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Design Surface Patterns From Scratch

Lesson 2 of 31

Living Your Creative Dream

Bonnie Christine

Design Surface Patterns From Scratch

Bonnie Christine

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Lesson Info

2. Living Your Creative Dream

Lesson Info

Living Your Creative Dream

Is a surface pattern design for you? I already mentioned this a little bit, but I want you to know that you don't have to be an artist. You can be a doodler, you can not be a doodler. You can be an amazing artist. The skills in this course are going to cater. You're going to be able to use them for any and all of the above. There is nothing like the feeling of seeing your artwork put out in the world. We'll never get used to it. But if this kind of thing like really gets you excited, then seeing your work on something for the first time is just completely surreal. Or the tenth time, it doesn't ever get old. This is something unique that I want to talk about, is that there's really no ceiling to your success. So if we rewind to when I had the Etsy shop, I was making tea towels and aprons and pillows. And I made a certain amount of money on each one of those and that's all. I didn't make any more money until I made another one and I made another sale. And so there's a ceiling to that. Yo...

u can only create so many aprons in a day, and that's your ceiling. Unless you start hiring help and really go a different direction. So with surface pattern design, generally you get a percentage of how well your fabric or your pattern sells. So there's no ceiling to that, it can go wild. And you just get a percentage of that. So there's greater opportunity for you there, but the other unique thing in surface pattern design is that usually, we're going to talk contracts tomorrow a little bit, but usually your contract is industry specific. So you can take one pattern and license it in the fabric industry, and take the same pattern and license it in wall paper, stationary, ribbon, curtains, just the list goes on and on and on. So one pattern can be licensed over an array of industries and then you can really see how that can add up and get you going from there. So it's a really unique opportunity to not necessarily have your hands making all your money. They make it for a little while, and then you kind of set it free and see where it goes. And then the other thing is, I don't know if this is your creative dream, but if it is, you can do it. You can make a living at it. And you can live your creative dream. It's not going, you know, it's not necessarily easy, but it is fun and it is inspirational, and you don't have to sit at a job that you're not happy at. You can really do what you love to do. So why do you love being a surface pattern designer? I did a little blog series on Going Home to Roost to countdown to this course, and one of them is that I asked a few surface pattern designers that I know this question. So I just want to, I'm not going to read the whole thing, and you can read it now or you can go to my blog to read the rest, but Elizabeth Olwen does beautiful work and she says, I love being a surface pattern designer because I get to spend my days creating and making the world a more beautiful place. I feel like I found my place in the world. So it gives her identity, and and I resonate with this too, is that it helps you make your space more beautiful. Heather Bailey, and she says, she's a fabric designer. She says though getting a collection to sing in harmony can take me back to the drawing board many times, I love the process of working that all out. I know in my gut when I've got it right. And there is this beautiful harmony about working with a collection and how they weave in and out together and what your final pieces look like, it's really one of the most addicting parts to this. Jessica Swift does beautiful, fun illustrations. She says designing patterns brings me such joy and takes me straight back to her childhood when she used to doodle. So it really is kind of like being a kid. You know you really just get to draw a lot, and it's fun. Leah Duncan, I love the way objects can weave around each other to create work that looks and feels entirely different from the original. So Leah started with illustrations and then she fell in love with pattern work because you can take an illustration and then weave it in to each other to where you create this repeating pattern. And that's definitely one of the other addicting parts to surface patterns design. And then me, I've kind of already said this, but I just think they are an incredible way to express ourselves and that they can connect really deeply within us how we decide to illustrate and how we decide to color our worlds. So you may be thinking, that's really great, but how can I do this? I have a day job, I have bills. This is great, but I can't see how I can make this happen. So let's talk about that for a little bit. You're going to have a shift in priorities. It really comes down to how badly do you want this? And if it's not this in particular, it's another creative dream, apply this to that too. Like how badly do you want to do your creative dream? It's not going to be easy. You're going to have to make priority shifts and you're going to have to really pour every ounce of your being into it, but the reward is so great that it's so worth it. So a shift in priorities. You're going to have to sacrifice. You need support, you need your family behind you. And my husband and I lived on his income, which I looked up and it was like significantly lower than the median income. Like I guess like yeah, it was significantly lower than the median income that we lived on for like two years. And you know what, we just made it work because he was behind me and I was on a mission. And I didn't know for sure if this was going to work out or not, but I was going to give it everything that I had. So you're going to have to make sacrifices. And then the other things is savings. If you are really afraid to do this. If you are just really feeling like there's no way that I can quit my job and start this, Bonnie. Then start savings and do it via automatic withdrawal. My advice is on setting up automatic withdrawal, is the only way to save money, okay. Because if you think, I'm going to put $200 back next month, it's not going to happen because you need groceries too. Okay, so get set up with your bank to automatically withdraw a specific amount of money either every two weeks or every four weeks. And you know what, you are going to survive. It just disappears, and you like move on, and you have enough money, and then you have a pot of savings. So what I would suggest is to get set up on automatic withdrawals, get enough money saved to cover six months worth of expenses, then quit your day job. Okay and that will build in a six month cushion for you to start digging