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Make Art That Sells | Denise’s Custom Illustration

by Denise Ann Holmes

August 27, 2013
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Denise Ann Holmes is one of our favorite illustrators. I was very interested to see her posts about the illustration class she recently took, and thought you might be, too! -Arianne

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I recently completed Lilla Roger’s Make Art That Sells Course Part A and let me tell you, I am still recovering! I signed up for Lilla’s 5 week course for one reason: Lilla Rogers. Ever since I was able to call myself a freelance illustrator, it has been my goal to acquire artist representation for my work. More specifically… representation by Lilla Rogers.

If you are familiar with the illustration world then you have heard the name Lilla Rogers. Lilla is one of the top agents in the industry. As an illustrator herself, this lady knows the business like no other. I can vouch for that after participating in Part A.

When I saw that Lilla and Beth Kempton of Do What You Love were putting together an online course, I knew I had to take it. Why? Well, for one, it is taught by the leading lady of the illustration industry and she knows a thing or two about making art that sells! Two, I have an obsession with taking online classes. Three, I needed to learn more about the markets that exist for my work in order to keep my illustration career growing. And last, for the tiny chance that Lilla Rogers would see my work. (Yeah, I know, a girl can dream, right?)

Denise Holmes' illustration

I was not nervous about the class until the first day. 500 students showed up on the private Facebook group introducing themselves and their websites. I was blown away by the sheer number of amazing and creative artists that would be learning alongside me. It was intimidating!

MATS Part A took an in-depth look at five different markets – Bolt Fabric, Home Décor, Children’s Picture Books, Wall Art and the Gift Market. Each week started off with sketching out a mini assignment that prepared us for the main homework task. Along with the assignments, Lilla posted briefs for each of the markets that explained the industry and what the manufacturers and buyers were looking for. We were given a lot of inspirational imagery, interviews with artists, and informative videos of Lilla critiquing a handful of students’ work.

And because I love bullet points, here are a few things about MATS:

Reasons to take the class:

  • It is taught by Lilla Rogers.
  • It was very well planned – packed to the brim with great information!
  • You will learn more about the industry from someone who KNOWS the industry.
  • You get to meet other illustrators and artists.
  • You will push yourself and your art work more than you probably have in the past year.
  • Lilla’s advice and feedback during the critiques will help you to understand what you need to work on.

 Things that might make you nervous about taking the class:

  • You think it is probably repeat information? I’d heard some things before, but 90% of the information that was taught I either did not know or was glad to have a refresher on.
  • Does the class require a high level of commitment? Yep, you will want to set aside lots and lots of time to read the daily posts and work on your assignments. This is what you are paying the big bucks for, so don’t waste it.
  • Do I have the time? Probably not. I didn’t. However, it’s well worth it to make the time. Hire a babysitter. Clear your schedule before the class starts. Don’t take on too many freelance projects during the 5 weeks. Relax. Work at night after everyone goes to bed. Sneak out for an hour and work at a coffee shop. You can find the time!
  • Creating work in markets you have never created work for? Turns out I am terrible at Wall Art. Luckily, I have the resources to work on it now.

 What surprised me about MATS Part A?

  • The amazing amount of work I was able to produce in 5 weeks. Yep, it is all going in my portfolio!
  • The information about the markets I can now use to MAKE ART THAT SELLS!
  • Getting critiqued by Lilla! She would pick about 30 students each week to critique. Some people were frustrated when they weren’t selected but others were able to take her advice from the critiques to make their own work better.
  • The enthusiasm everyone had during the 5 weeks. It makes you really happy and inspired!

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It is safe to say that I feel more confident about my work after taking this class. I have the tools and resources to create illustrations for the different markets covered in Part A. This was the perfect class to get my butt in gear, get me out of my comfort zone and to create some new pieces of work. Now, who is joining me for Part B?

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