What we wished we knew or did before MATS

Thinking about enrolling in the upcoming MATS course? The happy happy artists sat down and came up with a list of things we would like to have known or considered before taking the course. 

  Emily's assignment for the Party Paper market focusing on a Ukrainian folk art theme.

Emily's assignment for the Party Paper market focusing on a Ukrainian folk art theme.

Emily says - Make Art That Sells is time consuming! If you have a day job, just be prepared to be spending a lot of your evenings working on your assignments. Between the drawing time, reading time, watching time and computer time, I would estimate I spent between 12-15 hours on it every week. The final assignment is due on Sundays, so there were many weekends where I was scrambling to finish in time. 

- I was shocked when I saw the cost of MATS. In fact, when I first saw how much it was, I cried. I didn't know how I could justify so much money when I wasn't really making any at the time. But now I realize it was an investment in my career. I got several SOLID portfolio pieces, gained boatloads of confidence and really refined my style throughout the ten weeks of class. 

Denise's final piece for MATS Part B - Scrapbooking - which was one of the weeks I was least interested in, however it ended up being one of my favorite weeks!

Denise says- I naively thought that taking this class would be my big break. Just because this class is taught by the one and only Lilla Rogers, the lady who knows everything there is to know about the business, doesn't mean it's going to be your ticket to success. What it does mean, is that you'll have the knowledge of the business and you'll learn what art directors are looking for. Now you will just have to use that information to make the best damn work you can!

- Make sure you take the time to actually do the mini assignments, even if you don't use what you sketch, it's nice to warm up and have these drawings in your sketchbook for future reference.

- Don't get upset if your work isn't critiqued. 100's of artists are going to be taking the class along with you and only 20 pieces will get the cut. Learn from Lilla's advice and make your next assignment even better.

- Make friends! Make friends with people who's work you connect with. You never know where it might take you (happy happy...!)

 Lauren's piece for the first assignment of MATS Part B, which was to create art for a Christmas card.

Lauren's piece for the first assignment of MATS Part B, which was to create art for a Christmas card.

Lauren says- I was inspired by all the great art, but I didn't realize how intimidated I would be by some of the other students (including my fellow Happy Happy Artists!). There are some very seasoned professionals in MATS, and you have to make sure you don't get too overwhelmed and start comparing yourself to them. From what I observed in the class, I also recommend that you don't go WAY out of your comfort zone technology wise and tell yourself "I've never touched a computer before, but I'm going to do all my assignments in Illustrator!" You will be distracted by technical hurdles when you should be focusing on what Lilla is trying to teach you in the grand scheme of things. It's like getting on Top Chef and then deciding "I'm known for cooking seafood, but I'm only going to bake desserts while I'm here". Have fun and experiment, but don't overwhelm yourself with too many new techniques or software goals- there will be plenty of time for that after the class is over.

This was my piece for scrapbooking in part B. That week, Lilla seemed to be looking for more hand drawn images of vintage cameras and typewriters, etc. This was not an area I felt capable of taking on, so I stuck with what I was most comfortable with...vector.

Jill says - Don't get overwhelmed by the mini assignment you will get on Mondays. It's meant for your own fun and exploration. Lots of your classmates will start posting their drawings and sketches and for me, it could really freeze me up, so to speak, so I tried to stay away from the facebook feed, otherwise, I felt like I couldn't come up with my own approach. And to echo Lauren, you will see some pretty awe-inspiring stuff. Use it to raise your own bar, but don't compare yourself. Also, don't be surprised if what you did for your mini, does not necessarily fit for the final assignment. It will always be time well spent, but not always applicable. I found that out in the children's book week.

- Don't set your sites on being included in the weekly critique. Easy for me to say now, but everyone does anyway. There is much to be learned whether you are picked or not. I found that by Part B. I was much more relaxed going in to the weekly reviews than I was in Part A, once I took the pressure off myself to make the cut.

Muffin says -  had a baby in the middle of the course and still managed to do every assignment except one! And she plans to do that before the course closes in May. You can see what she had to say about the course, over here. It just shows that you can do anything you put your mind to, even if it's extremely difficult!