Pattern Observer - Grow Your Textile Design & Surface Design Business
At Pattern Observer they strive to help you grow your textile design business through our informative articles, interviews, tutorials, workshops and our private design community, The Textile Design Lab.
Chelsea’s Challenge is our monthly design challenge in the Textile Design Lab, in which we provide inspiration and trend direction for anyone who is feeling stuck about what to design, or just wants to work through the pattern development process within a supportive group. Throughout the month Lab members receive feedback from their peers and our team of experts, workshopping their designs until they arrive at a completed collection of 3-5 patterns by the end of the month. These professional, cohesive collections are then ready to be shown in their surface pattern design portfolios, and presented to clients for sale or license.
During the month of April our Chelsea’s Challenge focused on kitchen towels and linens, which was such a fun opportunity for our members to explore a variety of motifs, colors, and techniques, and allowed lots of room for their own personality and artistic style. Today we are delighted to share a small sampling of these beautiful collections with you!
Marci B. Designs
“I zeroed in on wanting to design a collection intended for the “family” market. This is the common theme that stood out to me as I was sketching thumbnails. It is the reason that I love food. Food IS family, food fills the soul, food is joyful, food is a festival of colors, and nowadays, food is a fusion of cultures. I wanted to keep the motifs simple to allow bright colors and simple hand drawn motifs to reflect this. I used brushes in procreate and had to work doubly hard to make it look hand done! The icons were then manipulated into pattern within PS and quite a few filters to manipulate the plaids on the towels.”
“I’m often inspired by different techniques or tools, and in this case it was the digital watercolor brushes in Photoshop! I tried several techniques and styles and settled on this watercolor version. Then I grouped the fruit to create the main pattern and added a border for the towel. I continued with the watercolor technique for the stripes and plaid. These designs were created for kitchen towels.”
“My Tossed Salad Tea Towel Collection was inspired by vegetable shapes and the cross cut patterns found when various vegetables are sliced apart when making a salad. Green, pinks are earth tones work to stitch the different designs together. My style is simple in design and created in Adobe Illustrator vector drawing. The tea towels were designed with the kitchen decor market in mind, appealing to a customer looking for a modern graphic presentation.”
What a joy I experienced when I first got to see the work of graphic designer Erika Szép-Bíró. Her styles are so unique and the motifs she creates are not only adorable, but also create a lovely story just through the details in the scenery surrounding them. Because of all these things, I was excited to learn more about Erika.
When I asked her to share a bit about her background, she said: “I was born in Budapest 1985, where I still live today. During this time, I had a short 4-year bypass to the University of Kaposvár, working on my Visual Communication/Textile art major.”
Since graduation, Erika has been nonstop with the types of projects she is involved in. She told me, “After getting my diploma I started working at a media agency and as a package designer. Currently, I am illustrating and designing patterns for many kinds of companies. I also run a webshop called www.theprintedfox.com with my husband, who is also a designer. One other thing I am involved in that I immensely enjoy is my small fashion brand, which I run with two of my talented seamstress friends. I design the pattern and they make the clothes and bags. All these things make for exciting and busy days. I love that I am constantly creating.”
With the unique motifs and distinct style that Erika designs, I was curious about her thoughts regarding how she works. She shared: “I try to endeavor uniqueness and the utility of symbols in my work. If I am designing by order then I am trying to find the solutions that fit best with the customers personality, which means we will talk a lot. I am also inspired by my love of reading and playing! I like the creatively made fantasy or sci-fi worlds, which is why they often find their way into my works, as well.”
On the topic of process, Erika says, “I tend to draw some sketches by hand and after I get everything, I then digitalize the sketches in Inkscape. I think using traditional media is very important.”
With Erika’s passion and involvement in so many areas, she remains focused on a big dream she has, which is “to succeed with my love project TöBBMINTA. Right now, we’re doing our second collection, the first one was loved by the people. This is also true in the case of our family business webshop: The Printed Fox.”
Two lovely and distinct features of Danielle Broder’s work are the simplicity of it and the hand-crafted quality. There are enchanting subtle inconsistencies and variations in each piece.
