I love hearing stories of designers “being discovered” from Instagram or a design taking off on Spoonflower. You put your art into the world… and BOOM. Success finds YOU.
But after 6+ years in this industry, I know that those stories are pretty rare. And even if they weren’t, there’s no way anyone else can replicate them because they depend on luck.
Pitch Your Portfolio gives you the plan (and the emails). So if you can bring the time and the tenacity…. there’s nothing standing in the way of getting your art licensed.
(Feeling a little short on tenacity? The Pitch Your Portfolio community can help fuel your motivation!)
“Pitch Your Portfolio was a wonderful stepping stone for me to take myself seriously as a business, and it gave me the tools to start acting like it! If you are ready to take a serious step into an art business, this is a great place to start.”
"Before PYP I felt overwhelmed and didn’t know where to start. And the truth is, you'll never feel 100% ready to start pitching. But this course gave me clear steps to get organized and target companies. It’s a very extensive, practical, and straightforward course aimed at making seemingly complicated things easy and even fun."
“I’ve been an art director, studio supervisor, and project coordinator, but had not come up with a set of tools that worked for licensing my art until Pitch Your Portfolio. I honestly was ready to leave the business, but I actually sold three pieces during this course because I found the confidence necessary to re-contact two potential clients at the right time.”
“But it gave me the key to boost my confidence, being simple but effective and landed me my very first licensing deal. If you're ready to master the art of pitching your work, Shannon is the go-to person! The content doesn't get old and she knows the industry and shares with us sooo much!”
Step-by-step practical video lessons to walk you through my system for getting your art in front of art directors (without overwhelm).
Live Q & A sessions to get direct feedback from me.
Email templates for different situations to make reaching out to and responding to companies less scary.
Screenshots of my real-life email interactions with companies so you know what to expect and are never caught off-guard.
Inclusion in the Pitch Your Portfolio online community to ask questions, seek support, and cheer one another on.
Airtable templates & easy set-up instructions to organize your outreach efforts, so you can spend more time on your art.
Radical transparency about the realities of this industry so you understand what to expect, like a seasoned pro.
The 12 most common surface design markets, how to determine which ones are right for you, and a SUPER helpful chart showing you what themes each market uses most often.
How to package your portfolio for maximum impact and why most of the advice you’ve heard from industry experts is wrong.
Design file organization tips because you need a good system in place to find any design you need the moment a client asks for it.
Real-life examples of how to evaluate your design style, plus a 70+ word cheat sheet you can use if you don’t know where to start.
How to organize your research from day one, using a single document making it easy-as-pie to keep track of it all.
The #1 thing you need to keep in mind during company research to make your search as efficient and effective as possible.
Company search 101: Demonstrations of seven different methods for finding companies – I’ll walk you through each step-by-step.
The one search method you should avoid because it’s a waste of time and money.
Other job titles beyond art directors to look for because ADs aren’t the only ones buying art.
How to search for the right person to contact at a company with live demos of six different methods and intel on which approach is best suited to small, medium, or large companies.
The best tool for finding an art director’s email and exactly how to use it, plus what to do when you can’t find an email at all.
How to decide who to contact and how to prepare your inbox before you send emails to help keep you focused and organized.
Top tips for writing killer intro emails and knowing exactly which art to send. Don’t worry, I make it easy and fun with mad-lib style templates you can fill out!
The common email mistake that slows you down… and how you can get back hours of your time with one simple fix.
My #1 hack to boost your confidence when sending emails and why not hearing back from an art director is never the full story.
20+ ACTUAL screenshots of my interactions with clients: Yup, I’m serious! I’ll show you exactly what art directors say and how I’ve responded to them.
How to write follow-up emails: I’ll hold your hand and walk you through how to create the perfect email for the 4 different replies you’ll get and the subtle differences for each.
The 5 questions you’ll get asked most frequently, including the most dreaded one of all, “What are your prices?” But don’t worry, you’ll learn what you need to ask in order to quote your prices confidently and get to watch an excerpt of my other signature course, Artful Pricing.
The biggest mistake you can make and how to avoid it. No BS here – follow-up is where so many designers drop the ball. But that doesn’t have to happen to you! I’ll show you how to create a plan you can stick to.
How to build relationships with the companies you contact: Watch me create the follow-up art emails I send to my clients in real time so you can see how simple and quick the process can be.
Art newsletters and why I think every designer should have them. News flash: They don’t have to be complicated or lengthy and using my method you can create one in under an hour!
Nothing was left for us to figure out on our own. It’s a game-changer and really equips you with the practical tools and confidence boost you need to approach businesses, and put your portfolio out there in a professional, yet accessible, way.
I have received numerous licensing contracts since Pitch Your Portfolio and found out a few days ago my dream of getting into Hawthorne Fabrics has come true! Your PDF layouts, advice, and Airtable all made it happen for me. So thank you!
I feel I have a roadmap on how I should go about building my portfolio and so many ideas have come to me, now that I know what the process is of how to go about pitching my portfolio to companies.
It’s not preachy or overly optimistic where one feels encouraged by still gets lost when trying to do it…I started sending out my portfolio to clients and within a month got 2 licensing contracts and 4 inquiries. I know I wouldn’t have had the confidence to start thinking on business terms if not for you.
