The World of Surface Pattern Design
I'm so excited to be here to share this with you. It's my life passion and I just love surface patterns. I think they are such a unique way for us to really share our personalities and our world, so I'm so excited that you guys are here and I'm so excited that you're here at home too. A little bit about this course is that it's for any skill level. If you are, have never opened up Adobe Illustrator, I'm going to take you from step one all the way through. But if you're advanced in Illustrator, we're going to be touching on tons of topics that you're going to be interested in too. We're going to also, in addition to learning Illustrator, we're going to talk about the business of surface patter design. We'll be talking about copyrighting, really finding work. We're going to talk about building a portfolio and getting noticed out in the world. We're going to get into my story a little bit later, but I want to start off by telling you that a few years ago, I just had this dream that I real...
ly wanted to be a surface pattern designer. And it dawned on me after I had graduated college, so it was a little too late for me to go back to design school. So I'm completely self-taught. I set out to do it my own and at the time, there wasn't much information out there on this. For this course, what I have really tried to do is take everything that I learned over three years and condense it all into everything you need to know to be a successful surface pattern designer. I had to go through a lot of things that maybe weren't really necessary and my goal for this course is to teach you everything you need to know. So we'll just touch on a little bit of a overview. Today we're going to, in this first segment talk about what is surface pattern design. We're going to touch on my story a little bit more just to tell you where I came from and how I got here. We're going to, in segments two and three are going to be Illustrator based so we're start from ground zero and build up our workspace and start with the essential tools in Illustrator. We're also going to be doing a little bit of artwork today but we're going to be getting into it really heavy tomorrow. And then to end the day in segment four, we're going to be talking about how to source your own inspiration, how to make inspiration boards, best practices for sketching and then we're going to have some homework for tonight so that we can really get into the meat of designing tomorrow. So tomorrow, we're going to be creating art all day long. It's going to be so fun. I've broken it down into three segments. The first is going to be creating artwork in Illustrator from our sketches. So we're going to talk about scanning them in and the best way to scan them in and to really, then turn them into vector art in Illustrator. Segment two we're going to be working off of photographs, so we're going to be creating color palettes from photos, we're going to be referencing our photos to trace over them and also introduce the live trace tool. The third segment is going to be directly from Illustrator. The other thing I want you to know is that you don't have to be an artist to do this. You will learn that when you look at my sketches that I am not a fabulous artist, but I have ideas and doodles and you can do that. I know a lot of people that work directly from Illustrator and they never sketch. Even though I do, and it's an important part to it but you can also do geometric work, you can learn Illustrator to just work straight from there and so segment three is going to be all Illustrator based. And then in segment four, I'm so excited to bring on a guest speaker. Annie Tunheim is going to be here and she is a creative lawyer and we're going to be talking about copyrights and trademarks and all those things that we all have tons of questions about. So really be thinking about questions for tomorrow afternoon and that's just going to be a really super educational time for us. On day three, we're going to start off the day by making, learning how to make technical, repeating patterns, which, when I got started was the biggest mystery ever. Took me a year to figure it out. It's easy and it's fun and we're going to make patterns all day long. We're also going to talk about how to build a portfolio, how to get noticed in the industry, how to apply your patterns to different objects in Illustrator and also what your options are for these patterns once you have them finished. Where does this really take you in your career? We are going to also learn how to design some fun things with the patterns and we're going to have, are you guys familiar with Spoonflower? Yeah, Spoonflower if you're not familiar with it, is a company where you can print your own fabric in as small as one yard increments. So you upload your designs. You can get wallpaper, fabric and decals. So we have the CEO of Spoonflower skyping in with us on the third day to talk about Spoonflower and have Q and A so that's going to be a lot of fun too. So in this course I kind of told you that I am going to cover, I'm sharing all my secrets. Everything's out there. I decided that when I started to learn this, I felt like I would have loved to have taken this course back then and I decided that if I learned what I wanted to learn, that I wasn't going to keep it a secret. I was going to share it with as many people as I could. So that's what I'm here to do. Technically speaking, you are going to learn how to use Illustrator. Not going to be scary if it's been scary, because it was scary to me when I started and you are going to learn how to create technical repeating patterns. I also want you to know that this Illustrator course is specific to surface pattern design so it's not an entire Illustrator course but you are going to learn only what you really need to know to do this work, which is going to make it easy for you. Creatively speaking, we're going to talk about sketching, inspiration, how to really keep your work, your style files and that kind of thing. The goal for this course is that I want everyone to be able to leave with a mini pattern collection. My hope is for six patterns. That you leave, that has a name, a theme and they're cohesive in style, color and scale. I want everybody to leave with a color, pattern collection that is portfolio ready and you're ready to hit the ground running with. Spiritually speaking, I hope that this course inspires your very soul. I want you to leave motivated, equipped to do what you really want to do and sure that you can follow your creative dream. So I get this all the time, what is a surface pattern designer? Do any of you want to throw out a definition? Do you know what surface pattern design is?
