taking flight into art, love, and life (the blog)

Friday, October 05, 2012

The Possibilitarian Project: Lilla Rogers

The Possibilitarian Project is more than a blog series, it’s a movement. Because when you step forward as a Possibilitarian — and share the truth about how you created your beautifully messy, magnificently complicated & exquisitely joyful life and career — you give everyone else permission to dream bigger, be braver, and create what they want. And just like that, the impossible simply . . . . . isn’t.

As a newbie artist, I once sent a cold email to Lilla Rogers herself. The visionary. The artist agent icon. The creative powerhouse behind Lilla Rogers Studio. Honestly, I had no idea what I was thinking, except that I was practicing being fearless and taking small steps toward my dreams, and that included asking Lilla if she would consider being my agent. It was a long shot, a pipe dream.  And so you can imagine my surprise when she sent me a personal reply. Although it was a rejection letter (my work wasn't a good fit for her clients - true!), tt was the most gracious rejection letter ever , and it ended with her encouraging me to keep pursuing my art dreams. She asked if I could send her a copy of my book (it had just released) and so I sent off my book along with a thank you note, delighted that she even asked for one. How cool!

Fast forward a year or so and I'm at Surtex (and five months pregnant!) and I meet Lilla. She remembered me, was incredibly warm and encouraging, and continued to encourage me along the creative path. I loved meeting her, being around her energy, and thought she was remarkable for how she embodied the spirit of nurturing creative souls out in the world.

Fast forward another couple of years and I get to meet her again at The Creative Connection Event. We dove straight in: conversations about art, love, business and more. She is a natural teacher, inspirationalist, and mentor. Later, I interviewed her for a fascinating conversation for Hello Soul, Hello Business and walked away from that conversation feeling more firmly planted in the wild ride of the creative life than ever before. She has lived this ride, knows it well, trusts the ebbs and the flows, and thrives.

I'm a fan. Of her work, of her business, but mainly of her story and how she has beautifully weaved in doing what she loves while also inspiring others to do what they love, too. Once she told me that her life's work is to "doodle and talk, doodle and talk", meaning be creative and teach. And she does both beautifully.

I haven't even mentioned her new book (soon to be released - order it here!) or her recent new launch of her Ruby Violet products - which I LOVE. More on both of these amazing ventures below!

Everybody, meet Lilla Rogers. She's a Possibilitarian. Here's why.....


Who were you before you became a Possibilitarian? What was your ‘early’ career, or ‘previous life’?

When I graduated from art school I was thrilled to get an art teaching job in a public middle school. While I loved those kids and gave that job everything I had, I knew it was essential to my well-being to take the risk to make the big move back to art school for a Master's in painting. So after three years of teaching, I left. I gave up tenure. I let my teaching credentials lapse. I was terrified. I had a yard sale and sold most everything but clothes and art supplies, packed up my little car, and left the east coast for San Francisco.


What did you (secretly) long for, in that previous life?

If I could just make a living making pictures, I would be the happiest woman alive.

::Moment of Truth::

Was there a pivotal moment when everything shifted? What happened?

Funny thing happened. I didn't get into the Master's program at the Art Institute. They said my work was too illustration-looking. It was feminine and figurative. So now what? I took a painting class there but also an illustration class at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco while I worked as a secretary at the groovy Bay Guardian newspaper and taught calligraphy classes in my apartment at night.

Turned out I LOVED illustration. I treasured the assignments. First there was the research. Then sketches. Then finishes. There was a process. I adored the energy of "commercial" art. (Of course any time you sell your art it's commercial.) Guess what? I went on to receive my Master's in Illustration with Honors. And my first job was from New York Magazine while I was still in San Francisco.


How did you gather the courage to cross the threshold into a Possibilitarian life & career? How do those early lessons keep you going today?

My life has been a series of risks. They just get easier and easier to take. Success builds upon success. I went from being an illustrator in New York City with agents in New York, Paris, and Tokyo to falling in love, moving to Boston, and becoming an agent myself.

My kids are now teenagers and my son starts college in the fall so I'm at a great place in my career. I love to think this thought: If you told me a year ago that I would be (fill in the blank) I would have said you were crazy! The first time I said that was in 1974 when I arrived in Oakland ready to attend art school at California College of the Arts. And it's been like that more or less ever since.

(Note from Kelly Rae: Above is a glimpse into Lilla's Ruby Violet craft line. Imagine the coolest embellishments ever that you can then use to glue on anything and everything. Watch the video above for how it all works. AWESOME.) 


Where are you NOW? What have you created, what’s on the horizon, and how have you been applauded & recognized for your work? (This is your chance to brag away & BIG yourself up! Go for it!)

I ADORE being an agent and nurturing careers and getting work for the artists. It's very social and has the teaching component. I have a staff that I completely love and respect, and the artists love working with them as well. We are now in the lucky position of getting thousands of submissions by artists per year wishing to be represented by us.

This past year I launched the Ruby Violet craft line out of my insane passion for craft, vintage goodness, and jewelry. Whew, that was a scary move! Yes, it's true. I still get scared! And I just finished writing a book where I give every bit of advice I can on making a successful art career which can now be pre-ordered on Amazon. It turns out that I LOVE writing books!

(Note from Kelly Rae: Above is a glimpse into Lilla's Ruby Violet necklace kit collection. Watch the video above for how it all works. I love these DIY necklace kits.)


What’s ONE piece of advice or encouragement you’d give to someone who’s facing their own pivotal moment, right now?

Oh, I know how hard and scary it is! I feel for those of you that are scared but dying to make a change! The big questions you may be facing are these: Am I good enough to leave my job and go for it? Am I ready? Am I making the biggest mistake of my life? What am I, nuts? The truth is, there is no wrong thing to do because, as my mother always says, "One thing leads to the next."

So guess what? If plan A doesn't work out, you may actually like plan B even better! It's really true. Your plan doesn't have to be perfect, and it doesn't have to be a sure thing, because of course it never is either of those things. Life is a work in progress. You start getting sea legs and learn to go with the flow of life, making decisions along the way.

My advice:

  1. Get as much information as you can.
  2. Get as good as you can at whatever it is you want to do.
  3. Make sure it's really what you're passionate about. (For me my core passions are these: talking and doodling.)
  4. Take risks but don't be impulsive.
  5. Have a few people that support you like crazy.
  6. Don't put all your eggs in one basket.
  7. Remember that every successful person started at the beginning just like you.
  8. Everyone has rough patches. It's just how you decide to handle them.
  9. Use affirmations. Kelly Rae's products are wonderful for that. (She didn't pay me to say that! Ha ha.)
  10. You can change your life in a day. Take that step!

(Lilla's new book - available for pre-order here!)

Thank you, Lilla!
You can connect with Lilla through
Facebook  |  Website  |  Blog

Lilla Rogers Is a Possibilitarian...Are You?

Feel free to snag any and all of these for your sidebars. I just ask that you kindly link it to ThePossibilitarianProject.com so that others can join in the fun. Thank you!

Do YOU know a brave, tender & wildly inspiring person . . . someone who has created their dream life & career, on their own courageous terms? Nominate them for The Possibilitarian Project!


Sleepandhersisters said...

I often listen to the audio interview you,kelly Rae and Beth had with Lilla during HSHB, there is an amazing amount of goodness in her words and I always find it so inspirational. I have loved reading this chat with Lilla and can't wait for her book to come out!!!

Lilla Rogers Studio said...

Love you, Kelly Rae! You are a gift to our industry. So much sharin' and carin'. Thank you for your lovely kind words about me, too.