Make Art That Sells, Week 1: Paper

I’ve gone back to school! But not the kind of school you’re expecting– that’s boring.

Last March, I signed up for Lilla Rogers’ Make Art That Sells e-course. Lilla Rogers Studio is my DREAM agency (I don’t know if I’m supposed to say that as I’m already represented by another agency!) and Lilla reps a few of my favorite artists (among them,Β Jillian Philips and Mike Lowery).Β Lilla is one of the world’s top illustration agents and I tell you, I see her artists’ work on products all the time, even here in Manila. You know her artists and the studio must be really successful and get a lot of projects if their work is that far-reaching.

When I found out that she was running an e-course on how to make your art more commercially viable, I immediately signed up (I found out about the course late at night and registered for the class the next morning). It’s the next best thing to being represented by her agency– I haven’t tried submitting my portfolio to them for consideration as I know my work needs to be at a certain level of quality– a quality I have yet to reach.

The course is split into two parts, 5 weeks each part: Part A covering Bolt Fabric, Home Decor, Children’s Picture Books, Wall Art, and the Gift market. Part B covers Paper, Baby Apparel, Scrapbooking, Editorial, and Party Paper. You can opt to take both parts, or just one. As the course costs a lot of $$$ (ka-ching!) and I can only afford to take one part, I opted to take Part B as it covers illustration markets that, 1) I am most interested in, and 2) I think my illustration style is best suited for. I’m not very interested in home decor and wall art, and I have since found out that I do not enjoy illustrating for picture books (stuck on the same project, drawing the same characters consistently in different poses for months on end = nah).

The class started four weeks ago. The first week covered Paper– specifically, making illustrations for greeting cards, a huge industry that buys artwork (in fact, just yesterday, my agency sent me a notice that a greeting card company bought one of my illustrations). We get an assignment each week, and the assignment for Paper was to make a holiday card featuring ornaments and/or candy. We were to make two cards, but submit only one in the class pool.

This is my first card:

Blog entry: Make Art That Sells Week 1: Paper

You don’t often see gingerbread houses (or even gingerbread) here in the Philippines.We had an intern at work once who brought in a large and elaborately decorated gingerbread house to the office– my officemates and I were so fascinated by it as it was the first time most of us had seen one. I think we ate it for days.

That gingerbread house became the inspiration and focus of my card design. That, and the idea of a world of candy. When I was 9, I watched Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (the 1971 version with Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka). As someone with a major sweet tooth, the thought of being surrounded by so much candy and chocolate really captured my imagination days, weeks, and even years after watching the movie. I remembered that childhood fascination as I was doing my card. I set my gingerbread house against a snowy, winter background as winter holidays is apparently a top-selling card theme.

Blog entry: Make Art That Sells Week 1: Paper

I had fun adding minute details to my card, really enjoying the process, never mind that it took a lot of time to get all the details in.

For my second card, I still couldn’t shake off the idea of gingerbread, so I designed a card with that theme as well. I ended up with gingerbread letters spelling out “Ho ho ho” because that means I only need to draw two letters, as opposed to “Happy holidays” or “Merry Christmas” ;P I’ve always wanted to decorate cookies (but just decorating– I’m not interested in baking them) so I’m glad I got to do that with digital icing, at least.

Blog entry: Make Art That Sells Week 1: Paper

I finished the second card in one sitting because I took some elements, used (mints and jellies) and unused (snowman, candy canes, jelly beans) from my first card.

But I only needed to submit one.

Blog entry: Make Art That Sells Week 1: Paper
(I adapted the design of my second card to fit a vertical orientation)


I ended up submitting my first card since I put in more time and effort on my gingerbread house, even though I like the second card better. In hindsight, I should’ve gone with the second one as Lilla reminded us to “design a card you would enjoy giving to friends.” I would definitely send out the second one instead of the first. In fact, I might actually send it out as my holiday postcard mailer for clients abroad πŸ™‚

I’m already on week 4 of the 5-week course and gaining a lot of insight on different markets for my work. Each week I also end up with commercial-ready work I can add to my portfolio (maybe with a few tweaks here and there). I’ll be sharing my work from and thoughts about the class in succeeding days/weeks.

