
One person who signs up for the video series will win a FREE place on MATS Part C: Creating Collections for Home Décor (starts January 25, 2016). In order to be in with a chance of winning you just need to register for the video series by November 22.
ADVANCE NOTICE OF CYBER MONDAY SALE
We are having a massive Cyber Monday sale on MATS courses from November 27-30, so stay tuned for more info and get ready to bag a bargain!
The MATS team