Well it's, I guess it would be someone who is a surface pattern designer is, creates, you see wallpaper, wrapping paper, even the patterns that your local fabric store. All of that is going to be created by a surface pattern that is scalable and tileable and all that fun stuff.
Perfect. So if you're at home, just from where you're sitting, take a look around and notice the patterns that are around you. They can be on coffee mugs, curtains, wallpaper, rugs, stationary, notebooks, fabric, your shirt, just everywhere and a lot of times we don't really think about that but every single pattern that you see, somebody somewhere created that and that's what I do. And that's what you're going to do by the end of this course. It's super fun. I want everybody to look under their seats, look under their seats for something. Now if you're at home and you just look under your seat, you might need to go get another cup of coffee. (audience laughs) Can you find it? It's taped underneath.
There you go.
So everybody open this. This is just some, there are several things inside and they are examples of what we're going to learn how to do this week. So we have fabric. We're gonna learn how to make repeating tiles to upload to get our own fabric printed and then if you want to hold up that, these are shipping labels. They're a set of shipping labels. We're going to learn how to make on day three. We have art prints and then we also have a greeting card. You have a greeting card? Perfect. So for those of you at home, this is also a package called Printables. If you have upgraded to Anytime Access, you get these so you can print them at home. You're not left out. We're going to learn how to do all that through this course. There are two directions that surface pattern design can take you. It can take you into a professional career so you do this for a living. You freelance your artwork out. There's several different ways to work as a surface pattern designer but you sell your work, you work as a freelance artist, you work for a company but the primary idea is that you do it for a living. And then the other reason is just a hobbyist, personal reasons. This is so fun if you are a scrapbooker. You can make your own patterns for your scrapbooks or if you're a sewist and you want small amounts of yardage for yourself to make Christmas gifts and you can say hey, I designed the fabric too. This is so fun to do on the side. We're also going to get in to on day three, how you can also use this to do side businesses on like, Society 6. Open a Society 6 shop. So you don't have to quit your day job if you don't want to. This course is going to cater to the professional, but the hobbyist, you should know that you're going to learn everything you need to know along the way as well. Why surface pattern is a good idea. Why would it be a good career path for you? I think pattens are super exciting. I think they're such a unique way to express yourself and color your world and you think sometimes about how meaningful things are, like your first baby quilt or a coffee mug a friend gave you or whatever and it's the patterns of our lives that I deeply connect to that I feel like tell our story. So that's why I love it and I hope that you fall in love with it too. I want to get into a little bit of my story and the only reason I'm sharing my story with you today is just so that hopefully it will motivate you and let you feel like, if you have a creative dream, that you can do it. I'm going to share with you where I came from, how I got here and hopefully you'll get a little inspiration along the way. I love this quote. "The things you are passionate about are not random, "they are your calling." I grew up with a crafty mom. She's like a Martha Stewart mom. She's good at everything. Creativity just seems to seep from her pores. I grew up with crafting days and sewing days and I always slept under a quilt that she made. I was always into this. I was always crafting or whatever but it was what I did on the side. I didn't think that it was a career option until it dawned on me that this is what makes me happy and this is what I'm passionate about and it's not just a hobby, it is my calling. And no matter what it took, I wanted to do it for a living. This is my mom's website and I should've maybe put a picture of her up here, but just to give a little nod to her. She owns a quilt shop called A Stitch in Time and she is the reason that I'm here today. She's my biggest fan and she's keeping my baby right now so I couldn't be here without her anyway. I did all this crafty stuff. Crafted in my dorm room. I had the craftiest dorm room ever. I had embroidered matching towels for my roommate and me. I went to business school and I was so bummed out about that after I realized that I wanted to go to design school. I came from a family of entrepreneurs, so I was and am an entrepreneur as well, but at the time I just didn't really