Usually, the first Tuesday of the month, here at Bird Meets Worm, a new superstar interview with a fellow creative posts. However, since my scheduled August interview became unexpectedly unavailable at the last moment, I am offering something a little bit different this month…on a Wednesday!
As you may have noted, if you follow Bird Meets Worm, I recently graduated from the inaugural Make Art That Sells e-course (Part A) by the fabulous Illustrator & Art Rep, Lilla Rogers. I’ve been meaning to write up a bit about my takeaways from the class, but have been busy in a flurry of new work as well as the development of a new self-promotional plan, all inspired by Lilla’s class. So this is a perfect opportunity to slow down and share!
It goes without saying that the MATS class offered a bounty of practical information about various art licensing markets, how to break into them as well as lots of career and life tips direct from Lilla. For those, you’ll have to take her class, but here are my 3 Mini Epiphanies that I walked away with:
|My studio with a bunch of Lilla's inked inspirational phrases hung up!|
1) Your Sketchbook Is a Treasure Chest! Keep It Filled Up!
Until a couple months ago, I did not keep a sketchbook. Not even when I was in art school did I keep a sketchbook. Why, you might wonder? Well, because, I was taught that sketchbooks were for sitting in cafes and going on location to draw the lively cast of characters and scenery around you…from life…realistically. And honestly, I don’t like drawing in public. I much prefer to be alone to draw (and to do most any other kind of artmaking too!) And I don’t really enjoy life drawing, especially realistically. It’s just not my thing. And this made me really self-conscious for a long time. So, I never really thought sketchbooks were for me. But this narrow presentation of sketchbooks cheated me from years of happy doodling and freethinking.
So it was timely that I recently took up a sketchbook to get out of an artistic rut at the same time I signed up for Lilla’s class. All the art assignments in the class began with a freeform sketching assignment that consistently lead to great results. Then I listened to all her artists speak about their processes, it became clear to me that the sketchbook is a place to be free, to be your artistic self, to do doodle whatever is in your imagination in whatever your style is yours. And that drawing 500 flowers in a freeform way in a sketchbook is a surefire way to make the most fabulous floral illustrations and designs.
So I started a list in the front of my sketchbook of subject matter I’d like to draw (robots, Mexican wrestling masks, cupcakes, etc.) and when I have a moment during the day, I pull my sketchbook out, pick a topic and fill a page with doodles. And then as time has passed, I now have a treasure chest of artwork with which to compose illustrations and design repeat patterns. So fabulous! What a confidence boost! What a way to welcome and nurture your artistic self! I LOVE my sketchbook!
|NEW woodland critter image series in-progress.|
2) Good-bye, Good Ole Boys! It’s a Girl’s World Now!
When I was majoring in Illustration in art school back in the day, I found myself pressed up against the edges of what I call the Good Ole Boys illustration world. That is to say that the artwork that was held up and revered consisted primarily of illustrations that followed in the tradition of illustration’s historical roots. I’m talking about work heavily influence by the likes of Howard Pyle, Norman Rockwell, Dana Gibson as well as more modern icons like Brad Holland and C.F. Payne, etc. The Society of Illustrators in NY are the end-all-be-all of illustration greatness. Needless to say I didn’t really fit in. And if you were an illustrator who didn’t really fit in, then doing editorial/advertising work for major newspapers, magazines and brands didn’t appear to be your future. So what was left?
Naturally, I pursued children’s publishing because it is awesome and quirky and fun and there is room enough for every style under the sun. But what it has taken me nearly 11 years to figure out is there is so much more out there for freelance illustrators like me!! Lilla cemented this notion and exposed the range of options available, how they overlap and how to break in. I think that the reason art licensing, illustrated surface design and decorative imagery for markets like bolt fabric, home décor and gift were not truly presented to me in art school is that the rise of these markets and the opportunities in them is linked to the rise of the female illustrator and her sensibilities as both a creator and a consumer. Lilla certainly spoke to her individual experiences as a female illustrator as well as to the rise of the independent female buyer and how these cultural shifts have opened the doors for artists like myself. It is exciting! And hearing these things from Lilla is liberating! I think the generation of female illustrators who work commercially, embrace the DIY craft marketplace and stay-home with our kids, all at the same time, are a modern movement unto ourselves and I’m proud to be part of it.
|NEW gessoed Super Hoot canvases ready for paint & collage!|
3) Art Is Life and Life Is Art. Live It!
Like my fellow professional artists, illustrators and designers, I have a strong work ethic. I can enter my studio, sit down, get to work and really produce. However, doing so always involves sidestepping all the trappings of a given day, like your kiddos, the internet, that stack of pleasure reading and catalogues, your own exhaustion, that itch to move; it can really derail your butt-in-chair efforts. But Lilla provided a powerful reminder that all these trappings feed the creative self and so are necessary, even though, there must be a balance between giving in and maintaining that strong work ethic.
It can be easy to forget that if you take some time (especially when it seems like there is none to be had!) to take a nap or go for a run or pop into a yoga class, it can actually give you the tools you need to relax, be energized, think, be creative and produce. It can actually help you maximize your time.
And leisure activities, like reading that stack of Land of Nod and West Elm catalogues or that new bestselling novel or bookmarking your favorite items on Etsy or watching the latest summer blockbuster movie, actually immerses you in the culture you are making art for and thus puts you in touch with your greater audience. Those catalogues, Etsy favorites and popular culture entertainment are essentially your own personal trend reports that can in turn inform your artmaking. Art is life and life is art. So live it up and get inspired!
|NEW playground image in-progress inspired by Lilla's talent search assignment.|
I could fill endless pages writing about my positive experiences in Lilla Rogers MATS e-course (Part A), but there is only so much time and space in the day, so I hope that the tidbits I chose to share are helpful and inspiring. I’m all signed up to take the MATS e-course (Part B) this fall, so I’m sure you’ll be hearing and seeing more from me as the leaves begin to change colors.
In the meantime, stay tuned for more art and inspiration here on Bird Meets Worm. We will be returning to our usual monthly interview next month, scheduled to post on Tuesday, September 3rd. I’ve got a fabulous illustrator all lined up and am super excited. I’ll give you a hint! She was part of the recent SCBWI-LA annual conference faculty and she is better known as Chicken Girl!