Milan Art Mastery Program Review Part 1

Being an artist is a lifelong learning experience. If at any point you think you know everything there is to know, honestly you’re probably wrong. I’ve always enjoyed learning new things about art and it’s easier now than it ever has been to access the minds and talents of people globally with the invention of online courses. I’ve recently decided to expand my creative skills and I’m going back to school. More specifically, I’ve signed up for the Milan Art Mastery Program and I wanted to share my experience with you here. 

Please Note: This is not a sponsored post. I am not being paid or compensated in any way for the information and opinions shared in the blog post.

How I Discovered the Program

Instagram ads work folks. Honestly, I mostly just ignore them but for some reason, this one spoke to me. I had never heard of artist Elli Milan or the Mastery Program before seeing the ad in my Instagram feed. At least not that I can honestly recall. The ad was promoting a free webinar that would give advice on what made art sellable. Now, as someone who just released a book about Money Making Methods for Artists, I’m always interested in gaining more knowledge on that topic to stay on top of things and you can’t beat a free price tag. 

Usually, the deal with free webinars is there is a big pitch at the end for a higher ticket course or product. I went in already deciding I wasn’t going to sign up for whatever it was because I’ve rarely been motivated to in others. I did come super close once with someone else I had bought a few less expensive courses from before and then found out the big course they were offering was $10,000. I thought I was perfect for that program, but after finding out how much it would cost I proceeded to try and hold in my tears and frankly shock. I’m not saying that person wasn’t offering value that made it worth the price tag, but also who has that kind of money laying around???

Not me friends! 

screen grab of the Mastery Program home page
©Milan Art Institute

What Got Me Hooked

What impressed me immediately about the Milan Art webinar was that the production and content value was high. I actually came away from it feeling like I had received really great free information I had never heard before anywhere else. Despite my earlier reservations, when the course pitch came at the end I was actually interested. Not only do Elli and her team have the credentials to back up their knowledge and success but they seem real and honestly likable. Professional but not overly rehearsed or putting on a fake enthusiasm. 

Surprisingly, the course they were offering (The Mastery Program) was really affordable given what they are covering. The Mastery Program is essentially a crash course in art school but they actually teach you how to be an artist at the end and you can do it all in about one year. As someone who took a 4-year bachelor’s degree program at an art school and spent tens of thousands of dollars, I would have loved to have had access to something like this back then. In all fairness, I don’t regret my experience though and I also majored in graphic design so this program will be a refresher of my fine arts foundation year plus more. 

Related: Why I Went to Art School

Elli Milan founder of the Milan Art Institute and the Mastery Program
Founder of The Milan Art Institute, Artist Elli Milan with examples of her artwork. Artwork and Images ©Elli Milan

Despite being affordably priced (in USD) the exchange rate from USD to CAD was still going to hurt on this purchase, so I wasn’t immediately sold. Luckily for me, enrolment wasn’t even open yet so I joined the no-obligation wait list that would send you value-packed emails in the meantime. This was actually a super smart marketing move on their part. I didn’t feel pressured to make an immediate decision to get “the deal” like how many of the common marketing strategists advise that you position your sales pages. The Milan Art team absolutely delivered in the subsequent emails providing both informative and inspiring content. 

They even have a whole email and free PDF booklet that gives you ideas on how to pay for the course. This is part of why I say they have done their research. A clearly common objection for artists to take this course would be not being able to afford it. Rather than giving people the old “stop going to Starbucks every day” answer, they provided tangible and creative ways for someone to start funding their education. This also serves as a gateway for getting you into the “making money as an artist” mindset.

Going All-In

By midweek I was counting the days until enrolment was open. I was sort of surprised at my own enthusiasm, to be honest. This also made me feel like I was making the right choice. I spent a good amount of time researching them and the program to see if it was all too good to be true or not. Many of the artists I came across were young or inexperienced which is very much their target. I struggled to find anyone who reviewed them that was experienced as an artist going into it. They do, however, mention in their marketing that the program is still suitable for experienced or professional artists.