know what I wanted to do so I went to business school. Graduated, married my high school sweetheart, started working for my mom at her quilt shop for a little while and then it dawned on me, I want to design. I want to design. And I thought, oh no. I didn't go to design school and I don't know what I'm doing. I considered going back to school. I started applying to design school. It was going to move my husband and I six hours away. And then two things hit me. Business school was essential to what I was doing, first of all. I'm not telling you to go to business school, but for me personally, I embraced it because I wouldn't have learned marketing skills or the tiny bit of accounting skills that I picked up. It was so beneficial for me to have gone to business school and if you don't know how to market your things, even if you have the best stuff in the world, they're not going to take you anywhere. I embraced business school and then I realized, you know, I don't need to go back to school. I can do this. No matter what it took, I had my family's support behind me and I was determined to start on this career path and I just said there's nothing that's going to stop me so I'm just going to do it. The first thing I did was start a blog. This is my blog, Going Home to Roost. I wanted to lay a foundation for my creative future and at the time, this was about six years ago, I felt like starting a blog and starting an Etsy shop was a good way to get into it. I also knew that I wanted it to be a business though, so I spent months and months researching blogs, how to do it, what platform to use, blog designers, my target audience, what I wanted to share, but really, at the end of the day, I was baking and making and sewing and crafting and doing all the stuff that I wanted to share. That's why I started. I didn't start to make money of anything like that. I just started to share my work, but I tried to be smart about it. The other thing that I wanted to do was open an Etsy shop, so I did both of those around the same time in 2009. My Etsy shop at the time, it's changed over the years and I'm on my third one now. My current one is SweetBonnieChristine.etsy.com and it's all digital goods, but the one that I started with, I was making handmade aprons, tea towels and pillows. I did that for a long time until I was able to quit my day job. The other thing I want to say is that this takes a little bit of time. It's important to have an online presence and it's important to, I'm not necessarily telling you you have to start a blog and an Etsy shop, but I am telling you that you need to be online and you need to be doing something to expand your audience. I had somebody tell me something really important when I started. The other thing that I did was contact other bloggers. I introduced myself, told them I was new, told them I was excited about this and asked a question. You can't lose anything by doing that and all you can do is build a community. So ask questions. I was talking to this one blogger and she was really big at the time and I was nonexistent and she told me there's room for you. She said there is room for all the bloggers. We all have our different voice and an authentic point of view and there's room for you. I don't even know if she knows that that stuck with me this long, but that's what I want to tell you today too. There's room for you. I've had a couple people surprised that I was going to do this because they think, you're sharing all your secrets. I've got nothing to hide and I want you to know that there's room for you because you're going to have to pour in your heart and soul and time into this and if I can help you a little bit with Illustrator or tell you what I've done, then I'm there to do it for you. I have made a little graphic for my timeline. 2009 I started Going Home to Roost. About a month later, I started my Etsy shop. About a month later I quit my day job, which was with my mom, which was kind of sad. But we still lived on the same road so it was, you know we still saw each other all the time. I know she's watching. The thing I did with my blog from the beginning is I blogged consistently. I blogged twice a day every day for a long, long time when nobody was reading but my mom. But I just stuck with it because I felt like if I was consistent, people would show up. That's what I want to encourage you to do. If you're a blogger or if you're interested in that, be consistent. Even if it's once a week on Monday, make it on Mondays or Tuesdays or whatever, but be upfront with your schedule and be consistent so that you are reliable and people don't wonder whatever. Around the same time I figured out that I wanted to be a designer. Six months later, I was like, okay I still want to be a designer. Nothing had changed. Nothing had changed and I feel like this is the trap we get caught into. We have these big, giant creative dreams and it's so overwhelming