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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.

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.

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.

Top tips for exhibiting at a trade show for the first time with MATS Alumna Bryony Clarkson


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 a special guest post from MATS alumna Bryony Clarkson who recently exhibited at Surtex with the Art Collective she is part of called Finch & Foxglove. Bryony is sharing her review and some top tips! Bryony has taken MATS A and B, Home Décor, Illustrating Children’s Books, Bootcamp and attended the MATS Global Gathering.

 

About Bryony: I live and work in Oxford, England, but also spend a lot of time in Seattle, USA. My studio companion is a 3-year old Wheaten terrier called Crumble. I have three children, so life is busy! When I’m not drawing, I love to read, walk or run with my dog and travel whenever and wherever I can. I trained at the Royal College for Art in London, graduating in 1996 with a masters degree in Embroidered Textile Design. I went on to design textiles for many companies, both interior and fashion, as well as producing my own range of one-off textile pieces. I took a career break when my children were born and started designing again in 2011, with a focus on paper and digital pieces for Surface Design.

How much preparation did it require?

I have been making art for years, but in terms of specific show preparation, I started designing with the Surtex Show specifically in mind in September 2016 – nine months before the show. I am a member of the Finch & Foxglove Art Collective, and we map out a schedule for the months leading up to the show, so that we don’t get too overwhelmed, or have tasks left to the last minute. I can’t stress enough how super-helpful that planning was.
How did the show go? Did you get out of it what you hoped you would? Any successes you can share?
The show was a great success! It was my first time exhibiting (I have been with Finch & Foxglove for two years but I couldn’t show in 2016, due to my daughters ill health) and it was a roller-coaster ride of an experience. Our booth was really busy at times and I connected with some of my dream companies, as well as making lots of new contacts. I received alot of interest in my work and there are some exciting projects in the pipeline. Straight after the show, I licensed some designs, as a direct result of a show contact, to a large stationery and greetings company.
Finch & Foxglove at Surtex

Who did you meet – other exhibitors / visitors / brands?

I met two of my fellow artists from Finch & Foxglove for the first time: Sharon Montgomery and Laurence Lavalee. We ‘talk’ most days on Facebook, so it was amazing to meet them both in person, as well as getting to hang out with members of the group that I have met before. I met lots of other artists – many of whom I already know through Instagram, and it was great to connect with a wider circle of creatives.
 
Visitors to the booth could be broadly divided out into art directors and buyers, and other artists or those coming to walk the show. There were some really big-ticket companies that came to talk to us, mostly from the USA and Canada.
What will you do differently next time, will there be a next time?
I’ve already committed to showing with the Finch girls next year! We are also talking about whether there are other trade shows that we might want to do.
One of the huge take-aways from the show for me was that it was a great opportunity to listen to what buyers needs are. This is invaluable information and will help me to plan my future work. It was interesting to hear comments like “I love this, but we couldn’t use it” or “I’d need to see that in a different colour palette for my clients”. These aren’t negatives, they are free tutorials! I noted down much of this information so that I had it for reference after the show. Next time, I will specifically plan my Surtex portfolio with this in mind.
 
How do you follow up with potential opportunities after the show?
Quickly! I responded to the companies who showed most interest two days after Surtex had finished. The others I followed up on during the following week. We had made thorough notes on what each potential client wanted to see, so it was then easy to follow up via email, sending low res images of the work that they liked.
Any tips for surviving and thriving on the day itself?
Don’t let the nerves take over! Selling your artwork can feel very personal, but you are your own best advocate. Just chat with everyone who stops by the booth. As conversation unfolds, you can get a good feel of what each person is looking for. The more you chat, the more you learn!
And get in a business frame of mind. Remember that you have a fantastic window of opportunity to show and sell work to top retailers and manufacturers – it’s very different from being in the studio, so be ready to step up to that role.

What are your 3-5 top tips for exhibiting at a show for the first time?

  • Get organised. Make a timetable to cover the preceding few months, working out when you plan to have each item ready, and stick to it as closely as you can, to avoid last minute panics!
  • Show work you are proud to stand in front of. You will be talking about that work A LOT, so really show the things that you love. Be brutal when you make a final edit of your designs before the show, and take out anything that isn’t your best. Quality is more important than quantity.
  • Connect with other artists who are showing if possible (through the MATS Facebook pages, Instagram etc) – I found this to be a welcoming and generous world, where more experienced artists were very happy to share information and answer questions.