in really deep and start making at least a little bit of money doing what you're doing in order to follow your dream. Yeah, we actually had a question, kind of along these same lines from someone in the chat room asking about, now obviously you made it clear that one can make a living from pattern designs, but the question is, should we be viewing this as a side business for awhile before we make that leap into being this dedicated living to it, when do you know when you should kind of shift from side business to, I know you said six months saving up income, but income aside, when do you kind of know in your head, okay I'm ready for this? I'm ready to dedicate myself to it. I think it depends on how big of a sacrifice you're willing to make. So I, I threw all caution to the wind, and we struggled for awhile. And you know, you also don't necessarily make tons of money, especially at the beginning. But how much is it worth it to you to follow your dream, and do something that really makes you happy. That's worth an incredible amount to me. So the specific question was? Yeah, people are just trying to wrap their heads around the whole making a living out of this and making like a side business. Or a side business, yeah. I mean in some cases, people are doing this as a hobby, so there's sort of a tiered system. There is. It's hobby, side business, and then making it your passionate career choice, so I think people are just trying to figure out how to navigate that. So I would totally do it in that sequence. I would start, you don't necessarily have to start as a hobby, but get your brain around it while you're still making money doing something else. And then start it as a side business, if you feel like you can't quit everything else. Start as a side business because you will, you will most likely put up a lot of upfront effort and work and not start seeing returns until six to 12 months into it. Because of just how long it takes, and then how you usually get quarterly percentages back. So you have to kind of put up a little bit upfront, and then start seeing it come in. So six to 12 months in seeing a return I would say. Six months you'll start seeing a return from a first gig, but it takes a little while to get your work out in enough industries to really start getting the ball rolling. Does that help? Yeah, that absolutely helped. And I love hearing your story and your experience from this. And I'm curious to know from our students here in the studio, how have you guys taken this? Have you made that leap from hobby to side business to a more dedicated business? Anybody want to share some of their stories about how they've made that? Well, I'm sort of in the transition phase right now, and I think the scary part is that once you start dabbling into it more, you start seeing how many people are trying to do this. And it gets really scary, so that it's like it's great to see your timeline to realize that's a reasonable expectation, but now we're two years behind what you were doing so what works now, and it's like it's really scary once you start more than dabbling into it, to make that jump from hobby, side, to I'm going to focus on it as my whole life because oh my God, there's so many people out there who are quite talented, and I've got to put my stuff up against theirs. So what is realistic? Don't look at that stuff, don't look at it. Just close your eyes and focus on what you're doing because that's the fastest way to just let doubt creep in is to start looking around. And I have to remind myself of that all the time. I just turn the computer off, and get back to what I'm doing. It is so overwhelming, it can be so overwhelming. So my Etsy shop and my blog also, if either of you all do all that, you probably know it's really hard to make steady income at either of those things, but they trickled in while I was trying to get rolling, they helped. So it's something like that also I recommend too, if that speaks to you too. So yeah? I plan to combine my business with my pattern design. One of my biggest clients are women over that I teach how to be beautiful. They're already beautiful, but I teach them how to be more beautiful. (laughter) But I work with a color analysis person from France, and she designs our color palette and then I take the color palette, I haven't done it yet, but I will be doing it. I'll design the color palette and I'll question them into a variety of questions what makes them feel good or emote or whatever, and turn those ideas and that color story into their particular print. So that's what I'm working on long term, but short term I did my first business while in school with a company, and I didn't really have anyone to tell me if I was doing it right. I asked my instructor, she had no clue. So I'm kind of a little lost, and I'm hoping to be mentored because if you're alone by yourself in the freelance world, you have to build a community. And everyone that I've asked so far to be in my community has said no, so it's a little daunting. (laughter) I said I'll give you free beauty lessons, but at any rate, that's where I'm working, is trying to make sure I'm doing it right. I struggle with a lot of things like for the longest when I was with this company licensing my designs, they weren't getting my messages from Dropbox, and I didn't know that they weren't so I missed a whole quarter of being paid because there was a miscommunication. So I finally went to the company and said, can you show me how to make sure that this is right? And there's still a lot of trying to figure out. Yeah, and are you sure that you're hitting your target audience when you're trying to expand your community? Maybe you're not hitting the exact demographic that you need to because I think a lot of people would be really interested in what you're doing, and you just have to find that niche of people who are going to scream, yes, thank you. Exactly, and I'm just learning how to find a target audience and figure out who is your target audience. Yeah, so being online and social media is your best friend. Facebook will allow you to narrow down your ad results to a specific gender, age, interests. So you know who your target audience is. If you sit down and you really think who, you know this age to this age, they're probably women. And they're interested in this, this, and this. And so that's where you start. And you start on Facebook, you start searching hashtags on Instagram, and you start building your audience that way. And if you are interested in blogging or something, that will just kind of give you a community to, a place for your community to meet. They come there, or a forum or something to where people can start talking about what you're doing. You can even do public meetups, face to face meetups because you're local? Uh huh. So huge community here to organize a meetup at a coffee shop or whatever. And just start getting your work out there