We asked Danielle to give us some insight into how she came into her work as a printmaker and this is what she shared with us: “I’ve always been an artist. I studied illustration and interior design in college, but never learned printmaking while there. I was playing around with fabrics and found a tutorial on block printing online one day. After experimenting with getting my patterns onto the fabric, I started my company, The Recoverie, where I sold small prints and pillows at art shows and in shops. These days I teach my process to adults weekly and work with interior designers to create custom handprinted projects like upholstery, pillows, and drapery.” There are many fortunate people who can learn from Danielle’s expertise!
When it comes to process, this is how Danielle goes about creating her amazing prints: “All of the photos are original patterns I designed, hand carved, then block printed onto fabric. My process varies, although here’s what I’ve been doing lately: 1) I sketch first; 2) then edit and color in Illustrator; 3) scale and print the pattern; and then 4) transfer the image to a block. After this, I carve out the design, custom mix the inks, do a few test prints, and then print a yard or so for swatches.” And when it comes to the inspiration for these patterns, Danielle says, “I get inspiration from architecture, tiles, nature, and lots of other places.”
With so many exciting things happening for Danielle and her work today, we wanted to learn a bit more about what she has in mind for tomorrow. She says, “In the future, I’d love to do more interior design projects or even a wall mural. Block printing is a really fun hands-on way to express your creativity, and I think it pairs well with digital design and getting a unique handmade look.”
Brenda Manley Designs is a fun studio with lots of exciting work. They have a wide range of styles, from Emma Schoenenberg’s painterly designs to the fun illustrative style of Alyssa Kay’s work.
Brenda started out with intensive experience in the paper tableware industry, having worn the hats of Art Director, Art Buyer, plus Designer & Production Artist. “When I started this phase of my career, my plan was to freelance full time on my own. Along the way, I met emerging talents that excited me. When the thought of combining this talent with my natural eye for art direction came to light, the agency formed naturally in a fluid manner.
“Today, I am both humbled and honored to represent a group of wildly talented designers. Their roots span the globe from El Salvador, United Kingdom, Canada, the Netherlands, and the USA. They create surface pattern designs for home decor, apparel, gift, and stationery industries, with styles ranging from young and whimsical to elegant and traditional.” The studio licenses, sells, and welcomes commissions.
Pattern by Bex Morley
What Brenda has brought together is truly incredible. “Our vision is to develop loyal relationships with our clients and grow our businesses. We have a mission to be the favorite agency for others by providing fresh, creative design solutions and delivering technically correct digital files in a timely fashion. I am an artist first; a buyer second. With valuable experience in both areas, I excel at connecting the artists/artwork I represent and the clients I get to serve.” As a designer, we can all appreciate the value of this!
Brenda also adds, “We pride ourselves on creating with the most current trends. We cannot wait to share them with you! We are bringing narwhals, unicorns, and mermaids for the younger markets and a contemporary collection of florals, geometrics, and global artwork for the textile industries!”
Remember, this year’s Surtex is February 3-6, 2019, at the Javits Center in New York City. Make sure you stop by Brenda Manley Designs Booth #3375 to take a look at all the talented designer represented by her studio. If you can’t make it to the show or crave more, visit her website.
What really appeals to me about Margie’s work is how fun and feminine it is. I view it as a celebration of life, and I am thrilled that she’ll be returning to Surtex this year!
Margie shared this with me about her environment and experiences: “Hiya! I’m a surface pattern designer and illustrator in New Orleans, LA. In my work I strive to find magic in the ordinary. My collection of patterns and illustrations are meant for children, their grownups, and the playful at heart. I grew up on the banks of the Mississippi River in Natchez, swinging from vines on camping trips with my dad and fishing for catfish and trout with my brother. After attending the Savannah College of Art and Design, I moved to New Orleans, where I have lived for the past 16 years.
“The city of NO has taught me so much about resilience in the face of adversity, and about maintaining a sense of humor to get through the hard times. I always hope to embody this spirit in my work. I march with an all-female dancing Krewe during the Muses parade in New Orleans to the music of the Stooges Brass Band, as well as with the first Latino dancing Krewe in New Orleans: The Ritmeaux Krewe.” Margie’s lively interests definitely shows through in her work.