Next up is Week 2: Baby Apparel πŸ™‚

Read about my Make Art That Sells series of blog posts
Week 1: Paper
Week 2: Baby Apparel
Week 3: Scrapbooking
Week 4: Editorial
Week 5: Party Paper
Bonus: Lilla Rogers’ Make Art That Sells: a review

Tea Party illustrations for Glottogon

Excited to show you a project I did months ago! I was just waiting for it to be out and available πŸ™‚

Illustrations for Glottogon's Tea Party Memory Match game

Earlier this year, Australian toy company Glottogon commissioned me to create 15 illustrations with a tea party theme. They provided the brief and the color palette, and it was up to me to take their concept and have fun with it. And have fun I did! This may be my most fun project so far.

The illustrations were to be used for their memory match series of games, targeted for children 3-6 years old. Glottogon provided me a list of words/objects to illustrate (i.e. triangle sandwiches, cake, coffee pot), asking for imagery that is fun, engaging, and would inspire children to dream of silliness and nonsense. WELL HOW FUN IS THAT?! I’m very silly and nonsensical, it’s kind of embarrassing considering I’m almost 25 (haha rrriiiiiiiight)! My inner six-year old was very happy.

Some of the initial pencil sketches I showed to the client:

Illustrations for Glottogon's Tea Party Memory Match game

Illustrations for Glottogon's Tea Party Memory Match game

My proposed backgrounds for the illustrations. I worked off a client-provided color palette.

Illustrations for Glottogon's Tea Party Memory Match game

Instead of drawing the provided words as is, I decided to create anthropomorphic objects to add character and a level of silliness to otherwise boring things. Putting faces on these objects opened up a whole new way of drawing them. They became alive, and I now had an excuse and a reason as to why the milk jug is jumping/floating off the table, or why the sandwiches are winking at each other. Much better and more imaginative and playful than just inanimate drawings of biscuits sitting on a plate.

A few of my favorites from the 15 images I illustrated:

Illustrations for Glottogon's Tea Party Memory Match game

Illustrations for Glottogon's Tea Party Memory Match game

Illustrations for Glottogon's Tea Party Memory Match game

Illustrations for Glottogon's Tea Party Memory Match game

The Tea Party Memory Match game was released in mid-September 2013 and is available to buy in toy and gift shops across Australia, or you can order online from Glottogon’s website.

Illustrations for Glottogon's Tea Party Memory Match game

I have to say, I’m happy with how Glottogon designed the packaging– minimal and tasteful. Sometimes an illustrator/designer sends off their work to a third party for graphic design and layout, then gets a big disappointment in return when they see their work has been slapped on with 5 different fonts (one of them Comic Sans– haha) and poor text leading/tracking (the spaces in between letters / lines of text). That has happened to me a few times– made me wish I could’ve offered to do the design and layout myself πŸ˜› I’ve no complaints with Glottogon’s packaging though! My graphic designer twin approves.

Illustrations for Glottogon's Tea Party Memory Match game

Tea Party Memory Match
AUD$24.95 inc GST

Time for a spot of tea party madness! Memory match tea party offers a fanciful twist on the traditional game of memory! The scrumptious illustrations on each tile will delight and captivate as children pair up Mr Coffee Pot, the cheerful winking cupcakes and the tasty sandwiches – plus so many more…
Suitable for up to 4 players, ages 3+ years.
30 cards in each box.
Ultra durable and perfect for little hands.

Many thanks to Glottogon for the opportunity to work on this extremely enjoyable project! Check out the rest of their Memory Match range, too πŸ™‚

Illustrations for Glottogon's Tea Party Memory Match game

Glottogon Facebook page:

Printing my Instagram photos and illustrations with Pixaroll – review

I have four Instagram accounts.