and spreading the news that this is what you're doing, and this is who you hope to affect with it. Yeah? Something that I have experienced is I have really enjoyed starting as a side business, just getting my feet wet, learning Etsy, learning the Internet. But once I found myself going on vacation, but all I want to do is work on my business, and it's time to sleep, but I just want to work on my business, that's when I knew, okay, I gotta quit everything else and just jump in full time. Yeah, that is such a good, that's when you know. That's when you know, when you can't sleep because you're so excited about. And you don't sleep because you have so much to do with it. There will be a definitive shift in your time allotment, and when you're spending more time on this, then it's time to go head in first. So let's talk a little bit about, um, I wasn't really planning on this, but let's talk about working from home and how this really fits in. You don't necessarily always work from home for surface pattern design, but I do. And it's the biggest blessing. I absolutely love it. I get to stay home with my son. Nobody wants to hear you complain about working from home either because they think, you get to stay in your pajamas all day. But you don't though. And there's really an art to doing this. Working from home is not easy, and there's an art to it, and so like you said, you end up working on your vacation or through the night, or whatever. And you do that, that's the thing with this, is that I probably put in, you know I haven't even counted, but well over 40 hours, 50-60 hours sometimes. I don't feel like I'm working. It gets me out bed in the morning, still. It's like I'm so excited that my feet hit the floor ready to go, and that's all I care about. I don't know, I don't care about how much work I'm doing, I care about how much I love what I'm doing. And so this makes me feel alive, and I don't feel like I'm having to go to work. So working from home, it's an important, I have like several things that I just had to start making myself do because you run into this rut of like you don't really have to get dressed or whatever. And so you do, so I get dressed and ready for the day. You didn't know I was going to teach you how to get dressed, but you have to do that first thing in the morning. I would all too many times like be embarrassed when the mail person came to the door because I was like ah. So that makes you feel alive, and like you're in the middle of something. Like you're not just staying at home, you are on a mission, and there's buzz going on, and you got things to do. And you know, you look the part too. You're doing it. The other thing is that when you work from home there's kind of this gray area. There are a lot of gray areas. There's like laundry that needs to be folded, but it's two o'clock and it's your work hour. So I have to separate, right? You're at home. You have to separate your work from your business. And you also have to separate your work time from your personal time because there's no fault to their own, but a lot of people feel like I'm available for like lunch dates or chatting on the phone all day, and there's a place and a time for that. And the glory of this is that you can build that into your schedule if you want. But the point is that you have work hours, and you're on a mission, so you have to explain that to people and make sure that they realize that you are doing something, and you're not just at home. My TV doesn't get turned on, doesn't get turned on at all. You know I'm working, so anyways. Does anybody else experience at home, you know, issues? It took me a long time to really get in a good groove of how to do this and feel good about it. It's especially difficult if you have another freelance job, so I know that during this wedding season, but I know coming up I still study and practice and learn, but coming up from end of October to February, I'll have a lot of time, so that's when I really double hit the time. Anytime I get a spare moment, I'm studying all those tutorials, practicing. Making patterns is fast for me, that's the easy part, but I've really enjoyed the process of having that freedom at home because in California we have so much terrible traffic and what we can commute in in traffic you can make a thousand patterns. Yeah, right. That's true. And also too, it's so expensive here, it's great to be able to have, that's why I created this business. I don't need anyone on a team, I don't have to carry 50 pounds of equipment up and down stairs. I can work wherever I can plug my computer in. So it's very mobile, and I think it's going to be outstanding once I get everything really laid out. I'm very glad to do it. And it's thrilling, like you said, it gets you up in the morning. Good, yeah, if you have a long commute, hit those e-books, make it worth something. Alright, absolutely. The next thing I want to introduce is the Roost Tribe. I've kind of hinted at it, but I want to just tell you what it is. The Roost Tribe is something I created that's sort of like this course. It's something that I would have died to have been a part of when I was wanting to learn all that I learned. So it is basically an extension of my blog, Going Home to Roost. It's $5 a month. You can come and go as you please. But it comes in four newsletters, each on Friday. And I send out just loads of information and fun things. So I send out Adobe Illustrator tutorials, printables like the gift cards that you have, the art prints that you have in your package today, shipping labels, that kind of thing. I have exclusive articles come in from industry experts. So I get really exciting people to come in to talk to us about what they specialize in. But it's all on creative topics. And we also do illustrations, clip art, you get repeating patterns, you get digital papers. Recipes, the list goes on and on and on. And it's where I pour all the things that I know, all the things that I'm learning now, I pour into this little monthly, weekly newsletter. And it's just a super fun community. We have a Facebook group that we're always chatting in, and everybody tends to use each other for creative work. It's a really great community to be included in. And I hope you come join us. It's every week? It's every week. And you actually get to build a community by knowing the people that go to that, right? You do, you get to introduce yourself on the Facebook, it's a private Facebook group, which is where we usually do most of our mingling. Yeah, so, but Google Hangouts may be coming up, and all kinds of stuff, but it's just super supportive. If you're working on something, a web design, and you need some feedback, pop it up on the page, you get hundreds of us to give you feedback. That's how I found you, is someone from somewhere else told me about you. Good, good. Yay. Good, it's working. (laughter) All the little mingling is working, good.