I've known for a while I needed to start gathering company information but avoided it because it felt so overwhelming. But I've felt a shift in myself just in the past month since taking this class and my goals feel much more attainable!
“In just six months, I reached out to over 30 companies and licensed 2 designs.
Now I’m more confident in pitching, have a large portfolio, and create strategic artwork for specific markets. This course is for anybody who wants to take action in developing his/her own creative career in surface design."
“Your class is the only one I have truly felt connected with the teaching style, knowledge, and community!
I would have never known how to reach out to a few of my dream companies before your class. Now, I’ve successfully contacted some of my dream brands using what I've learned."
“Even though I have a lot of experience from my previous career with pitching, the tips and tricks Shannon shares are priceless. It really removed the stress of starting from scratch when I was ready to pitch.
Also, from the community, I met a few other alumni who formed a collective to exhibit together at a virtual trade show."
You dream of seeing your art have a practical impact on the world by making products beautiful and fun
You’re working on building your portfolio or you already have one, but you’re not sure how to organize it
You feel like you need a structure for the business side of surface design because your artist’s brain doesn’t naturally work that way
You want to connect with surface designers at your level — those who know how to design but aren’t making a full-time living yet
You resonate with a to-the-point approach that balances reality-checks with upbeat encouragement (vs. fluffy “go after your dreams” style motivation)
Over the past decade, I slowly transitioned to my dream job as a full-time surface designer working for myself. Before that, I had a career as a graphic designer in email marketing (which was as boring as it sounds).
When I say “slowly transitioned”, I mean it! It was definitely not an overnight success.
One thing that did help? Though I’m an artist, the other part of me is a total numbers nerd, so I thrived on testing different approaches, documenting my results, and creating streamlined systems for myself.
Ultimately I arrived at the methods that led me to collaborations with brands like Papyrus, Cloud9 Fabrics, Pyrex, and Trader Joe’s — and seeing my designs on products in stores I shop at! Now, I teach these methods to other surface designers who would prefer to just borrow my analytical brain instead of figuring it out on their own (like I had to).
When does enrollment open next?
April 2023. Join the waitlist to be first in line!
Is there a time limit for course access? (Can I take my time or is there a set schedule?)
The course itself is completely self-paced, so you can go through it as quickly or slowly as you like depending on how you like to learn. There are 8-week and 12-week pacing calendars to follow if you want accountability to complete the course.
But if you can’t work through it all in 8-12 weeks, that’s okay. You will have lifetime access to the course content + quarterly LIVE calls to get support.
How much time do I need to complete this course?
The time commitment you’ll need every week depends on how quickly you want to work through the course and its resources.
My suggestion is one module per week (the modules range from 30-80 minutes to watch). And I’ve provided an 8-week and 12-week pacing calendar inside the course to give you suggested timelines for working through the content – including a few weeks of implementation so you can immediately put what you learn to use.
Still, I don’t want you to get too overwhelmed, so I encourage you to go at whatever pace you’re most comfortable with given your current schedule. Remember, you’ll always have access to this course and can revisit any video or resource anytime you need to.
How much does this course cost? Are there payment plans?
The course costs €650 to pay in full (approx. $675 USD), or you have the option to choose the 6-month payment plan at €125/month (approx. $130 USD) for 6 months (total €750, approx. $800 USD).
Do you offer refunds?
Yes, within the first two weeks of class.
Do you teach how to design in this course?
No; this course is about pitching your completed work to companies.
Can I take this course if I already have some art licensing deals?
Yes. If you’re established but not happy about how much work you’re getting OR you want to be more organized in your business, then Pitch Your Portfolio will be useful.
Will this help me if I don’t live in the US?
Absolutely! Pitch Your Portfolio has alumni from more than 25 countries, from Australia to Germany to Malaysia, who have used what they learned to further their design careers.
Will this help me get freelance work or is it just for licensing?
Yes, what you learn in Pitch your Portfolio applies to getting freelance work as well.
The process for finding and contacting companies for licensing vs. freelance client work is very similar, so this course will help you no matter what your focus is and you’ll find several examples of both throughout the modules.
How much art do I need before I’m ready for this course?
A lot less than you think. If you have a portfolio with 10 good designs, you have enough – yes, really!
Do you provide captions or transcripts for course videos?
Yes! Every course video has captions and downloadable transcriptions available to make it easier for you to learn the material in whatever way works best for you.
There’s also a full course workbook you can download or print out so you can follow along through each module.
What’s the difference between Pitch Your Portfolio and Artful Pricing? Which one should I take?
What’s the difference between this course and other surface design business courses from other designers?
The biggest difference is that Pitch Your Portfolio is a deep dive into one specific (vital) business skill for surface designers: Finding & successfully pitching your work to companies.
Other surface design business courses broadly share how to launch a surface design career through various business models, and many even start at teaching the craft of design for complete beginners. This is helpful if you’re just starting out and want an overview…. But in my experience, if you already know how to design, mastering pitching is what will help you start earning money faster.
Because we go deep, everyone walks away with an actionable plan that generates income. Not just a bunch of knowledge (which can feel overwhelming to implement).
What if I have more questions before I sign up?