Monday, April 12, 2010

Lilla Rogers

On Saturday, I attended a workshop at Lilla Rogers studio with my Smells Like Crayons crew and two other SCBWI illustrator groups.

Beautiful melon orange and lemon-lime hues greeted me along with the charming, and engaging Lilla.

There were paper lanterns hanging from the ceiling and samples of products fit neatly into racks. On an orange swivel chair was a pillow that had work on it by one of her artists. Fellow illustrator, Reine described the artist agent's studio as "her website in 3D." Yes! Lilla's space is one with the work she represents: bold, retro yet fresh, and joyful.

One of the topics Lilla covered was Tips for Success.

Her first tip was to have fun with art. She pointed to a rack containing product samples with her artists' work. "Does anybody look as if they were suffering?" she asked. "People want to buy art that is joyful."

She stressed, however, that much time needs to be allocated for making art as the market is highly competitive. Setting goals and timelines is imperative.

Rather than staying stuck by spreading ourselves too thin, Lilla advised us to instead focus energy on what matters. Our careers will be determined by where we put our energy. What do we spend our time doing? What would we rather do? What tasks do we procrastinate? Lilla suggested we make lists and have others do the things we'd rather not do or feel we are not good at. "Get a cleaning person" was one of her tips for success. When her children were babies and Lilla was starting out in the licensing business, she hired someone to help with her little ones. It's obvious that her planfulness and focus has paid off. She runs a highly successful agency and is sought out by 1000 artists per year.

To understand what qualities buyers tend toward in the licensing market, Lilla recommends watching trends. Keep your eye on retail catalogs. Ask yourself, "Can an in-house artist do this? Is it special enough that someone will pay for it?" Bright and bold work shows up well on screen and in catalogs and she told us "that's what's happening."

How does Lilla choose her artists? First of all, she must be excited about the art. She also wants to see trend savvy and marketability. Professionalism is important, too. The artist needs to communicate clearly and concisely via e-mail and should have a fast, fun website. The artist must be prolific. Lilla wants evidence that they will have the ability to evolve since a style trend will last only about 10 years.

Lilla is a role model and inspiration for creative women. She is a compelling presence in the industry. I find myself wanting to keep on paying attention.


  1. What a well written article on Sat.'s workshop Ann Marie! You captivated the experience perfectly. I have found my mind is swirling with the info. since Sat. becase Lilla graciously shared so much with us, and reading this helps mold the highlights for me!
    Thanks again for organizing such a great event. And I couldn't agree more in, "I find myself wanting to keep on paying attention" ...

  2. Lesley Breen WithrowApril 21, 2010 at 12:22 PM

    What a great way to capture that days experience, Anne Marie! Lilla offered us a wealth of information. It was such a joy to attend the workshop and it was nice to meet your SCBWI group as well. Hope to see you around. -Lesley

  3. I'm glad you all had a great time!