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Assignment Bootcamp 2018

1.3 The January Assignment

Welcome back! How was your mini? Did you have some fun? Did you make a few pieces you like? What did you learn? Jot down some notes for what to do and not do next time. 

And now, for the big reveal. Ta-da! Your assignment is…

Art for a Children’s Non-fiction book: WHAT’S IN HER BAG?

Download your assignment here. 


And a special bonus for you…

Those of you who have taken my courses know that I teach in a holistic approach. That means that an art career is not just about technique, markets, style, promotions. It must also address the emotional landscape. We creative people are more emotionally sensitive, more tuned in to our feelings. With that in mind, I’ve created this exercise for you.  

I hope you’ll take a moment to reflect upon these questions each week and make some notes in your journal.  

  • Regarding the assignment, I am anxious about… 
  • This is because my belief is… 
  • What can calm me down is… 
  • Regarding the Assignment, I am excited about… 
  • This is because… 

Sometimes, when I was a working illustrator, I would convert my anxiety into excitement, because the feelings were similar. I’d be curious to hear what you do. 


  • Regarding the assignment, I am anxious about finishing in time.  
  • This is because my belief is that I am overwhelmed with all I have to do this week. 
  • What can calm me down is to write out a schedule of when I’ll work on the assignment. 
  • Regarding the assignment, I am excited about trying out my new paint markers 
  • This is because I love trying out new materials and seeing what they do. 

Here are some suggestions of things that might calm you… 

  • Writing out your concerns 
  • Dancing to music 
  • Making plenty of time to draw the Minis 
  • Repeating supportive affirmations like “I like to make art and it’s easy for me” 
  • Talking it through with a friend 
  • Meditating on the Assignment 
  • Asking a question in the Facebook group 
  • Making a nice cup of coffee or tea 
  • Talking a walk 

See you next week for Margo’s January surprise! 

With great affection, 



1.2 Using the class galleries

Each month of class you will have the opportunity to share your work with the world via our monthly online class galleries which will be published on This is optional but we really encourage you to give yourself this goal each month.

This is why it is good for you:

  1. It gives you a hard deadline to complete the assignment. Deadlines are your best friend.
  2. You have the opportunity to show off your work to your fellow students.
  3. Seeing how others handled the assignment is exciting, plus it stretches your mind. You’ll see things you may not have thought of, such as ways to present your work, or images to draw, etc.
  4. Since the gallery is public, much attention will be drawn to it. Expect art directors to be viewing it in hopes of discovering a great piece to license or an artist to work with! In the past students have actually won work as a direct result of having been spotted in the Bootcamp Galleries, so it’s really worth making the effort and putting yourself out there.

Please make sure you have read all the following instructions so you are quite clear about what to do with your piece each month:

For details of WHAT to submit:

Look out for your first Assignment, which will be released next Monday (and on the second Monday of each subsequent month for future Assignments)

For details of WHEN to submit your work:

See the Class Schedule

For details of HOW to submit your work:

See the Assignments page

For details of WHERE to submit your work:

See the Class Galleries page

1.1 The January Mini


And we’re off! Your first Mini topic is… 


Have you ever noticed all the stuff in our lives? Of course you have. You’re very visual. 

Our STUFF says so much about who we are. 


For your very first Mini Assignment, dump out your bag, purse, or pocket. Draw and/or paint some of the things you find. 

I’ve drawn my cell phone: 


What makes this mini assignment so interesting is that I want YOU to discover more about you while drawing fun, easy things.  

TIP: Try a few different papers to see what you like. I used Yupo paper and Strathmore Bristol paper.  

First, I drew my glasses. See how crappy the drawing of the glasses are in the photo below? Good! Just a warm up, no big deal. Then I had fun drawing the Kind bar in pencil and then filling in with Prismacolor markers. The Bristol paper took the markers really well. They showed up nice and saturated. You will get streaks, but that’s cool. 

Next up, I used Yupo paper which is a synthetic paper. It’s like formica—really smooth which I love. It takes pencil really well. The marker colors didn’t show up as rich and had a watercolor pooling effect. I went on top of the almonds with pencil. 

