A Year of Exploring Surface Pattern Design!

showing a collection of Pattern Designs, vector, created by Meg Marchiando
my first complete vector collection using illustrator

A full year of exploring Surface Pattern Design!

Today Aug 27th marks 1 year since I made my first repeat pattern. You can read how that came about in my post ‘I’m going for Good Enough’ all of 7 posts ago… I was feeling like I wasn’t moving fast enough and I’m still fairly unfocused at this point, but then I saw that I’ve only been at this for a year… I think I can cut myself some slack.

I had such good intentions of sharing the journey of becoming a surface pattern designer! I have been so deep in the process I forgot to write about it!

It’s been a pretty intense year. I’ve gone from having a vague idea of how to become a Surface Pattern Designer to becoming one. Originally the plan was to be a textile designer but the path I’ve taken has led me to so much more than textiles. 

In December 2018, after 4 months of learning only on youtube and skillshare, I decided to take a course and see if this is what I really wanted to do. I signed up for a class with Make it in Design out of the UK. They opened my eyes wide on many of the  directions I could go with this change of medium for my artwork, and I was ready to dive in. I’m still working through their classes learning more about finding my style, following trends, marketing my work. I’m loving every minute of it!

In the beginning I struggled with my lack of skills in Adobe Illustrator. Somehow I was lucky enough to stumble upon Oksancia on Youtube who gave short but extremely helpful blips on how to work with Illustrator. I finished up my first Make it in Design class then decided I would spend some time learning how to really use Illustrator well. Magically, at the same time, Oksana opened up her Pattern it Up course and I decided that would be a better way to learn than to stumble around trying to figure it out on my own. That was April of 2019. It was the best decision I could have made. Her course was amazing and catapulted my new career ahead years. In the past 4 months I have gone from not knowing how to control the pen in illustrator to creating over 25 new repeat pattern and putting them up for sale on Spoonflower and with Microstock agencies. I’ve even made a few sales already!

Not bad for a years work really.


My Need for Order Satisfied

I doodle on everything and everywhere, my sketchbook is a mess and I wish I could have my illustrations organized so I can find them when I want them. I tried cutting them and pasting them in different files but it was still a disaster until… I ran across this genius idea.

I can now draw to my hearts content and when I like something I trace over it on tracing paper where I can even make little pages of one subject if I want. Then I can scan in and  easily  manipulate them in photoshop or illustrator. 

such a small idea. such a big impact. 

busy busy busy

I am neglecting everything I ‘should’ be doing and learning illustrator. The more I learn the more I love it! I hope to be churning out some patterns with Illustrator soon, I am absolutely loving the process of learning and knowing I’m putting my time to good use. Here are some practice bits that took me far longer than they look like they should have.

This time of year, for the last 4 years, I’ve also waded hip deep into costume making for a theater production. This year I’m responsible for dressing the orphans for a production of Annie. That means 7 nightgowns, 7 day dresses with smocks and bloomers and 6 simple party dresses. I thought I had it all under control but then I looked at the calendar… I have about 2 weeks to get that worked out (fortunately we got a bunch of that worked out at thrift stores). At the end of the month my daughter and I are headed East for a crazy intense week of college visits. No time to breath between now and April gotta go.

Fortunately I have a quilting retreat planned mid april where I hope I’ll recover and get a second wind. So much good stuff going on!

Patterns everywhere

black and white pattern with lots of circles on a little wallet
fun little find

I spent the day shopping for costumes for a theater production of Annie with the head Costumer yesterday(the person with the big vision for the shows costumes and skills/talent for sewing amazing costumes). I get suckered in every year to do some sewing for the winter production (I love it so I’m not sure you can call it ‘suckered’). We hit as many thrift stores as we could find. I had expected to spend the day multi tasking, looking for costumes and observing patterns. I had planned to take photos of patterns I liked so I could analyze them when I got home. Trying to find my voice in pattern making includes finding what excites me in other peoples work.