Now the show is over, what’s next?

Oh wow, lots….! The post show time is as busy as the pre-show, with follow up. Workwise, I am going back to the sketch book a lot, and using this a time for experimentation and generating new ideas. I use the Summer as time for a more relaxed pace of working and letting new ideas germinate. I also need to spend some time with my rather neglected family!

What other trade shows would you like to exhibit at and why?

As a group, we are considering Blueprint, Printsource, Heimtextil and Premier Vision – no decisions yet though, except a repeat showing at Surtex next year.
How did MATS courses help you?
MATS got me into the habit of making new art every day (even if only a 10-minute sketch) and got me back into being absorbed in the world of art. I also learned how to keep true to my own style, but to ensure that I was making art that is desirable and useable by art directors. I learned fun new ways to create colour palettes, how to use icons to my advantage in my work, how to design and template for product, how to develop characters and SO much more! And importantly, I met my fellow Finch & Foxglove artists at the Global Art Gathering.
Did you show any of your MATS assignments? 
I did my MATS classes quite a long time ago (I was in the very first MATS A and B), so I didn’t actually show much from that time, as I had a ton of new work to show. My vicuna is a particular favourite that came from MATS Bootcamp and the Lumberjack icons piece (also shown above). And everything I do now is influenced by the ton of information that I got from the courses.
See more work here: Website | Instagram | Finch & Foxglove website
Reine from Lilla Rogers Studio interviewed Finch & Foxglove and others from Surtex. Click here if you missed that great feature!
Lilla also shares her top tips for Preparing for a Trade Show here

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

Alumni success ‘spotlight’ interview with Nathalie Taylor


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We are so proud of our Make Art That Sells Alumni, that we are pleased to continue a series of spotlight interviews showcasing their successes and artwork. We also ask 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 Nathalie Taylor. Nathalie has taken MATS A/B, Assignment Bootcamp and our Creating Collection for Home Décor.

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

I always liked to draw. As a child, with my three brothers, I was constantly tinkering something, our house was always upside down filled with one or another’s artistic project! My mother was an artist and my father a press photographer.

I studied industrial design and earned a degree in graphic design. I worked in this area for almost 25 years, but something was missing, I didn’t have fun, worse than that, I was completely bored and frustrated. I ended up losing confidence and my creative process completely dried out. I had become incapable of drawing or creating. I dropped out everything to become a Feldenkrais practitioner (which I recommend to all, but that’s another topic!). About six months in this training I slowly began to draw again just for fun and by pure luck I met the work of Helen Dardik … I was blown away because I did not know you could do that to earn a living. In trying to find out more about Helen, I found a MATS class that happened to be starting, so I dived in and I never looked back. I had my first contracts pretty quickly.

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

Very simple things: being with my family and friends, take a long walk in the woods, cats, birds, rainbows, the change of seasons… chocolate. I like a good laugh and do unexpected things.

From ‘Glass’ week in the MATS: Creating Collections for Home Decor class.

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

I like several markets. In facts it’s almost a problem, because, I cannot make up my mind! Above all, I love anything that allows fantasy and use of bright and joyful colors.

What are you working on currently?

I am currently working on a children’s songbook project.

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

I am learning to work hard and trust myself, to cut work in small bite and not be afraid. I know now that I’m at my very best when I’m playful, lighthearted and feel totally free to do whatever pleases me without thinking to much about end results. I learned to stop trying to control everything, I now have faith that the creative process will come up with a solution, this way I’m more confident about the choices I make and the work unfold before my eye as if by magic!

How have the classes helped your artwork evolve /grow?

It’s quite magical, I didn’t know I could do what I did in class. Really, I had absolutely no idea. There is a clear bold line in my portfolio : before and after MATS. It’s a complete new world for me. I surprised myself!

Lilla is very inspiring. I admire her great ability to make the best out of myself and my classmates, I find this absolutely magical from a person I’ve actually never met !

I hoped to take the plunge in illustration for a very long time. Many years back, I followed 450 hours training in advertising illustration. The training was well designed to show us different mediums: pen, watercolor, oil, dry brush, pastel, computer drawing, etc. We also worked with a dozen of qualified professional illustrators who taught us their respective techniquel. I was very good and everything worked well for me, but at this time, I did not manage to make the transition to become an illustrator. I knew how to draw, but I had no idea what to do to have jobs. I didn’t know how to structure my work, I was not told about making art that sells, how to make contact with art directors or agencies… Many things were missing.