When it comes to technique, Margie shared her process with us. “I use a couple of different techniques. Some of the designs are hand painted. Many of the designs were made in Procreate. I also drawing more and more in vector. It’s hard to pinpoint one inspiration, but if I am to pick an overarching theme, it would be rhythm. I am a dancer at heart and love to try to mimic a beat visually.”
With this year’s Surtex, Margie is going to really bring some interesting work. She says, “I’ll be showing lots of holiday illustrations and patterns, florals, and origami inspired artwork. These are heavily influenced by the wild imaginations of my two young boys and the flora and fauna of the equally effervescent tropical vegetation of New Orleans.
“In 2019, I want to count my blessings more often. I want to soak up every moment with my kids, my friends, and my husband as if there might be no tomorrow. I want to spend my time more with the people that make my spirit sing :). All of this inspires my work every day.”
Remember, this year’s Surtex is happening NOW, February 3-6, 2019, at the Javits Center in New York City. Make sure you take the time to visit Booth #3578 so you can see Margie Tillman Ayres work. If you want to see more of her awe-inspiring creations, visit her website.
It was a pleasure to meet Michele Pulver Feldman at the 2018 Surtex and I’m thrilled she is back as an exhibitor! Her work is creative and fresh—a perfect fit for home decor and kitchen products.
Michele is a graduate of Parsons School of Design, and I was curious about her thoughts on design. This is what she shared: “I am a mixed media artist who loves color and is not afraid to use it! I believe in “serendipitous creativity.” Since the beginning of my career, my work has never been tied to a specific artistic style. Instead, I use varied media to create my art. I create artwork that expresses my love of art history but also celebrates and reflects modern life. Inspired by Matisse, Picasso, Monet, Tiffany, and Hockney, the pieces I create are often unexpected and whimsical.”
The application of different mediums is one thing quite distinct about Michele’s work. When I asked her about it, she said, “My vivid hand painted mixed media art has been used in a wide range of applications, including editorial illustration, home furnishings, giftware, and paper goods/greeting cards.”
So inspiring! Speaking of which, Michelle “enjoys living in colorful Southern New England with my family and my dog, who is my studio companion and reminds me every day to go out and the smell flowers, or the snow, depending on the season.
“The inspiration behind the designs is quite simple. I always see hearts and peace signs in nature. One day I was drawing a pineapple and I realized there were so many inverted peace signs in its skin. From there, I looked at other fruit to see what else I could see. I used a variety of techniques, gouache, watercolor, and paper cuts.”
When asked about this year’s plans for presenting at Surtex, Michelle said, “I am bringing a wide variety of work. I have been creating focal point illustrations for my greeting card line for many years, so I will have a mixture of focal point illustrations and my new surface texture designs. Showing at Surtex is a wonderful way to expand my horizons. After working in the stationery market for many years, I want to try to sell my work in different markets. There’s no better place than Surtex to begin this process!”
Remember, this year’s Surtex is February 3-6, 2019, at the Javits Center in New York City. Make sure you stop by Michele Pulver Feldman’s Booth #3980 to enjoy her amazing work. If you can’t make it to the show or want to see more of her great work, visit her website.
At last year’s Surtex, I saw Sarah Von Dreele’s work and instantly fell in love with her lovely watercolors. They are light, airy, dreamlike, and gorgeous!
When it comes to training and experiences, Sarah shared this with us: “I studied Graphic Design at Rhode Island School of Design and have been a creative director for various design firms, including my own brand consultancy, onethread design, since 2003. Three years ago, I began painting in gouache as a counterpoint to my corporate career. About 800 paintings later…. here we are!”
There is clearly so much inspiration in Sarah’s work and we wanted to know how she connected with that. She says, “While spending the summer at our beach cottage, my daughter and I spent a lot of time along the water. Living on a barrier island several miles out to sea, I am aware of sudden and subtle shifts in landscape, be it a shift in the wind, the arrival of fall light, or an approaching storm line. Many of the pieces presented this year reflect those observations.
“Additionally, this year’s body of work encompasses a greater focus on modern abstraction and fluidity. While I continue to explore graphic form and patterns inherent in nature, the majority of the collection at Surtex includes simpler geometric repetitions and softer color palettes.”
