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With nearly 200 repeating patterns under my belt, it’s safe to say I’ve been bitten by the “pattern bug”. How did I discover surface pattern design, and why do I love it? Let me tell you my story:
I’ve always been keen to explore my creative side. From music (I played piano for 10+ years) to knitting, sewing, wood burning and craft kits, I’ve tried it all. In 2017 I began exploring creative entrepreneurship while in school studying for an honours degree in Early Childhood. I started soap making and knitting cozy headbands to sell (hello, Canadian Winters) and purchased my first Cricut machine to help make my packaging. As I became increasingly short on time, and my interest waned, I stopped soap making and knitting. This cycle would repeat over the next few years with vinyl mugs & tumblers, custom t-shirts, home decor signs and stickers.
At the start of 2020, I became a mom, but nothing turned out how I thought it would. A devastating injury resulting from my daughter’s birth and the spread of a new illness worldwide really put a damper (to say the least) on the joy I expected to feel as a first-time mom. My world was dark and grey and I struggled to cope. I had to do something to get my joy back. This is when the “dabbling” began. I learned everything I could about my Cricut and cycled through projects.
I eventually registered as a small business, began sewing again and even attended a local market as a vendor to sell the items I had made. I spent a lot of time in Design Space (Cricut’s software) building designs and combining elements, but I wanted more. I took to Pinterest, as I’m sure many of us do, to figure out how I could create my own designs. I discovered the app Procreate and the magic of turning png files into svg files in Design Space. I didn’t have a tablet or a fancy computer, BUT I did have an iPhone and an old stylus. I downloaded the app and got to work. Yes, REALLY, I began designing on my small iPhone 8.
Though I had much room for improvement, I was SO proud of the work I was able to produce. It was unique, quirky and my own. Around this time, my interest in sewing also exploded and I was buying heaps of fabric. I began learning how to quilt, sew garments for my baby and piece together patterns. Suddenly it dawned on me, someone, somewhere, produced the art on these fabrics. I had to learn more.
Back to Pinterest I went, to immerse myself in what I now know as surface pattern design. I discovered Spoonflower and started uploading my designs. They were not all good. In fact, many of my patterns were not good at all. Some barely repeated, some had striping and awful colour palettes. I kept at it though and by the Spring I was producing hand drawn patterns I loved. By this point, my partner and family-in-law had gifted me an iPad to help make my design journey easier. Many of my daughter’s clothes now are handmade with fabrics I designed.
Throughout 2021, I continued to stick with pattern design- a first! I think I actually fell more in love with it everyday. I started taking online courses to immerse myself in the world of design. Procreate is a powerful app to create raster images but I began to learn about the magic of vectors. First I taught myself to use Affinity Designer, a great and, frankly, budget friendly option to learn vector illustration. Guess what? I still loved pattern design. Everywhere I looked I began to see patterns and tried to find where they repeated and what style repeat they were (eg. full drop, half drop etc). I started to see pattern design as a career option when I started seeing a few sales in my Spoonflower shop. I made the investment in Adobe Illustrator (the industry standard for file creation).
By the second half of 2021, I began incorporating my watercolour paintings into my surface pattern design and working in collections. My style, while still evolving, tends to lean towards whimsical and captures childhood- though I do still love a good floral. Right now, on top of my individual patterns, I have one full and 3 mini collections available. Now, more than ever, I can’t see a life without pattern design.
What’s next for me? Marketing and diving into the world of art licensing in 2022. Design has brought me so much happiness and I want to share what I’ve made with the world. Bolstering my portfolio with cohesive collections and approaching companies are at the top of my list. My Big Goal for the year: see one of my collections on quilting fabric. I still have so much to learn, but I finally found what I love.
My advice to you, if you made it this far, is to dream big and never stop searching for a piece of happiness. Sometimes our dreams feel like mountains while we feel so small in comparison. Big dreams are accomplished in small steps. Do something small, whenever you can, to get you closer to your goals. Be persistent. Find your joy and never give up on yourself. Stay curious and be willing to learn. Am I a huge success story? Not yet. But, I am happy, I am persistent and I love what I’m doing. I can’t wait to see what this year holds for me.