Final Neverland Collection products and thoughts on the class
Wow, those 5 weeks of MATS Home Decor class went fast! I have a couple of weeks before the next MATS class starts (Children's book Illustration! So pumped over here!), and in the meantime I'm doing a fun exercise to get ready and doing a fair amount of business housekeeping.
But I'm a big believer in evaluating progress and being thoughtful about experiences, so I wanted to take some of this time to really consider how this class has helped me, and what having taken it means for the next steps in my business, portfolio, and goals.
Also, I'm a believer in lists. So there will be plenty of those here today. If you get easily bored by this kind of thing, just scroll down to see the pretty pictures and ignore this part. I won't be offended, I promise. :)
Lists and Thoughts
What I wanted to get out of the class:
- An introduction to how the home decor market works (I've never pursued the licensing direction before)
- A feel for whether or not it's the right market for me
- A set of assignments and deadlines to help keep me motivated and making art constantly
- A small collection that's portfolio-ready
My biggest expected challenges:
- Deciding what kind of collection to start with
- Deciding what "style" to use in my collection (most artists have several slightly varying styles that we tend to think are extremely different, but most people don't really see that much difference. We're hyper-sensitive to it, I think)
- Going all Hermione Granger and spending too much time on each assignment
After polling y'all lovely folks and working it through with the class worksheet, I decided to just go for it, do what brings me joy, and go all out for the Neverland-inspired Children's Home Decor Collection.
My biggest actual challenges:
- Being too narrowly blocked in by the kind of collection I set out to make. I LOVE the theory of a Neverland collection and absolutely wanted to create one, but I set myself up for what I think was probably a much harder time getting the assignments to line up well with both what I wanted to do and the assignment specifications.
- Following a trendboard I didn't make. Lilla put together a few trendboards (basically style guides) for us to choose from, which was a great tool for the class, but I'm stubborn and used to making my own and had a hard time bouncing back and forth between making what I wanted to anyway and trying to be the perfect student who follows all the rules exactly. This is a standard problem for me, but I'm working on it, and I think more practice and confidence will help. Also next time I'll still follow the basic guide of the provided trendboard, but make my own for specifically how I want to interpret it.
- Knowing if I'd actually successfully applied the lessons I'd learned throughout the week. There were hundreds of students in class, and I'm a total newbie at this, so it's no surprise I didn't make it into any of the reviews. But that also meant I didn't get any specific feedback from instructors Lilla or Margo. It gets pretty hard to know how you're doing when you're always trying to interpret reviews for other people's work to see if it fits your own.
- Doubting my style and approach. Margo and Lilla were extremely supportive of each of us following our own style and going with what our own creativity lead us to do, but let's just face it, folks: my work tends to be much more children's illustration-focused (cue happy music for the next class coming in two weeks!). Though home decor collections have themes and can capture a certain feel, they're not the same kind of storytelling I'm used to. It was hard to get my brain into that, and I think I was only barely starting to get there by the end of the course. Which leads me to:
- Thinking in a more generally marketable way. My work tends to be very niche, very specific, very... ...not generally marketable as home decor. I don't want to squash my work too much into a mold, but I know I need to be aware of what art directors are looking for, and make sure my work can still fit into that, even if it's not what you see on most department store shelves. I think starting over and going through the course again with a next collection would help solidify this way of thinking and help me know how to proceed with using any home decor collections in my portfolio well.
- Overthinking. Always. I tend to feel like if whatever I'm working on came too easily, like a simple pattern, I must not be working hard enough and obviously it's poor quality work, right??
The Pretty Pictures Part
I'm kind of embarrassed about it now, but in the interest of transparency and actually showing (and realizing) the growth that's happened over the last 5 weeks, I wanted to show you my first and last boards:
Week by Week
Here's an overview of each board, week by week, with some notes on what I learned and tried to incorporate fr each new assignment:
What I learned/Realized/Re-realized as part of taking this class:
- Following directions and being aware of specifications and boundaries is good... but so is my creativity. Don't hobble it too much.
- Decide what you are and are not going to do (as far as fitting into those standards and specifications) before you design the next collection.
- Make your own trendboard interpretation guide before you start
- Review what you've learned and celebrate victories
- Trying new things is a wonderful way to keep things fresh
- I actually do like lettering
- Things don't have to be matchy-matchy to work together, even to Art Directors
- Good enough is good enough
- Each new piece or art I create doesn't have to be the end-all, best-of, culmination of everything else I've ever done or learned. Each piece is just a new thread is the great tapestry that will be my portfolio and experience. One paragraph in a whole story. One brick in a...brick wall? Ok, you get the idea.
What am I most proud of from the past 5 weeks?
- I finished and uploaded every assignment before the deadline
- I showed up and did the work, despite some setbacks
- I drew a lot of stuff
- I actually designed a Peter Pan collection, even if it's not what I hoped it would be (there's always next time)
- Making the time to invest in my career in a whole new way
- Asking for help and feedback in the class Facebook group
- Finishing this giant blog post ( ha ha!)
- Taking the MATS Illustrating for Children's Book class. I think this one will be a more natural fit for me, and I'm more familiar with how these classes work now.
- Going through this class again on my own and creating at least one collection that incorporates everything I've learned
- Updating my portfolio to reflect al this new work I'm doing
- Contacting Art Directors and getting my work out there to be licensed!
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