Now it’s your turn! If you’re looking for a new material, try MARKERS this month. 

TIP: The more you connect with—and respect—your own mind, the more your own unique style emerges. That is your power. Your authenticity is what will make you stand out in the marketplace. What makes you authentically stand out in the market place will make you successful. I’ll say that again. What makes you authentically stand out in the market place will make you successful.  

And yes, you are different. That’s because everyone is different. Everyone has their own passions and preferences, heredity and DNA, environment and stories. Let’s discover what yours are. All you have to do is look around for what you like this week and you will discover insights about your uniqueness. 

Any medium works just fine. Try markers this month. But you can use anything: watercolor, paint, ink, pencil, pastel, gouache—whatever you like. Digital is fine, too. Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, iPad Pro?  Yes. Any technique, medium, and style will work well with this subject matter. It’s your career, your portfolio. You’re the artist!  


As an agent, I definitely prefer to take on artists that can draw different things. 

What is a MINI?  

Minis are about simple sketching. Don’t stress over it. Here’s an example of some sketches beautifully done by our artist Kate Mason: 

Art by Kate Mason 

You can see the huge variety Kate has created even within these simple sketches. It is from these acorns that mighty art oaks grow, so draw, draw, draw! 

And you never know where art-play is going to take you. I’ve gotten a craft jewelry line and home décor line from my art-play. You can read about my journey to my jewelry craft line in my book, “I Just Like to Make Things” (Quarry).

A few reminders 

  •  You’ll be scanning these in later this month for use in the big assignment so bear in mind that they need to fit onto your scanner.  
  •  Try not to think about the end use at this point. Just have fun. Let your passion be your guide. This course is for YOU!  
  •  Remember to make each drawing separate so that you can select your favorites to use for the big assignment, especially if you work on the computer. You are building a library of icons (small drawings) to use in your artwork. It’s all about icons! 
  •  Don’t make this harder than it is. It really is as easy as it sounds. Try drawing at a café or at the dinner table. Make it fun! Smile. 
  • This is a great project for a sketchbook. Or gather 30 sheets of printer paper and go nuts on them. Lots of cheap paper is a great for loosening up.  
  • Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Everyone is at her or his own point on the path. Where you are is perfect! Every great artist started at the beginning. 
  • Feel free to share your sketches in the Facebook group if you want to. 

Remember, gathering reference should be second priority (and should only take you a minute with this mini anyway!) First priority is to spend time actually drawing and sketching the items. I suggest no more that one hour tops for gathering reference. Part of being a professional is knowing how use your time wisely. 

Dive in any way you’re inspired. As always, do it your way! You can riff off of this theme and broaden it however you like. Play with this. Draw what you love. It’s YOUR portfolio! 

And if you are feeling stuck, try my drawing warm up play tips below… 


January drawing warm up play tips

  • Each month I’m going to give you some special warm up play tips to explore various aspects of your own art-making temperament. 
  • This month I’d love you to explore freeing up and tightening up. Both ways are great ways to experiment. People do tend to have a preference that feels more comfortable, like an inborn temperament. 
  • Put on some music, and now draw in a scribble-y way with lots of lines. See if you can keep time with the music that you have playing, like you’re dancing to the music. Don’t pick your pen up from the paper until the end of the song. Try standing up while your work and sway and move. Hopefully, someone will see you and giggle. 
  • Splatter a little ink around. Smudge. Make a giant mess. Laugh maniacally while you work. Get at least three smudges of paint or ink on your hands. 
  • Now, for comparison, draw really carefully and precisely so that the head looks like it was cut out with a cookie cutter, with nice perfect edges. Use pencil so you can erase. Put your control freak hat on! Be as tight as you like. Now go ahead and draw over the pencil lines with a marker or pen and ink. Or scan in and use auto trace if you know how to do so. 

Which way do you prefer? What did you learn about your art temperament? 

Next week, you’ll be taking your art from the Mini and creating a finished piece for your assignment (market and product to be revealed!) 