Sarah’s work promises to be just as amazing this year! Remember, this year’s Surtex is February 3-6, 2019, at the Javits Center in New York City. Make sure you take the time to visit Booth #3775 so you can see Sarah Von Dreele’s work. If you want to see more work before or after the show, you can also visit her Instagram page.
Something distinct you’ll notice about Katy’s work is her beautiful artistic style which is expressed through wonderful colorways and yummy painterly textures. The Surtex crowd is going to love it!
Katy Dika is a New England based surface and soft goods designer who trained at the Rhode Island School of Design, where she earned a BA from the Apparel Design Department. She also teaches there to this day and is the curator for the Edna Lawrence Nature Lab, a Natural History Museum at the school.
Her influences for her design work are drawn from many areas, including mid-century surface design, as well as patterns that occur in nature. Katy has long been fascinated by insects. One memory she shared with us is this: “As a young girl in the woods of Pennsylvania, where the Appalachian Trail ran through my backyard, I learned to morph an initial fear of insects and spiders into a healthy lifelong curiosity. Today, this has passed down to my young daughter.”
One thing that has captured our attention is Katy’s current body of work, which is titled #itscomplicated. We asked her about her inspiration for this line and she shared, “This body of work reflects back to my travels in Australia and New Zealand in 2003 and 2004 as a Thomas J. Watson fellow. During this time, I studied with entomologists across both countries, diving deeply into topics such as sexually deceptive orchids and the wasps they trick into “mating” with them, and tiny micro Lepidoptera— moths whose larvae create gorgeous patterns on the leaves they feed on.” We can see these topics visualized in Katy’s pleasing repeating patterns, which offer more than aesthetic appeal alone. They give us a peak into the complex lives of insects and the plants they love.
At this year’s Surtex, Katy will be bringing tropical fruit, mushrooms, moths, butterflies, beetles, eggs, moons, and more! We asked Katy about her thoughts regarding her first time showing at Surtex. She said, “In my past life I used to buy art at Surtex, Printsource, and Premierevision. I’m super excited to be on the other side of the table this year!”
Remember, this year’s Surtex is February 3-6, 2019, at the Javits Center in New York City. Make sure you stop by Katy Dika’s Booth #3278 to enjoy her amazing talents. If you can’t make it to the show or crave seeing more of her work, you can also visit her website.
It was easy for me to be drawn in to Nicole Miller’s subtle color palette, beautiful watercolor illustrations, and distinct style. They really give her an edge for standing apart.
When asked how her journey developed, Nicole shared: “I grew up drawing and painting on anything, constantly dreaming up my perfect garden, and spending hours baking all sorts of cookies and treats. Creating has always brought so much peace to me.
“After I graduated from a small Christian school, I went to my hometown community college in Sarasota/Bradenton, Florida, where I learned all about graphic design and art. My last semester of college I interned with Shannon Kirsten, where she taught me so many valuable skills and lessons. I loved working in her studio and learning from her, and once I was done with college, I realized I wanted to work for myself.”
We had to know, why was working for herself so important to do right away? Nicole said, “There’s a freedom in being able to create artwork for other people to enjoy and I couldn’t wait to get started. In the Spring of 2018 I created my business, Cole Dawn Designs. Since then, I have had the opportunity to create wedding invitations, a line of greeting cards, watercolor art prints, custom projects, and a line of watercolor patterns I will be showing at Surtex!”
A lot of Nicole’s work is watercolor, and we wondered why. She said, “I mainly use watercolor to design my prints and patterns. I’ve included some patterns, paintings in progress, art prints, fabric patterns, custom cards for a client, and me in my little studio I like to call my home. At this year’s Surtex I will be bringing a variety of patterns, most of all which are watercolor and floral. There are some monochromatic patterns, succulents and cacti, florals and polka dots, and animal inspired patterns, as well.”
It’s obvious Nicole’s been very busy, to which she adds, “Honestly, my goal this year is to never stop creating, even if it is just for myself. Sometimes it’s surprising what happens when you least expect it.”
Remember, this year’s Surtex is February 3-6, 2019, at the Javits Center in New York City. Make sure you stop by Nicole Miller’s Booth #4081 to enjoy her beautiful work. If you want to view more of her work before or after the show, visit her Instagram page.