Monday, December 30, 2013

Review: I Just Like To Make Things by Lilla Rogers

I received a book for Christmas that I devoured, slowly and methodically. Seriously, this book had me from the cover design (be still my heart!) The book? “I Just Like To Make Things” by Lilla Rogers of Lilla Rogers Studio. 

I am not sure I can accurately express how darn right attractive this book is. The design of it is clean but “arty” and the artworks chosen (from amongst the artists that Lilla Rogers represents as an agent) are eye candy and inspirational. It’s spiral bound making this book feel much more workbook-like and thus freeing me to actually write in at the areas that she left spaces to do so. So, if you’re judging a book by it’s cover, this book already has a win.
Even better though, is the meat of this book. It’s set up like a five course gourmet meal (literally, there are five chapters here people!) Here is the chapter rundown:

Chapter 1: People Buy Your Joy: It’s All about Having Fun with the Process
Chapter 2: The Secrets of Success: Getting Great at Your Art
Chapter 3: They Psychological Stuff: Real-Life Strategies for the Successful Artist
Chapter 4: Art and Craft That Attracts Success: Getting to Know the Marketplace for Your Work
Chapter 5: A Million Opportunities: What’s Next for You?

Mixed throughout the book in each chapter, are interviews with artists working and earning a living in the field. This might be one of the most valuable aspects of the book. As a fiber artist and quilter I have come to realize (yes, with this book) that I have pigeonholed myself into a niche market. It is educational and personally eyeopening to hear from artists in other market niches. They have invaluable advice for one thing, but just being exposed to other genres here made me realize that I need to diversify myself. (More blog posts to come from that eventually I'm sure!) Most (if not all) of the artists in the book, have their toes in several different marketplaces.

I am not going to go into each chapter in detail here, instead I will share some snippets of what I have learned from this book.

First, what I thought I wanted at the start of this book grew and morphed into something else, something BIGGER by the end of the book. I have a pretty good inkling others will find this happens to them as well. Lilla very skillfully guides you along and shows you just how big the art, design and print world really is and how interconnected it can be at the same time. It is practical as well as extremely encouraging for “new” artists and designers.

It is the first artist’s book that I have read that touches on jealousy, envy and competition. (Of course we don’t have ANY of that in the fiber/quilt arena, right? Right??) I’ll be the first to admit that I struggle with envy!

This book delves into the how and what to do for many markets, including quilting/fabric design, paper print, home decor, etc. It brings to your attention possibly lucrative venues that you might otherwise never have thought of that can work with the art and designs you are already creating. I feel ready to expand what I am doing and get back into surface design again on a more broad spectrum.
There is extremely helpful information and resources on licensing in this book. How it works, where to find opportunities, etc. (As well as pros and cons and what to look out for. It also covers trade shows and their pros and cons.)

One of my favorite quotes comes from one of the artists in the book, Doll Maker, Mimi Kirchner, “If money were the most important thing, I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing.” 

Now that I am done with the book, I am going to go back over it and take personal notes for myself again, on the aspects that I need to use and apply to my career. There are many guides and leading question sets to help you with goal setting - even if at the start you aren’t sure at all what your goals are.
I recommend this book to EVERY creative person out there, I’m not kidding. This book is already changing my life (I know that sounds corny!) and I think it could have an extremely positive impact on any one who reads it, no matter where they might be in their career already. It offers something for pretty much anyone.

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