Yes, four. One, @wedgienet, is my main account for snapshots of my illustration work, arts and crafts, and nice shots of my cats. The second one is a private, personal account for real-life friends where I post random stuff, food, not so nice pictures of my cats, and my travel photos. My third IG account is @pusspins. The fourth is a long-forgotten and abandoned account I created solely for pictures of my cat, Tiger, but I’ve since found out it takes a lot of time and effort to catapult a cat into Internet stardom (LOL).

Printing Instagram photos/my illustrations with Pixaroll

Between those accounts, I have over 1,700 Instagram photos, none of which I save and backup. I figure it’s “on the cloud” so after I post photos on Instagram, I delete them off my phone. I didn’t think it was a problem– not until I needed to have my photos printed.

I recently got to try printing my Instagram photos via Pixaroll. Pixaroll is a service that lets you print photos from your phone. Just download the free app, select your photos, and pay via Paypal. You’ll get your 4×4 or 4×6-inch photos (depends on the size you set) in the mail afterwards. For a lazy bum like me, I love how convenient it is to do all that even without having to stand up. Hahaha.

As I don’t have any of my original photo files on my phone, I downloaded the Instagram pictures I wanted to print off my account on Webstagram. It’s not high-res, but I thought I’d try and see if it’ll look good as a 4×4 print anyway. I uploaded my relatively low-res travel photos on the Pixaroll app on the App store (also available on Google Play and Windows 8 phone store) and received my prints in the mail from the Pixaroll HQ in Singapore seven days after.

Printing Instagram photos/my illustrations with Pixaroll
Prints in the mail!


The prints came printed on 190gsm matte photo paper. Remember when we used to have film pictures developed and printed? No? What are you, 11 years old and too young to remember? Anyway, the paper is kind of like that– not thick, but not flimsy either. The print quality is pretty fantastic. I have a graphic design background so I’m more particular than most about things like pixels, resolution, and print quality, but considering I used non-high-res photos to print, Pixaroll passes the test. I still can tell (if I look very closely) that my printed photos were originally low-res, but the difference in quality is negligible. The average person (non-designers and non-professional photographers) probably won’t be able to tell, even.

Printing Instagram photos/my illustrations with Pixaroll
My travel photos printed with Pixaroll


And the colors! It amazes me that the photos turned out exactly the way they look on my phone– very vivid and saturated, as they were originally. It’s really hard to get colors to print the way they look on screen, so this impressed my inner graphic designer.

I also uploaded several of my 4R and 6R-sized Pusspins illustrations for printing– who says you need to stick to printing just photos?

Printing Instagram photos/my illustrations with Pixaroll[pinit]

Again, Pixaroll knocks it out of the park with color matching. The images on top are my digital files. The photo at the bottom is how they came out printed: fabulous! And since I uploaded high-res files this time, I saw just how crisp and clean printing was for these graphics. On a side note, wouldn’t these Pusspins images make great greeting cards for cat lovers? πŸ˜›

[ Check out Pusspins, my pet project ]

All in all, I’m pretty pleased with Pixaroll. I love how they’re able to reproduce in print what you see on your screen, and I love the convenience of doing it all straight from your phone. And as an illustrator/designer, my head is just filled with lots of ideas I can use Pixaroll for, beyond just photo keepsakes: wall art, product hang tags (print strips of images in one file, cut up the strips), drink coasters (Mod Podge your images on cork board?)… I can even use these to show around a mini-portfolio of my illustrations. And the price of their prints aren’t bad– a 4R print is $0.39 USD each if you have more than 20 photos printed.

Printing Instagram photos/my illustrations with Pixaroll
My Instagram photo of hot air balloons at the 2012 Philippine Hot Air Balloon festival

Check out Pixaroll’s website to learn more, and like their Facebook page to stay updated on the service!

Pixaroll FAQ page:
Facebook (Philippines):
Facebook (general):

[ Full disclosure: I am part of Pixaroll’s Star-Rollers (“a community made up of our customers that love to share their PixaRoll experiences through their crafts”) and received fifteen free prints from Pixaroll to try them out. I ordered five more prints I paid for myself. This is an unbiased review of their service, which I am happy with and see myself using again and again πŸ™‚ ]