We did an amazing job finding costumes and staying on budget. I, however, did a terrible job finding patterns. Two patterns are all that I brought home with me. I was very focused on the costumes for the orphans in Annie and they were solid dingy fabric mostly. I took one photo of a pattern on a shirt I sort of liked and I found this cute little purse. I checked the purse to see that my pens would fit in and I laid down an entire .53 cents for it. When I got home I went to transfer my usual pen collection over and discovered my Tombow Marker is a bit long :0). I’m calling it easy access and going with it. It was a fun day with a friend and I’m sure I fed my brain lots of inspiration that I’m not even aware of.

I didn’t promise every post would be exciting right?

Learning how to use illustrator

I spent the day doing taxes. It wasn’t very creative but it was productive. I got up early and set right to work on it. I’d like to say my taxes aren’t really that difficult but there is this thing, the job that I trade hours for money (unlike my art career). That job makes an adventure out of tax time.

Both my husband and I work from home. We work with people with special needs, helping them find and access resources. At the end of the year we get a seperate W-2 for each person we work with. Between the 2 of us, that meant 54 W-2’s this year. Can you imaging logging 54 jobs into your computer tax program? Better than hand writing them I guess. Most of the year it’s a pretty good gig, we get to meet amazing people, we laugh a lot, we cry a bit and we may even get a chance to make a difference. But then comes tax time. Each of these 54 W-2’s came in those envelope things that you have to tear each side off to get to the document, not envelopes that you can just use an opener on. (whine whine, that’s 216 sides I had to tear off, just sayin’ – If I’m going to whine I want to do it properly.)

Good news for me though, I had set aside 2 weeks to focus on the taxes. Somehow, I pulled it off on the first Tuesday. I think it’s fair to say I’ve learned some organizational skills related to tax time over the years.

Now I’ve opened up some time to learn Adobe Illustrator! I spent 6 or 7 hours on this 56 minute class from Helen Bradley on Skillshare – Stylish Doodles. This is one of the little bits that come out of it. So much to learn, so much joy of discovery! ahh, happy place.

It’s Not all Glamour and Glitz

lines of elements from doodling including circles, swirls, dots and lines as well as an evergreen branch and a dandelion puff

I was going to write a whole post about all the work I did over the weekend but I came across this quote from Jessica Savich and thought it did a pretty good job of summing up what I had to say. So Thank You Jessica Savich.. This post took under 15 minutes :0)

For every two minutes of glamour, there are eight hours of hard work.

-Jessica Savich

Behind the Scenes

it was fairly easy to pattern bomb this photo but I did have to do some modifications to make it go over gutter pipe at the top, keep some perspective. again, thanks to Skillshare and Helen Bradley for this knowledge

I spent a ridiculous amount of time teaching my Photoshop program to save files of my patterns, in all the formats I need, with just the touch of a button. I also put together a filing system for my new designs on my computer to help streamline posting them out in the world. Lots of work creating automation and organization in the beginning will give me more time to make new patterns in the future. I’m feeling very smart right now. (Thanks Oksana)

Yesterdays work was not terribly picturesque so I thought I’d share a photo I created over the weekend where I put one of my patterns on the side of a building. Credit goes to Helen Bradley on Skillshare for teaching me how to do this. When you digitally put your patterns on something reasonable like wallpaper, pillows or notebooks it’s called a Mock Up. If you put it on something kind of absurd like a mountain, an elephant, or a building it’s called Pattern Bombing. You will be seeing lots more patterbombing! I did just google pattern bombing for that link and I think it might need a new name… any suggestions? or you think Pattern Bombing is ok even though it has a very unfun (my blog I can make up words if I want to) meaning as well.

This particular pattern bombing is not very pretty. It just shows I can do it. Isn’t that what the learning stage is all about?

I also found out I won a free years subscription to Skillshare! I am so excited! Oksancia.com held a contest on one of her Skillshare design classes and I was the lucky winner! Oksana and a few other skillshare teachers, who I will introduce over time, have been a huge help in my new journey and I’m looking forward to what else they have to teach me over on Skillshare.

That’s all for today. and that was NOT 15 minutes… I’ll get better at this :0) 

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