Hi Lilla, thank you for doing this with me. First I must tell you, I love the new look on your web site!
Thanks! We love it, too.
Did you design it yourself?
No. Also-Design did it. I love what they do and knew I wanted to use them. They did the design*sponge website.
Ooo, love their work! (sorry for the cut n’ paste for this interview page) How did you come up with the ideas?
I wanted something fun and playful and hip and colorful and non-businesslike.
It really matches the style of many of your clients, in my opinion anyway.
Thanks! It's all about niche marketing and branding. We are clearly who we are. Not for everyone, but right for some.
Artists... how do you choose new artists that you'd like to represent?
We get about 1,000/year from all over the world.
1. We must LOVE the work.
2. We must feel that we can get lots of work for the artist. We usually know right away which clients of ours will love it. But it's always a gamble.
3. We must feel that the artist is stable, professional, and knows what an agent will do for them.
4. I must see great, enormous talent and genius. Not a one-trick pony, but a bounty of talent. Years of teaching and doing this helps me assess.
Is it a long process? or do you pretty much know right away that they're a good fit for you?
Sometimes we love the work but are so swamped it can take a full year or so to finally make an offer to an illustrator. Some of it is just funky-good timing as in we're in the mood to take on new artists.
In addition to running the agency and and being an illustrator, are you still teaching?
Yup. I was and I am. Parsons, School of Visual Arts, etc. And in my studio for many years. I teach what I want when I want in the studio and what I'm really excited about with who I want so it's basically a party that they pay me to attend. Ha ha.
Good grief woman, how do you fit it all in?
You are funny and kind. See above. Plus, I have great people working for/with me. I delegate everything I'm not good at and that leaves what I do best. It's knowing what I'm not good at and not feeling bad about it but feeling good about it. This comes with age.
I really enjoy the little bios on your artist's pages (great questions!), as well as photos of their workspaces. Do most of your artists readily contribute to filling in the blanks? or is like pulling teeth to get their info?
Amazingly, they all did it w/o pulling teeth. Because they are awesome.
Do you take the time to create stuff just for yourself?
Yes, totally. I do crafts (beads, fabric, glass, kiln, etc) and paint and read and surf (the net, not the water) and garden and cook and watch The Office and Jon Stewart & Colbert Show with my kids, and Antiques Roadshow with my husband.
How do you relax Lilla - do you have some sort of system or routine in your life?
Totally. The only way to have career longevity is to love what you do but not do it to the point of burn-out. Also, have great people around you and have social/emotional balance. Plus exercise and meditation.
I have two kids and three of us here have kids so this job is totally great for women. I believe in extraordinarily high professionalism and complete flexibility for the people that work for/with me. This comes from me being an illustrator first, and then I became an agent/entrepreneur, so I value autonomy. Right this very moment one of the agents in the studio is working remotely from Colorado.
Lilla, how do you begin a new project? Do you ever have a difficult time getting started?
Not any more. It gets easier. But I was the worst procrastinator and perfectionist many years ago. But I've learned a ton. Meditation, creative visualization, and big-time time management. Break things down into tiny parts. Be nice to yourself. Create starting rituals like do a ten-minute personal piece before I start and illustration. It's like warm-ups or piano scales. Other creative traditions have warm-ups.
Our culture does a real job on artist-people and gets them all weirded out. Nurture yourself. Be nice to yourself. Be self-disciplined in a nice way. Be honest with yourself. Surround yourself with people who support you emotionally. Learn when to trust your good instincts. That's not the same as "Trust your instincts". It takes years to learn what are your good instincts, so listen carefully. Being an artist means trusting your crazy passions. And getting paid good money for your art does wonders for self-esteem in our culture.
Dang, I could use you for inspiration myself! Think I’ll reread this when I’m starting my work day and need to get motivated. Speaking of getting started, what's a typical routine in your day Lilla? Are you a night owl or an early bird?
Was night owl. Then had kids. Now am early bird. I get tons of sleep. Rest is key.
Coffee or tea?
I try not to use caffeine too much. But I'm no spring chicken.
Final question Lilla - how do you want people to remember you 100 years from now?
An innovator. A woman who inspired and made life better for artists and women. "She worked hard to help artists get paid like other top professionals."
Thanks again Lilla. You rock!
*personal note - it was w-a-a-y too difficult to choose examples of Lilla’s illustrations to show you. You’ll have to take a look around yourself. Enjoy! While you’re there, don’t forget to check out her cool artists.