Download a pdf of this post below.

1.0 Welcome from Lilla

Hey everyone! Welcome to Bootcamp! I’m so glad you’re here! There’s so much that I want to teach you. I know we have returning students and brand new students. Welcome, welcome, welcome to all! I want you to know that in every MATS class it’s the same: we want you to shine, to prosper, to thrive, to grow and have a lot of fun doing it. We love the newbies and the old pros. This is a supportive place for all of you.

Monday will now be your new Happy Day. You will get something from me every single Monday while the class is running. When planning Bootcamp, I really wanted to create a routine for you. So every Monday, go to the classroom, and find your next thing. You could even set a reminder on your phone to check in every Monday!


I’m particularly excited about Bootcamp 2018. I always try to outdo myself and give you even more than in previous years. I ask myself “What can I give you that will surprise and delight you? That will challenge you but not overwhelm you? That will be perfect for all levels?” I love that it’s my job to answer those questions.

All of the assignments are geared to making marketable portfolio pieces so that you make art that sells and have a lot of fun doing so. As an agent, we assign jobs to our artists EVERY SINGLE DAY, so I know what art directors are looking for. That changes all the time, which is cool. It keeps it interesting.

If you are new to MATS you will find that we are a supportive community. The Facebook group is there for you to make friends, ask questions, get support and give support. I’ve heard some students say that it’s the most supportive and fabulous community they’ve ever found. I’m really happy about that. I know that in the past you may have felt isolated. Well no more. Play your part and get involved. Even if you’re shy, say hello now. Just say where you are from, or ask a simple question to the group. Step by step!

My teaching style is about having fun while learning. Creative people need to be amused, entertained, intrigued, and inspired. That’s my job. Your job is to make pictures that matter to you, that you enjoy. Out of that, with my guidance, you will then…

For an artist, making art that sells always starts with a joyful creative experience. That’s job one. Plus, you must create art that involves subject matter that is fresh yet marketable. You then need to bear in mind markets that are appropriate for the work. That’s why Bootcamp is so effective. I give you the subject matter and the markets. You make art in your style.

Lilla Rogers Studio

As an art agent, I see the work that my artists are getting. I know the hot markets, what kind of art is needed by the best companies, and then out of that I create the Bootcamp assignments and give them to you. Pretty cool, right?

Here are a few of our clients:

It’s sometimes difficult to do art on your own, is it not? It’s overwhelming! Where do you begin? It’s much more fun when you get a little treasure chest of directives. What I’ve created for you each month is a packet of awesome. When you’re given specific parameters, it’s actually easier and less overwhelming. You’ll be guided step-by-step through the process. Your goal is simply to have fun and make art!

Each month you will get a mini exercise followed by a main assignment. The mini will help warm you up and ease you into the professional-level assignment. See ‘How the course works’ and the class calendar for more details.

This is your own time to make art. There are no grades, no judges, no competition. But I don’t want you to get complacent, so although there is no competition, we do have deadlines and a place to show off your work each month. I would really encourage you to make a commitment to getting your work in on time each month so it can be included in our monthly class gallery. This is good discipline for you, and it will be fun to be part of the buzz. We will also be sharing the gallery link with lots of our friends in industry each month, so your work might even get spotted by them. Every year we have run Bootcamp, some artists have received inquiries and jobs directly from their Bootcamp gallery exposure!

Before we begin, please be sure to do the following:

  • Read to the end of this post for some tips on creating art for this class
  • Familiarise yourself with the classroom and read all the info provided
  • Introduce yourself in the comments below and/or in the Facebook group – let us know who you are, where you are and why you are here!

Love, Lilla



Tips for creating art in this class

  1. Who you are

  • Think of each assignment that you receive as an adventure. You’re the boss of the assignment! Use them however you like to create art that fits your goals.
  • Perhaps you’re a seasoned professional looking for some fresh, marketable ideas for your portfolio.
  • Maybe you’re a newbie who needs some focus and direction to begin your portfolio.
  • Perhaps you want to increase your Etsy or craft event sales.
  • Maybe you are not necessarily planning to burst on the art scene but just really love making art and want assignments that are inspiring and awesome.
  • Or maybe you’re taking this course to play with a new medium or explore fresh styles.