I was really impressed with everything I had found on them so far and there were plenty of positive reviews so ultimately I decided to go for it. In the best-case scenario I would get a great refresher on my skills as an artist, and learn how to work in mediums I’m not as familiar with, and maybe even find my artistic voice which is a highlight of what the course claims to teach you.

Worst-case scenario, as a course creator myself, I would learn some best practices on how they put everything together as a successfully selling course. Either way, it seemed like it would be a worthy investment in my time, and by purchasing the course for the full amount I would get access to everything immediately, as well as lifetime access.

Dimitra Milan, instructor for the Mastery Program
Director, Co-Owner, and Artist Dimitra Milan with examples of her artwork. Images and Artwork ©Dimitra Milan

Given the production value and the fact they have their own social media app as well as branded art supplies, it led me to believe they must be doing really well at this. Those things are all super expensive so someone who wasn’t successful at what they were doing wouldn’t be able to maintain any of it. I also really loved the style of Elli and her daughter Dimitra’s artwork. I’ve been looking at finding ways to elevate and become more expressive in my own artwork so this felt like a good fit to me in many ways.

Getting Started

What was really apparent to me when I received access to the online course and everything leading up to it, was that they are very organized, strategic and clearly have listened to feedback from artists who have taken the program before. The Mastery Program originally existed only in-person so whether through that or since the program has been online it was clear to me that they have thought this all through. Don’t have the supplies needed for the course? No problem, they have supplies available through their website with everything you need. There are also plenty of supplemental resources either through blog posts, replays of free webinars or downloadable pdfs.

I didn’t choose to purchase their art supply bundles because I have a lot of the supplies required apart for the items needed for oil painting. Again the USD to CAD exchange would have been painful so I opted to buy those items myself here in Canada. That was quite the adventure for another blog post. It should be noted that especially as someone not living in the United States if you choose to invest in this program it’s still going to cost you roughly probably what a semester of art school here in Canada would cost you. I want to reiterate though that learning from artists who actually make a living and are successful at what they do AND are willing to share that with others is ultimately priceless.

Art supplies needed for the Mastery Program
A sample of products that are available through the Milan Art Supply Store. Images ©Milan Art Institute

The introduction section of the course was really great and allows you to get to know Both Dimitra and Elli who primarily teach the lessons. I felt a kinship to Elli right away who also grew up with a very Greek father with some dated ideas about what women’s “job” in life should be. Oddly enough I had a feeling she might be Greek given that her children have Greek names. A funny side story about that, my Dad used to always call out if someone in movie credits had a Greek last name which I used to find super eye-rolling, and ironically I find myself doing the same thing now. I don’t feel a particular affinity to support other people of my culture blindly, but her story made me feel like she probably would get me in a different way than many would.

Another thing I wanted to mention was that the Mastery Program does offer paid-for private or group mentoring with other artists who have also taken the Mastery Program. We had a free orientation ZOOM call that we could sign up for with one of the Mentors. The purpose of the call was for anyone to be able to ask questions and also give people more information on the mentorship options available. I was surprised to find a good mix of international representation on the call as well as ages and people who were beginners, hobbyists, and more experienced.

examples of the instructors' artwork for the Mastery Program
©Milan Art Institute

I have opted to not sign up for the additional mentoring, but I think this is a very valuable resource that they offer especially for people taking the program that are inexperienced. Again it feels very apparent to me that they have thought things through and want to set their students up for success which is great to see. While the additional cost is not ideal for some, what that says to me is that they are paying the artists who are mentoring for their time which is a good thing and should absolutely be the case.

You can always post on the ArtSocial platform for feedback if you want. There are paid tiers to the social platform as well that include additional resources and access to extra content. I haven’t found people super active over there but I did get one of my questions answered fairly quickly by another user.

First Impressions

As of the writing of this post, I’m just diving into the first week of lessons. What’s cool about how they have it all set up is that everything is accessible by logging into ArtSocial. That means you can access the social platform, any resources, and the course itself all through your desktop or the mobile app.

The video lengths and sections are a digestible time length and I love the extra resources that are attached to each section. I’ve barely scratched the surface of the Mastery Program and I’m already impressed. As an experienced artist, it makes me really happy to be taking a program that is largely marketed more toward beginners and finding that I’m still learning new things even on subjects that I have previous experience in.