because the end is so far away from where we are right now. We don't know how to get there and so we shut down. I still do that today. I still have big dreams that are far away and I shut down. What I have to remind myself is this and you have to do one single thing, one thing every single day in the efforts of reaching your creative dream. I'm not just saying this. This really dawned on me and I really did it. One of the only things that I actually really did. For years, maybe two years, I didn't miss but a few days of doing one thing every single day. If it was at the end of the day and I felt like I didn't do anything to step in the right direction of my dreams, I was upset about it. No matter how great or how small, at the beginning it is figuring out what it is you want to do. Take a little time and research what it is that you're really wanting to do. Once you have that narrowed down, it's learning. Learning what you want to do. This is your one thing for today. You can cross it off. For me, it was Illustrator courses. For almost 18 months, I would watch at least one every single day. Then it turned into sketching. Maybe one sketch every day. Then it turned into turning them into patterns and illustrating them. Then it got really scary, showing people what I had done, which is the scariest part. You have this body of work, it was building a portfolio a little while and then it was picking up the phone and calling a company or making an appointment, which makes me shake in my boots a little bit. It's just one thing every day. I love this quote too. "Great things are done by a series "of small things brought together." If you do one thing every day, at the end of the year, you have done a massive amount and it's not overwhelming. But when you look back a year ago, you can see just how much you've done and if you had seen a year in advance, then you would've thought there's now way I can get there. There's no way I can do it. But you can do it by a series of small steps. So back to my timeline. Right in here, my husband got a job opportunity that moved us to Colorado. We're in North Carolina now. Don't want to confuse anybody. But we were in Colorado for a little while and we moved there right at the beginning of winter and we lived in a really cold, drab house with pink berber carpet and it was cold and dreary and it was the best thing that ever happened to me because I sat down and learned Illustrator the whole time, the whole time I was there. I learned Illustrator for about 12 months it took me and then I made my first repeating pattern, which was incredible. That I made it. The pattern was not incredible and I'm going to show it to you and don't you, no you can laugh. This is my first repeating pattern. I can't even believe that I found this picture but this is it and I sent it to my mom and she thought it was the most beautiful thing she'd ever seen and we were like crying and I'm so embarrassed by it now. Next, I spent some time making patterns. That's all I did. I was addicted. I was hooked. I made hundreds of patterns. Two hundred plus patterns. And this time is so important. It is unlike any other time in your career. You don't have any outside influences. You don't have any pressure. You don't have any deadlines. You don't have companies' briefs to work to. You don't have other designers' work that's influencing you. This is just you and your work and you're just doing whatever your heart leads you to do. Cherish this time. Don't be so consumed with the fact that you haven't done anything with it yet. Take your time. Take months to create patterns and patterns and patterns and patterns. Nourish this time. Feed your soul during this time. This is where you will develop your signature style. So many times, beginners don't even know what their signature style is and I didn't. I was learning and I thought, what's going to come out of me? I kind of had an idea. I wanted feminine and sweet, but what is that really going to look like? I have no idea. It's not until you really dive in and start creating pattern after pattern after pattern to where you get a sense of what's you, what's not. You might toss ideas to the side, but most, I've heard this from several artists, that most of your favorite work is done during this time because you don't have any distractions. That was true for me. This was my second fabric collection. It was called Sweet as Honey and all of this was made during my pre, my pre-time. It was just me sitting, doing what my heart wanted me to do and it has been my favorite and I think everybody in the industry's favorite too. The other thing I want to say is that I want everybody, we're going to touch in this in more depth, but I want everybody to start thinking in terms of themes and collections. I really strive to tell a story with my work. I don't do sporadic patterns. I do collections that I want to evoke a certain feeling and really tell a story.