Lilla’s classes are not only well structured to cover all markets, Lilla herself is an outstanding motivator! I think most of us already have quite a bit of talent to draw, it’s not a technical matter. We especially need encouragement, we need to understand the market, we need to learn to have fun at what we do and above all we need the energy of the group! No one before Lilla had been able to do that for me.

Any aha moments during MATS you would like to share?

Yes, I don’t know how to explain this but, I had a 25 years background in corporate graphic design which was very rigid, Cartesian and colorless. I learned to be more relaxed in my drawing, embraced imperfection and introduce textures, naivety and color into my work.

Illustrations I made for a new children book to be released next October by Auzou publisher

What are your key successes since taking a MATS class?

I made 6 facial tissue box designs for Canadian food retailer Metro. Two of those designs were chosen by the art director directly from the gallery of my very first MATS class. I had several contracts with Bayard Press kids monthly magazines: Chirp and ChickaDee. I also had 3 children’s book project from one particular illustration I made in editorial week in MATS B (Montréal) : a scrapbook for Auzou French publisher; an album published last January by Québec Amérique; and a booklet for a public library of the City of Montreal. I also worked on labels for a honey producer and had a mini textile collection for a headband manufacturer.

Illustrations I made for a new children book to be released next October by Auzou publisher

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

It’s a celebration of creativity, like vitamins for your creative process! It’s a secure place if you are shy about showing your creativity like I was. The community is very supportive and encouraging. I can describe my personal experience with MATS classes as profound life-changing.

What is your dream gig for your artwork?

I would very much love having my own home decor collection.

See more work here: Website | Instagram

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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 Lisa Baudry


alumni-success-04

We are so proud of our Make Art That Sells Alumni, that we are pleased to continue a series of spotlight interviews showcasing their successes and artwork. We also ask 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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Lisa_Baudry_PortraitToday, we have an interview with Lisa Baudry. Lisa has taken MATS A, B and Assignment Boocamp

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

I grew up in an environment where making things was the norm and I did alot of it as a child. If Dad needed something around the farm and he could make it, he would. He had a big welding workshop to do this and Mum sewed our clothes. My first introduction to formal art and design training was going to design school in Auckland, New Zealand in the early 1990s.

Lisa_Baudry_Coffee

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

Creating is full of joyful moments for me. I love sewing and making clothes for my daughter. I love creating portraits…for some reason the variety in peoples appearance, dress sense and hairstyles fascinate me. The challenge of a design brief is still a buzz for me and I love to experiment with new techniques.

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

I’m still feeling my way, but so far I’ve had opportunities in the Wall Art market and I hope to find my way into many others! I’m very drawn to Home Decor and I’m loving creating art for that market.

What are you working on currently?
A series of botanical themed art prints.

Lisa_Baudry_Botanical_Vase

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

I have learnt sooooooo much. To stay positive. To use my own taste level to critique my work. The mantra “Would I buy that?” has helped me a lot and keeps me pushing my work in the right direction.

How have the classes helped your artwork evolve /grow?

The course gave me tools and techniques as to how to develop a piece of art, something that had been missing from my design education! I used to try and resolve a finished composition straight away. Lilla’s courses taught me to create icons and elements which I could then select and use to compose with. This has given me a much wider scope and depth to my work.

Lisa_Baudry_Crayfish copy

Any aha moments during MATS you would like to share?

When I had to prioritise my artwork over other things, I had a psychological breakthrough. I was one of those people who would, without thinking put others needs in front of my own. Now if I take care of my need to create, my well-being improves and I can be the balanced, grounded and caring person I want to be.

What are your key successes since taking a MATS class?

I have been selling some giclee prints through a local art print shop, Endemic World. The artwork that I am selling was developed during the MATS Assignment Bootcamp.

LISA_BAUDRY_PORTRAITS2
How would you describe taking a MATS class to a fellow artist looking to develop their art
Intense and challenging which equals massive growth and learning.
 
What is your dream gig for your artwork?
I have a few! Anthropologie Ceramics.Posters with Fine Little Day. A Fabric Collection with Marimekko
See more of Lisa’s work here: Website | Instagram | Facebook

 

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Would you like to experience the Make Art That Sells class 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!