These are all good. So you see that any level of ability, experience or purpose is welcome! Don’t let yourself be overwhelmed by the talent level in this group – use it to inspire and motivate yourself. There are students with a great deal of professional experience; it’s true. Let that push you to up your game! How fabulous that you are being exposed to some of the best artists in the business! We are not all judge-y here. We are supportive of everyone’s level, from newbie to old pro.

Throughout the course, I give you these affirmations that I recommend you print out and post in your home. Use them to empower you. I made them with love! They help reprogram negative self-talk.

Lettering by Lilla Rogers 

2. Assignments as playtime

I want you to think of the mini assignments that you are given at the beginning of every month as playtime. You are back in kindergarten. You are drawing just for the fun of making lines and putting colors on paper. You’re in the moment. You’re not looking for approval, money, or other external rewards. You’re just having fun.

Out of these scribbles and moments, you’re actually going to do some of your best work. These experiments and bits will be the building blocks that you’ll use to create your final assignments. Don’t worry about a thing. I’ll guide you through all of it and I want to remind you that it’s okay to make “bad” pieces. In fact, I encourage you to do so. This means that you are open and taking fresh risks.

Does it really work to make bad pieces? Yes, it does, because it frees you up. When you take the ‘perfect’ edge off, you can play. And who says they are ‘bad’, anyway?

So keep working, and you will find the sweet spot too.


3. Why these assignments?

How did I select the particular subject matter for our five Bootcamp assignments? Actually, one of my favorite things in mentoring the artists that I represent is creating trend reports for them, or personally working with each individual artist to create new pieces. I might suggest subject matter that is both a great fit for their style plus will get them lots of awesome jobs! After a couple of decades of this, I have a pretty good understanding of what sells–without selling out.

I have used this method to help me select subject matter that is on trend or ahead of trend, and craft assignments for hot markets where a lot of art is sold. When working on the mini don’t think about where the art might end up – just have fun. But when you get to the assignment, you might want to bear in mind the market and potential clients/audience, to give you an extra challenge as you work on your piece.


4. What about style?

Just some of the artists we represent.

If you’re familiar with our agency you know that our artists have distinctive styles and get work from a variety of top clients such as Anthropologie, Crate & Barrel, Target, Real Simple Magazine, children’s book publishers, bolt fabric companies, home décor companies, baby apparel companies, and hundreds more. The important thing here is that they each have a distinctive style, but those styles differ from one artist to the next.

I clearly don’t represent every single look out there, but that isn’t to say other styles aren’t good. Whatever style you do is fine! Just be sure to hone it and own it.

5. What you don’t get in this e-course

You get loads of goodness in Bootcamp, but what you don’t get are reviews of the work by me. (Reviews happen in the live courses)

You also don’t get insight into the various markets, such as how to pitch to them, interviews with art directors, and so on. For that juicy stuff, please join us in the other Make Art That Sells classes.

For a fantastic introduction to the top ten markets, and how to pitch to them, take MATS Part A and MATS Part B.

This Bootcamp course was created by popular demand from MATS students for more assignments. It is a perfect accompaniment to any MATS course or a great way to continue the experience if you have taken MATS A, B, or any other MATS course. You’ll pack your portfolio full of great new pieces from this class, grow your style, and get better and better, yielding more jobs for you!

6. General Image Tips

Here are some general tips about preparing your work:

  • CREATING YOUR ART: Your art for all 5 assignments will always be CREATED as a 300dpi image, RGB. This is called your hi-res image. This is what clients will need to use to reproduce your art onto the final product.
  • SUBMITTING WORK TO CLIENTS: For submitting to clients by email, send a 150 dpi jpg image. This is called your lo-res image. Never send them the hi-res image before you have a contract!
  • UPLOADING YOUR WORK TO THE MATS GALLERY: For submitting your work to the class, follow the instructions on the ‘Class Galleries’ page.