Make Art That Sells (A): Bolt Fabric


Lately I am taking some time to revamp my horrible art and illustration portfolio, and I have enrolled into two classes taught by the amazing Lilla Rogers, one of the top art agents in the world. “Make Art That Sells (A)” is a 5-week class with one topic per week: Bolt Fabric, Home Decor, Children’s Picture Books, Wall Art, and Gift. After beating up myself internally for weeks, I have paid and signed up for the ride. The first week is over before you know it.

We just got out of the bolt fabric design assignment from MATS Bootcamp in March. That was like a soft introduction into MATS A, and it is a second chance for me to act upon what I learned to do, what not to do, and what I wish I should have done.

The subject matter is “Tropical Fruit + Casserole Dish”. This time, instead of drawing Godzilla destroying a city made with casserole dishes like I did with my crazy previous assignment, I focus on the obvious – the actual subject matter itself.


I have come to learn about Amy Butler via the class, and I found myself drooling, literally drooling, over her designs. Her patterns are so intricate with so many motifs, colors and icons, yet you don’t really find them busy. Unlike many of the existing bolt fabric designs, her designs are very wearable, and it is not in the cheesy “I-can’t-believe-you-wore-a-dress-made-with-curtains” kind of way. Indeed, they brought out your personality, yet highly fashionable. So I naively thought, I could create a pattern of pots and pans and fruits that you may want to wear too. Har har.


Images from

I want to force myself to do an illustrator / vector piece for this assignment. Vector is my comfort zone so it feels more like work and less fun, but I know it is the right medium for this project. Besides, seeing Amy Butler’s work convinced me that vector doesn’t have to be “robotic” and “emotionless”. It has the potential to bring out a lot of personality.


The above is what I made for the Mini. I don’t know what it is, but “Taiwanese street scene” is what came to my mind when I attempted to create a pattern out of it! I was frustrated because that is not what I wanted (I want Amy Butler!!!! LOL). The streets of Taiwan are very busy visually, and maybe it is the colors and the spacing of the icons that gives me that Taiwan feeling. I am also not sure why it felt very “oriental” to me. Maybe it is the pots that got rotated vertically, and the icons within them look like Chinese characters at a glance?


After getting some feedback from the forever-helpful class message board, I worked another day to come to the above arrangement, which I am actually quite happy about. The icons varied in scale now, and I have limited the palette a bit so it is not as busy visually. I liked this arrangement so much that I almost wanted to submit this as is for my assignment submission, but I didn’t because it is not quite a bolt fabric pattern.


This is what I submitted at last. As you can see, it is wildly different from the beautiful Amy Butler patterns that I was so inspired from! I won’t say I can make a dress out of this and proudly wear it on the streets, but I would take it as an apron ;-).

Last but not least…. I must say I am soooooo happy that Lilla included this into the weekly review video! It gave me a nice positive push, and reassurement that maybe I shouldn’t sulk or give up trying. I really needed this push. Thank you Lilla!

What do you think? Do you have any suggestions and recommendations for me?


This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

6 thoughts on “Make Art That Sells (A): Bolt Fabric

  1. Oh wow! Love it. Especially the red and yellow colourway. And how cool that you got reviewed :) I am loving seeing what all my Bootcamp friends are doing for MATS this month and so cannot wait for the autumn when I can join this ride myself :)

Leave a Reply