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Alumni success ‘spotlight’ interview with Stephanie Hofmann


alumni-success-04

We are so proud of our Make Art That Sells Alumni, that we are pleased to continue a series of spotlight interviews showcasing their successes and artwork. We also ask 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 alumni Stephanie Hofmann. Stephanie has taken MATS A, B, Bootcamp and entered the Global Talent Search.

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

I  studied graphic design and worked as a designer for 15 years whilst
gradually getting into surface pattern design as a side line.

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

I love illustrations that are quirky and tell a story. If I have a great idea I get super excited and can’t wait to get it realised into a finished piece.

Druck

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

My favourite market is the editorial market. I love coming up with concepts and visual stories around editorial briefs.

What are you working on currently?

I have just finished some editorial assignments for 2 German magazines, which will be in the shops in May, which I am very happy about and I am working on surface patterns for Surtex.

Druck

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

Through taking MATS I have learnt about the different markets and what they involve. Being able to try all of them out made me see that I could do other stuff than just surface design. 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.

How have the classes helped your artwork evolve /grow?

The MATS community is very generous and helpful with feedback and I feel humbled by the amazing artists I have met. When I started MATS I felt a bit stuck in my work and the courses have helped me to feel more confident and really excited about my work.

Druck

Any aha moments during MATS you would like to share?

Through MATS I have become freer in my work and have discovered that there are so many different kinds of markets to explore and that I was capable of applying myself to all of them. Completing MATS A and B and doing the Global Talent Search last year gave me the confidence to quit my part time graphic design job and try my luck at illustrating full time.

What are your key successes since taking a MATS class?

I have done work for several online and print magazines and  I am en route to being able to support myself full time with a combination of editorial jobs and selling surface pattern designs.

GTS final ohne rand

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

Taking a MATS class will help you grow artistically whilst teaching you everything you need to know to feel confident when taking on professional assignments. You will grow at high speed in a safe and positive environment.

What is your dream gig for your artwork?

Any gig that I am getting feels like a dream gig at the moment, as I am just so happy that I can do what I love and support myself!

party paperpink

See more of Stephanie’s work here: Website | Instagram

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Would you like to experience the Make Art That Sells class 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!

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Alumni success ‘spotlight’ interview with Maria Parrish


alumni-success-04

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

***

Maria_Parrish_logo_1Today, we have an interview with Maria Parrish. Maria has taken MATS A and Bootcamp.

Tell us a little about how you got started in art and design
Hello, My name is Maria Parrish and I’m from Guatemala living the San Francisco Bay Area. I always knew I wanted to be a creative person of some sort. When it came to college my parents told me I had to learn “computers” and I wasn’t fond of that so to please them I ended up taking a Photoshop class, that counts as “computers” right? I loved it so much that I became a graphic designer and did it for many years.

I worked at an arts and crafts studio designing how-to books but then felt like something was missing. I no longer wanted to design books I wanted to be the artist in those books.

I became a mom and stayed home and started doodling again and taught myself illustrator. I did art for my kid such as invitations, coloring pages, that sort of thing. I started to build my portfolio but wanted to take it to the next level, after all I never studied to be an illustrator.

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Lilla always says “People buy your joy.” What brings you joy?’
My kids bring me joy! I like to draw for them! But definitely color, lots and lots of colors!

Which is your favorite market(s) to design for and why?
Children’s books and fabrics are my favorites because I get to design for my kids. Designing for children is always new and exciting!

Print

What are you working on currently?
Quinceañera gift bags, and preparing my portfolio for Surtex

What are some of the key things you have learnt from the MATS experience?
To love my quirks because that makes me unique. Not to be afraid of experimenting and try new things. Sometimes I get stuck on a color scheme or theme. Mats definitely helped me venture out of my comfort zone.

How have the classes helped your artwork evolve /grow?
Let me start with a quote: “If you want something you never had before you gotta do something you never done before” Started designing with real projects in mind. I was no longer designing for the imaginary client but for the potential one. Lilla always provided new projects I’ve never done before and my art became better for it!

Any aha moments during MATS you would like to share?
When I became a GTS semifinalist, and realized, hey I’m good enough to do this!

