I came across Lilla Rogers and her illustration studio quite by chance on social media. Some time in the Spring, several artists I admire and follow on Twitter, started chatting about a course they were doing, called ‘Make Art that Sells’. I was intrigued. Everyone wants to make ‘art that sells’, right? I do actually make art that sells! The thought of making even more art that sells even more successfully is never far from my mind, however, as making the art is so joyful, and selling the art is pretty cool. I never get over that incredible feeling when someone exchanges money for something I’ve made. It’s always as exciting as the first time.
So I decided to sign up for the next Autumn 2015 course. I had quickly realised that the course teacher, the awesome Lilla Rogers, is a wonderful force – inspirational, funny and very well respected. I knew she would teach me some new tricks and I felt sure I’d have a good giggle along the way. She’s so much fun! The course looks intense and action packed – right up my street. It was then that I spotted Lilla’s Global Talent Search – a competition in which the winner gets to be represented by Lilla, with prestigious jobs lined up straight away. The deadline for applying was less than a week away. I dismissed it, with a ‘I really don’t think I’m good enough to do this – Global Talent? That’s too huge‘ sense of doom and gloom.
The days ticked by. It gnawed at me. Why shouldn’t I enter? Why would I put myself down like that? Why would I not give myself a chance to take part? What would I say to someone else? That’s obvious! With others I try to be kind and helpful. I’d say – do it! I only ever dismiss… myself! Reader, I signed up before I could persuade myself out of it again!
It was very exciting. The first assignment came through, centred around designing some ‘sneakers’ for a fictional character called Antoinette. The brief came with heaps of information about Antoinette, and it was fun understanding her as a representation of a demographic – her likes, preferences, style, lifestyle. There were lots of delicious clues and hints. I very much enjoy the challenge of working to a brief – it’s like solving a puzzle.
And so to work. My first thoughts were: Antoinette is a girl with disposable income who enjoys and understands products. She curates her life in fine detail, and surrounds herself with beauty. So I decided to provide her with matching products to buy along with her new shoes. I doodled and scribbled and dreamt and researched. I wanted my design to be ornate, intelligent. Different. In my own style. The brief dictated that it had to include a word. I thought using Latin might be fun, so spent a lovely morning flicking through my Latin dictionary looking up words like ornate, adorn, lovely, art, culture, intelligent, charming. Two words felt possible: V e n u s t a (charming) and C u l t a (adorn) – I got onto Facebook and did a quick poll of my friends. Social media is so helpful sometimes. 28 out of 30 people liked Venusta – excellent! (I’d already chosen it myself!)
Venusta = charming in Latin. I discovered that the flower Venusta Pyrostegia is pollinated by hummingbirds. What a gift! That had to go in.
Slowly, with much sketching, doodling, thinking and playing, the design began to take shape. Because I work traditionally, and the final piece had to be 8 x 10 inches, everything was tiny. That was a challenge! I considered learning photoshop (I had 10 days – nothing like raw ambition) but dismissed that as crazy. I had a mini crisis – how could I achieve this at this size, on paper, traditionally, with no mistakes and one shot at the colours once I start painting? I worried that I’d been right – I wasn’t good enough to do this. It was quite the rollercoaster ride. Often though, from a crisis comes clarity. I woke up the next morning thinking ‘Why not? Why not me? Why can’t I do it?’
Back in the saddle I climbed! I re-read the assignment. Everything I had planned seemed to answer the brief. I took a deep breath, got out my sharpest pencil and tiniest paintbrush, and began to paint…
I’m pleased with the end result. For me, it feels like a triumph! I nearly didn’t enter, I got excited, I got scared. I almost gave up. I battled on. I did make a little mistake in the painting, but fixed it with something miles better. I had one shot at the colours, and loved every minute of them.
Around 1000 people entered Global Talent Search, and 50 amazing talents have got through to the next round. The level of creativity and sheer brilliance is so incredible to see. Good luck to everyone who got through! I’m so happy to have entered, and I will definitely try again next year. I’ve learnt so much from this one. I gave it everything! I’m looking forward to seeing what I can achieve after another year’s work and practice.
Thanks, Lilla Rogers, for setting up such a fun project. I’m glad I took part, and I’m looking forward to working on more assignments on your Make Art That Sells course in the Autumn.
More on Make Art That Sells
More on the Global Talent Search