UPB Graduate Interview: Lisa Lane

Lisa Lane Profile Pic


We are excited to bring you a series of designer interviews over the next couple of weeks from students who recently graduated from The Ultimate Portfolio Builder.

Today we share an interview with the wonderfully talented Lisa Lane. Watch out for her video testimonial at the end too!

  • When did your interest in design first start and how did that come about?

I’ve loved creating art since I was a kid, and always knew I wanted to do something with it for a career. My second love after art was fashion, so after earning my BA in Art I went to graduate school to major in Textiles & Clothing where I learned about the wonderful world of textile design.  I was so excited to learn that designing artwork for fabrics was a real job people got paid to do!  It was the perfect blend of my 2 passions.

Lisa Lane Art Collage 1

  • What steps did you take to get to where you are now as a designer?

After graduating with my Master’s degree, I moved from Iowa to Los Angeles, CA and did an accelerated program at the Art Institute to earn a diploma in Computer Aided Design because they had a great job placement program in the industry. I did a couple of unpaid internships to gain experience and build my portfolio, then got a textile/graphic design job for a small but influential clothing company during that year. I got promoted rather quickly when the main graphic designer left, then 2 years later I got a job with JCPenney in TX designing prints and graphics for their little girl’s clothing lines, which I did for 5 years. I became the Trend Manager at JCP for the children’s department, then later moved back to L.A. to work in home décor, where I designed nursery bedding and décor.

Lisa Lane Art Collage 2

  • How would you describe your style?

Probably along the lines of artistically playful. Since most of my career has been in the children’s market, it’s naturally lent itself to that. It’s been fun to see how my style has evolved from when I was designing for other brands vs. when I design for my own purposes. I’ve found myself doing more Photoshop painting vs. graphic Illustrator work, so most has a hand drawn/painted look, and also do more photorealistic digital animal paintings with a twist.

JA Whale

  • What kind of designer do you want to be known as?

I like to make people smile with my artwork…whether it’s a laugh from one of my hipster animal graphics, a personalised pet portrait, or bedding/decor used in a child’s bedroom that becomes part of a family’s lives, I like to leave a positive impact with my art.

JCP big girls1

  • What are you working on currently?

The last 2 months after UPB were pretty busy working on various projects, including creating artwork to sell at the August Printsource show in NYC with a new design studio, ZoeJo Design, which was started by a friend/former co-worker from JCP. I was also in two art gallery shows in a month, one in L.A. and one in San Francisco showing some of my digital animal paintings. I have just finished working this week on a collaborative adult colouring book with #BareNakedBravery where each artist did two colouring pages based on self-empowering/encouraging quotes, which will be available on Amazon soon. And at the very moment, I’m on the Make it in Design Summer School’s Intermediate/Advanced tracks while also working on some prints for a client!

Boy nursery

  • What advice would you give emerging designers wanting to build their portfolios?

I would say when you’re first starting out, it helps to work with a job agency that can get you freelance jobs to build your credentials in your portfolio, so it’s not just school projects, but real life examples of what you did. They may take a big chunk of the pay, but it’s worth it because you’re building connections with companies as well. In fact, I just had a request this week from an accessory company I worked with a while ago who remembered me from work I had done for them through an agency!

Further, I would recommend continually practicing your skills, whether it’s drawing or computer design skills, and on-line courses such as Make it in Design’s Summer School and Ultimate Portfolio Builder are great for that. I also love Skillshare, Creativebug, and YouTube videos for learning tips/tricks/new skills you can use in your portfolio!


  • What would be your dream design gig?

I used to say my dream was “Designing for a big national brand at corporate”…well I did that, and now my dream is to not go back to corporate, but rather make a nice living and get exposure doing my own art through commissions and possibly licensing!

Girl nursery

  • Looking ahead what are your major goals for the next couple of years?

I think anytime you can do something to give back is when your life also is enriched, so with that in mind, I am working on starting a custom pet portrait business that incorporates textile design into the digital painting, and I’d like to give a portion of each sale to animal welfare/rescue groups and shelters. I’m starting with the one I got my late rescue dog from and their patrons. I’d love to get my wall art hung in some local stores in Hollywood (where I live), and maybe even on a tv/movie set (I’ve seen child actresses wear my clothes on the small and big screen already)! I also envision going back to my teaching roots and creating an on-line class on digital painting and design.

JCP little girls1

  • If you were a pattern what kind of a pattern would you be and why?

I’d say a damask that is made up of non-traditional elements…. because I come across as pretty traditional looking on the outside, but upon deeper inspection once you know me you’ll find I’m layered with a few elements that could surprise you (for example I listen to hard rock/metal music which people never guess)!

The Ultimate Portfolio Builder

  • What was the most important lesson you took away from UPB?

Sometimes people get in a rut doing what they know or are comfortable with in design. UPB challenges you to get out of your comfort zone through fun exercises that can change how you traditionally work. For example, if your work is usually classic, they ask you to restyle to make it contemporary (or another style). This is one way that UPB helped me branch out from doing the more graphic style I was used to doing, to discovering how much I love creating organic looking paintings in Photoshop. This in turn helped develop the personal style I felt I had been missing before.

The Ultimate Portfolio Builder helped develop the personal style I felt I had been missing

  • What difference did it make to have a supportive community of fellow students and how important do you think that will be going forward?

The Facebook group is really amazing to connect with people from all over the world whom all have a common passion in art and textile design! By the end of the course I felt like I’d made new friends who were so supportive and helpful, and I hope I get the opportunity to meet whomever I can someday, whether it’s at a print show, or traveling! Many of these people also become your champions after the class if you connect on Instagram, on FB as friends, or in real life! I actually joined Instagram during the period that I took UPB and connected with so many others from class, it was inspiring to see everyone’s progress pics via the #makeitindesign and similar hashtags, and it’s like having a built in engaging network of artists with common goals, which is wonderful!


  • Please tell us about your experience of the live briefs and student work reviews.

I loved the live briefs, as they challenged us to use our styles in real world applications, such as designing pillows, cards, and wallpaper for those types of companies. They were voted on by social media and their customers and was not limited to UPB students, so competition was global and tough, but a good lesson in designing for various markets, and also in asking people to support your work, which was a new concept for me! It was great to see the art mocked up for the briefs, and learn how to create mock-ups in the course via a masterclass on the subject.

The work for the student portfolio reviews were submitted within the first 2 weeks of class, but reviewed towards the end of the course, so it was interesting to see how much my style had developed even during that time period. The student reviews were really thoughtful and helpful with ideas on how to build cohesive collections.

Lisa Lane – ABSPD The Ultimate Portfolio Builder Testimonial – June 2016 from Make It In Design on Vimeo.

Lisa Lane Profile PicLisa’s career in art began as an art teacher after earning a B.A. in Art & Art Ed. She later went to graduate school and earned her Master’s degree in Textiles & Clothing where she discovered her love of textile design, and taught fashion design courses to college students in Iowa before moving to Los Angeles and entering the corporate fashion design world. Lisa has designed for and managed multi-million dollar brands, launched new brands and products, and lead trend direction for various national brands, predominantly in the Children’s industry. After 10 years’ experience designing for major apparel and home companies such as JCPenney, Target, and Babies R’ Us, Lisa began her own freelancing company, Lisa Lane Designs, in 2015.

Website | Instagram | Facebook | Pinterest

MIID_UPB_150PX_LRAmazed by what you hear and see from our talented students? Join our next class of The Ultimate Portfolio Builder which starts September 5, 2016.






Print Friendly, PDF & Email

    Have any questions?