WhoooLovesBabySpread

What are your key successes since taking a MATS class?
I was a finalist for Mats global art gathering poster design. It was such a fun experience and helped me grow as a designer. I also found an agency and had an opportunity to show my work at different exhibits like Surtex.

How would you describe taking a MATS class to a fellow artist?
It’s like following a workout regimen for your creativity! No matter what level you’re at you can find inspiration, support, and encouragement in the Mats community. You will grow and succeed I guarantee it!

What is your dream gig for your artwork?
I would like to continue doing children’s art and would like to see it licensed on my products world-wide. I want to walk into as store and say “I made that”!

Untitled-2

See more of Maria’s work here: Website | Facebook

***

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Would you like to experience the Make Art That Sells class 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!

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Alumni success ‘spotlight’ interview with Natalie Zart


alumni-success-04

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

***

Natalie Zart profile picToday, we have an interview with Natalie Zart. Natalie has taken MATS B and Assignment Bootcamp.

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

Both of my parents are artists and so I grew up surrounded by tubes of paint, regularly went to my dad’s exhibitions and all art hanging on our home walls (and standing around) was by my parents. On top of that, my grandmother was a graphic designer, so no matter who I spent my childhood moments with, I either had scissors, pencils or a brush in my hand and was creating something.

I’ve always perceived art just as a fun activity until sometime after my high school graduation I realised I actually want to make a living from it. I’m still not quite ‘there’ yet, but this year I’m closer to that dream than ever before.

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

That moment when I am just about to finish a piece I’ve been working on is a pure moment of happiness for me. It’s pretty normal for me to do a happy dance around my table when I’m about to do the last strokes with a brush/ on my tablet. I can’t resist but to immediately send photos of my new piece to my family and to my boyfriend, sharing my excitement with them.

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

I’ve always loved paper and have been working with paper most of my life. Later on, I realised I really like the idea of seeing my designs on home items, particularly the idea of having a sofa with my design on it still attracts me like a magnet. In the last years, I’ve been opening my horizons to the textile market, whilst paper continues to be my ‘safest ground’.

Natalie Zart work image 3

What are you working on currently?

Self-paced MATS B course, Assignment Bootcamp course, school projects (I attend a graphic design school in the evenings), various decorations for the wedding of my boyfriends’ sister and on top of that, I’m also pitching my work to various companies/ bloggers which I’d love to work with. A pretty busy schedule, but I’m loving every bit of it.

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

Pitch, pitch, pitch. It’s never been more clear to me that I must knock on the doors of companies I want to work with. I no longer wait for people to find me, which was the case for a long time in the past. I’m now much more proactive and chase that dream of mine.

Natalie Zart work image 1

How have the classes helped your artwork evolve /grow?

I have learned how to work more effectively, in a way that feels fun and truly me. I now feel much more ready to work on paid projects, whilst having my own voice and style.

Any aha moments during MATS you would like to share?

You always have to have fun working on your art, there is absolutely no need to stress about it, because if you do, there is a big chance the piece will show that.

Natalie Zart work image 2

What are your key successes since taking a MATS class?

I’m just about to sign an agreement with one of my dream customers. I’m so excited about it that I can hardly talk about it without my heart starting to race. I absolutely cannot wait to have the deal closed and to start working on it.

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

I’ve been thinking of taking MATS classes for over a year. For me, it was a relatively big investment and so I first watched many videos by Lilla, read lots of her blog posts, watched one round of Global Talent Search take place, I carefully observed which artists are taking part and how their art looks like and after a year, I finally signed up for Assignment Bootcamp. Only one month after starting Assignment Bootcamp, I added MATS B class on top.

Now I know there was no need for me to wait all that time. I simply should have taken the leap before. I don’t regret waiting, but I would advise fellow artists to take the course right away if they are considering it.

I feel like both of the classes were exactly the next step I needed in my career. I have drawn for years on my own, but MATS classes give me that professional advice I simply could not figure out on my own.
Natalie Zart work image 4

What is your dream gig for your artwork?

I have a few, but somewhere very high on my dream list is having my own fabric collections printed and having a custom made dress sewn. I recently found out that a friend of mine sews dresses as a hobby, which I thought was a clear sign! I am definitely on the right path and just need to put the little pieces of my dream together.

See more of Natalie’s work here: Website | Facebook | Instagram

***

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Would you like to experience the Make Art That Sells class 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!

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