The course is broken up into four main sections, so my plan is to do an update post at each stage to discuss the sections in more detail, what I learned, and what the value level is for someone who is not a beginner. I mentioned earlier that I couldn’t find a whole lot of experienced artists who have already been to art school reviewing this program. The ones I did find were directly associated with Milan Art as either a mentor or a co-owner (aka a family member or with the last name Milan). My goal is to provide a balanced review for someone like me who may be interested in the program in the future.

screen grab of ArtSocial
©Milan Art Institute

Final Thoughts

To be really honest, there was part of me that thought about not sharing any of this publicly. I was worried that other artists or creatives who have been following my content would perhaps think less of me. Why would someone who is trying to be a voice of knowledge and authority on the subject of art be taking a course like this, right?

What I came to remind myself of is exactly what I mentioned in the opening paragraph of this post. Being an artist IS a lifelong learning experience. The majority of what I have learned being a graphic designer came from work experience and self-directed study. What I was taught in art school was just a fraction of what I needed to know. So why would it be any different when it came to my artistic journey?

I have been so grateful for the people who have taken the time to show me how to do something when it came to the software that I use or challenged me to push myself creatively when it came to design. Many of us have had mentors whether official or unofficial in our careers that have helped us grow and become more proficient at what we are doing. I look at this opportunity as the same thing. Learning from others to expand your skills or knowledge at any stage of your career is not a bad thing.

I’m looking forward to the next year and to what I learn and discover about myself and my art through the Mastery Program. Does this mean I’m abandoning all of my other creative pursuits? Heck NO! I love a good multi-tasking challenge. I’m confident that I will be a better artist, teacher, and creative person in general after experiencing this.

I hope you’re excited to go on this journey with me!


Barb Sotiropoulos

Barb Sotiropoulos

I’m a Canadian artist and designer specializing in coloured pencil and mixed media. When I’m not creating art, I love helping other artists by sharing tips and tricks that have helped me. You can find me on all of my social channels @barbsotiart or check out my past Q&A articles for COLORED PENCIL Magazine or my co-hosting appearances on the Sharpened Artist Colored Pencil Podcast.

8 Responses

  1. I’m seriously considering signing up when it opens again next week. Thanks for your in-depth review… I was also having a hard time finding unbiased reviews, so I appreciate this. Hopefully the cons you mentioned in another comment aren’t serious enough to warrant not signing up.

    1. Hi Cheverly! Thanks for your comment and I’m glad you found this review helpful. Just to give you a bit of insight some the cons just have to do with the cost of supplies but that will vary depending on where you live. If you’re in the States and are starting from scratch supply wise I would recommend buying the packages they offer. A lot of the courses are taught with the specific supplies that are in those kits. You can still do it without but in my opinion it requires some prior familiarity with these types of materials and art in general to improvise. So for example, I’m using water-mixable oils and they teach with traditional oils. Some of the colours they use like the radiants aren’t available in the water mixable brand I bought so I had to mix those colours myself or use something similar. Hope that helps!

  2. Thanks for your review of the program Barb. A friend of mine sent me the link for the program today and I wasn’t convinced that it wasn’t just a money grab until I saw your unbiased thoughts on the program. I will be signing up for the course today (in CAD) 💕🍁

    1. Hi Rhonda! I’m so glad you found it helpful! I know there’s so much out there now, I understand your skepticism. Feel free to find me on Art Social or Instagram. I’m happy to connect with you on any questions. I’m almost through the first section and loving it so far!

  3. I’m curious to know how it’s going… I’m thinking of joining the program and would like an unbiased review.

    1. Hi Sherri! I’m just about through the first section and will have a review for that coming very soon. Overall I’m very happy with my experience so far but I will definitely cover some of the pros and cons in my full review.

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Hey, I'm Barb!

I’m a Canadian artist and designer specializing in coloured pencil and mixed media. When I’m not creating art, I love helping other artists by sharing tips and tricks that have helped me. You can find me on all of my social channels @barbsotiart or check out my past Q&A articles for COLORED PENCIL Magazine or my co-hosting appearances on the Sharpened Artist Colored Pencil Podcast.

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