MATS Blog Tour

Hi you all,

Today I’d like to introduce you to my new blog. I’m so glad you stopped by.

It’s been awhile since I blogged last and in the meantime I took an amazing 5-week online course and worked harder than probably ever before. After completion of this course called MATS (Make Art That Sells) by fabulous illustrator/agent Lilla Rogers, I decided I needed to “start-over” and my blog needed a “make-over” so I put down my Riverwhisper blog and – here we are at: On this site I will update you each Wednesday on the projects I’m working on, as well as introduce you to fabulous fellow artists, interesting art shows and everything else art related. I’m also working on my new website where you’ll find content about my art and writing, which is currently under construction at: I’d be happy if you visited me there sometime as well.

But now, off to MATS.  Some of my buddies from our online classroom suggested a MATS blog tour and today is my day, together with  Canadian illustrator Jennifer Appel and Danielle Mac Donald from Australia. Please check out their posts as well.

A lot of my classmates are acclaimed designers, illustrators and artists from all around the world, and I’m so happy to have found them!  After the course has finished, we still meet at our online classroom, give each other feedback and suggestions, and support each other like a good tribe does.  At the end of my post today you’ll find the links to all the other amazing artists from my tribe participating in this tour. Check them out!

Now, first I have to take you back to June to a SCWBI writer’s conference I attended and where I met a true angel, Clare Cannon, who told me about Lilla Roger’s and MATS. She described it so phenomenal that I really badly wanted to take this course as well. But like it is with conferences, you get home with your mind packed to the brim with new information and  you have to try and sort things out first. Clare, the angel that she is, emailed me a week later with a link to Lilla Roger’s site and I just loved what I saw. Unfortunately registration for Lilla’s fall course was not open before August 1 – but that was the day when first thing in the morning I registered!

Well, excited as I was, I honestly had no clue what to expect. Clare had mentioned, “I never considered painting textiles.” Neither had I, so for a head start and just for fun I tried filling my sketch books and canvasses with textile structures, like knitted sweaters, woven kitchen towels, fluffy blankets, etc. I must have misunderstood her, because our first lesson was all about patterns “on” fabric!

The first week Lilla had us paint, draw, sketch, (and eat! :)) berries – and Pyrex casseroles.      Oh my gosh it was so much fun! I enjoyed having an assignment I didn’t give myself (as I usually do as a self-employed artist). We turned our berry and casserole sketches into a vintage fabric design for use in the kitchen, and this is what I came up with

Scan 18

The second week we tackled home decor and we were to make a design for two to four plates. Oh fun, I thought. After all I worked in the Fine China department for five years to earn money for my art studies. But it didn’t take long to discover that my lacking knowledge of Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator really was a problem here. However, this is what I came up with:

Scan 3


Perhaps “Rosenthal” might be interested in my plates(?), but it might become something entirely different, like a gift item? We’ll see.

Third week: Picture Books! I was in my element. Didn’t I sign up for this course to become a better illustrator?  We got to illustrate the cover or one spreadsheet of the Russian fairy tale, “The Language of the Birds.”

Scan 4

This is my spreadsheet. Like every week I was blown away when I saw what my classmates came up with. But as Lilla emphasized, “Don’t compare yourself with others. You are unique. Art is a spiritual journey. Find your own style. Explore.” and best of all, “Get cracking.”

Next: wall art. Well, didn’t I do this all my life? I wasn’t that excited about week four, but it was fun. I made three pieces and “handed in” the one I definitely want to explore some more. Unfortunately, it doesn’t show all the layers in this photo and comes out a little dark. But I learned one important thing: Some things you can get away with as an artist you are not allowed to do as an illustrator!!! – Oh, those rules again. They make sense, but perhaps there was a reason I became an artist?! – Never mind, I’m constantly learning.


And then came already week five. We tackled the gift market and it was the week filled with the most fun. We designed a zipper pouch, and here is what I came up with:

Scan 4

I was so grateful for and so overwhelmed with all the insights Lilla passed on to us, but after five weeks I was also sad for I would miss my daily lessons, videos and weekly assignments. I didn’t know then that only my fairy art mother left the classroom to look from the distance, like fairies do, but that most of my classmates would stay and become my tribe. Oh, I love my tribe!

In March most of us have already enrolled for MATS Part B. I can’t wait! And if you are reading this and you like to create or need your career to take a new direction, I can warmly recommend Lilla Roger’s e-course, Make Art That Sells.

As promised, underneath are the links to my fellow artists and designers from this blog tour. Enjoy!

And please come back next Wednesday to find out what I’m up to now. In the meantime have a joyous week and don’t let yourself get stressed out. and 

Tina Koyama

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