Class Description

Short on time? This class is available HERE as a Fast Class, exclusively for Creator Pass subscribers.

Did you know that you can turn your sketches, drawings, and doodles into patterns? Join Bonnie Christine for an introduction to creating patterns to use in your very own fabric prints, stationery designs, website backgrounds, cell phone covers, and much, much more.

This course will take you through the process of working with Adobe Illustrator to create digital versions of your artwork. You’ll learn tips and tricks for working in Illustrator and how you can use the software to create repeating patterns of your very own drawings. Bonnie will guide you step-by-step through the process of transforming sketches and tracings into vector art which can be used for an endless array of printable and online projects from customized stationery to computer wallpaper. You’ll also learn how to assemble your collection of designs into a portfolio you can use to impress potential collectors and buyers.

This course will lay a solid foundation for those new to Illustrator and open up exciting new possibilities for people already familiar with the program. If you are ready to bring your drawings to life in new ways this class is for you.


Adobe Illustrator CS6

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Desktop and Smartphone Backgrounds

Grow Your Blog eBook

Jouney to Becoming a Surface Pattern Designer

Design Printables

Color Palettes and Pattern Mockups

Keynote Session 1

Keynote Session 2

Keynote Session 3

Math Made Easy with Rotate Tool

Industry Resources and Supplies

Keyboard Shortcuts

My Creative Story


Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

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Emily Leggett

I am so glad I took the time to sit through all 3 days of this course. I have been to hour long classes that I can't wait to get out of and this one I sat in for 3 days and I am wishing it wasn't over. I take a lot of continuing education classes and am always trying to learn new things and I have to say this is by far the absolute most informative, educational, inspiring, and motivating classes I have ever taken. Bonnie Christine was an amazing teacher. She took the time to take us through all aspects of the process and even beyond showing us so many things that can be done with everything she taught us in this class. I think she did a great job with the class, was easy to follow and is someone I would love to learn from again. Great job on everything. I would recommend this class to anyone who wants to learn about surface pattern design and Illustrator. Great job to everyone involved in putting this course together!

a Creativelive Student

Awesome awesome awesome course! Thank you Bonnie! Thank you Creative Live! I have learned so much... so much great information packed together in one class. I am so glad I bought the course so I can rewatch it any time I need to.

a Creativelive Student

I'm about halfway through my first viewing of the course and I have to say, its been electrifying! There is so much quality information here, its an excellent starting point, and I do think I can start working towards a career in design now. It also makes me want to find more information and courses in the art and design area. Bonnie is such a joyful, honest and enthusiastic instructor and really, it feels like she';s hosting an amazing party for her friends. Thank you Bonnie for doing this course and thank you CreativeLive for pricing it so affordably