Already jotting down ideas.
Okay, good. I have this body of work, now what? That's a good question. You have to show it to people. Showing your work is the hard part but you build a portfolio and you start contacting people. I wanted to make a really special portfolio. I didn't want to make a binder style. I wanted to make a book that would be, would feel like the most special book somebody had ever held. I look back at it now and you know, but at the time I felt like it was really, really really special and I'm going to show it to you a little later. I found a book bindery near my hometown and I went and learned how to bind a book. I bound my own book, I printed my own pages and I poured my heart and my soul into this portfolio. I tried to make it really special. I wrapped it in beautiful things and tied it just so and included, and I think you should include something personal with your work too, when you're showing it to somebody. I included something for them to keep and I wanted them to really see my soul come through this work. So then you have to show it to somebody which is the scary part. Your doubt will kill your dream. "Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will." You need to remember this, that you're the hardest on your own work and your doubt will stop you before you ever get going. You need to have faith in what you're doing and put it out there and what's the worst that can happen? The worst that could happen happened to me and I'm okay. I'll tell you in a minute. You can feel really vulnerable sharing your work but it's a necessary step. Sometimes, let's see. So you build a portfolio and you start contacting companies. This is the scary part but we're going to get into that more. You're going to feel totally comfortable with it by the end of the thing. Then you ship your portfolio and then you wait. Sometimes, this was a surprise to me. It can be a really long wait. I was eager to go. Two days later I was sitting by my phone. Six months later I was still sitting by my phone. The first company I sent my work to, I never heard back from and also spent about seven or eight months waiting on that. That's okay. I put my boots back on and I made a different plan and it's okay and your experience will be totally different. You may get picked up by the first person that you show your work to. I didn't but I did other things during that time that I'm really excited about and I just made a different plan. What I did decide to do was, my first goal and my first love is fabric. So I wanted to be a fabric designer. I put together this portfolio. Is anybody familiar with Quilt Market? That's the big giant industry trade show for the quilting industry. Every industry will have a trade show most likely. So if quilting fabric is not yours, just look for whatever is yours. Paper, stationary, wallpaper, they all have them. Trade shows give a really unique opportunity for someone like us. Every art director for every company you're interested in is under one roof at the same for three or four days. What I did was contact seven or eight companies that I was really interested in. I did this months in advance because if you wait really close to the time, then everybody's really busy. So I did it months in advance and I had appointments, booked a flight to Houston and got off the plane to go meet with some companies with a portfolio. This is me shaking in my boots with all my stuff. I had a portfolio, I had some samples I had made up to take. Off I went. So I had made meetings and I had really great feedback from all the meetings that I had. I was about six in and I was feeling, this is what I expected, but I was feeling like I was going to return home with a lot of homework. I had a lot of people who were interested but they wanted to see this different or that different or maybe present a different collection idea altogether. I was feeling a little overwhelmed with the amount of work that I was going to return home to do. But I was feeling like I had good connections so it was good. The last day, I had my second to last appointment with my top choice company and I sat down and she fell in love with my work and she offered me a contract right on the table. Her name's Pat Bravo. This is her from Art Gallery Fabrics. I was a mess. I boo hoo'd. I left, I left a fabric designer which I didn't really, I really didn't expect. That's how I landed the first, my first thing and so the very next quilt market, I had a booth out. This is the next market. This is booth setup day so it's a mess, but this is market and this is me presenting my line, my next line called Winged. This is my little booth. That's just to show how quickly things totally turned around and how that usually happens. You really get motivated. I signed my first contract. Then things really started moving along.
You know, we actually do have a number of questions coming from people who are just tuning in and they want to know, a lot of people are wondering about the versions of Illustrator that you're going to be showing off because people are using all different types. We have people saying I'm using CS4, I'm using CS2, I'm using CS5 and all these different versions. And some people don't have Illustrator at all. Maybe you could just touch on quickly, as people are getting prepared for getting into the Illustrator portion. Is there a specific version that you're going to be using and if people don't have Illustrator, could they use other sorts of design software?
Okay, definitely. I'm going to be using Illustrator CS6. You will be able to do anything that I show in any of the versions, so if you are on Creative Cloud or you're on CS3, 4, 5, you'll be able to follow along just fine. It is Illustrator specific so you do need Illustrator and we're going to start in the next segment, but I know that Adobe offers a 30 day free trial for Illustrator. So if you don't have it and you want to give it a good test, this would be the perfect time to start the 30 day free trial.
Great, now we have another good general question here from Aragon and they say, "Good morning from Denver."
"I'm wondering if it is better to follow along "in Illustrator with this course or just take notes "and play around after the class concludes for the day." So if people are just getting set up, how do you think they can best get all this knowledge? Should they be following along or taking notes or how should they do it?
I think it depends on your skill level. If you are pretty comfortable in Illustrator, maybe you should take notes. If you're not comfortable in Illustrator, you're going to want to work along, I believe. You may also need, you may need to upgrade so that you can pause and rewind and go back and forth, but give it a try and see if you can, I'm going to try not to fly through things. Going to try to go at a pretty slow pace so everybody can follow along. Kind of feel it out for your own skill level and see whether you can do maybe even a little bit of both.
Okay, good. I think one more that we can touch on now. This one comes from Ms. Mija Crista and they say, "So excited to have you here Bonnie. "How long does it take a fabric line to develop "from start to finish?" I know you showed off that one photo of a line that you created. As people are getting started, I think that a lot of people are trying to map out their timeline. How long should they be really thinking about for, to develop something like this, from start to finish.
That's a great question. We're going to definitely get into a little bit more of that later, but I can definitely answer that question now. Every industry is different and every company is different but I can tell you my personal experience and then you can gauge off that. Fabric is between the quilt market that I got signed and the quilt market that I had a booth at was six months and that was pretty incredible that I was able to get there in time because it's about that slow. I usually work about a year in advance from conception to yardage. Right now, I'm thinking about what I'm going to be doing in a year from now and I'm getting an idea for a theme and a collection and I'm starting sketches. Everybody works at a different pace, but I usually sketch for about three months. Then I illustrate for about two or three months and then once you turn in your final artwork, it just depends on the industry and the company that you work with. That process begins, like working with a printer or a mill and getting strike-offs, which we'll talk about all this stuff, but we get strike-offs to do color corrections with and then finally, final yardage. That takes another two or three months. I would say six to 12 months. The Roost Tribe was born. I'm going to talk about that at the end of this segment, but that's what I did during that seven months where I was waiting on my portfolio. I wanted to stick it in here just for my timeline. I'll get to it in a minute. I'm just showing you this so that you can see how things can take off. I got a line of wall stencils with a company called Royal Design Studios, released my first fabric line right after in 2013. It was called Reminisce. All of these are with art gallery fabrics. My second line was Sweet as Honey, which I showed you a quick glimpse at. I had a baby in there. He's 11 months old now so that was about a year ago. I couldn't not put him in the, yeah. I had a line of thread come out with Aurifil Threads which coordinates with my fabric lines. I have a really exciting new contract coming out with Renaissance Ribbons for a ribbon line. Really excited about that. My third fabric line just came out. It's called Winged, like two months ago. Actually more like four weeks ago, it hit stores. I just finalized, well I might get ahead of myself. I have wallpaper with Wallternatives and the winner of the challenge is going to get some of the wallpaper. I'm teaching this Creative Live course which is incredible. So that is where we are today. And then I just finalized my fourth and fifth fabric collections. I'm coming out with two this fall because I wanted to come out with a special edition kids line. You can see how it gets really heavy. It starts catapulting once you get your foot in the door and so that's what I'm going to teach you in this course, is how to get your foot in the door, get started and then spread your wings and fly.