Sunday, May 1, 2016

A New Challenge

Have you ever walked into a store and seen products for your home and thought, "That's an awful color," or "That's a horrible design?" Me too. All the time.

So I decided to take my 15 or so years of graphic design experience and learn about new and different commercial design applications. Like fabrics. Or holiday wrapping paper. Spoonflower caught my eye, big time -- I even bought their book, The Spoonflower Handbook: A DIY Guide to Designing Fabric, Wallpaper & Gift Wrap. Yummy fabrics, $5 swatches, eco-friendly printing.... I am crushing on this website and sometimes stalking it, which is weird, because I don't sew. But I do, from time to time, collage fabrics into a painting. How cool would it be to say that the fabric in the background of my piece is also of MY DESIGN? Or that the gifts I give on special occasions are wrapped in papers I crafted and then had professionally printed?

I've designed and cut my own stencils before, and that's a lot like creating a pattern. Except for those darn repeat patterns. Oh, hell -- that's gotta be hard, I thought. Until I enrolled in Lila Rogers' Make Art That Sells professional development course. The self-paced "MATS A" covers bolt fabric, home decor, children's books, wall art and the gift market. Crash course! I wanted to absorb it all, all at once.

My first pattern was nothing to get excited about:

It was made by taking a bunch of gauche paintbrush strokes and pen-and-ink lines, scanning them in, and playing with composition. All I wanted to accomplish was learning the repeat pattern process, and at this point, say "I did it!"

Since that first pattern, I've approached more designs as being a reflection of who I am as a mixed media artist. I thought about all the different processes I use when I make art. Why shouldn't my patterns be an extension of my own experience? Sometimes I sketch, or outline with pen, or create with a brush in all types of media from watercolor to ink to acrylics. Sometimes I make monoprints. I've even tried carving my own stamps. The pattern below right is made by using my own stamps and acrylic ink. I stamped a bunch of random images and colors, then scanned them in, did a little clean up and moved them around until I made a pattern I liked.

It's quite fun to see them come together. Now I carry a sketchbook wherever I go, doodling little clips and imagery when inspiration strikes. The good ones I convert to an ink drawing to be scanned and composed on the computer. Like a good chef in the kitchen, nothing goes to waste.

Then I heard about a company in the UK that does sort of a print-on-demand business model. They have a design competition to put art on a cushion (think 'throw pillow').  I entered three designs; here's what they look like:

Is that cool, or is that COOL?? The contest runs through May 8th, and here's how it works:

  • A FB and Instagram like = 1 point. 
  • A Cushion sale = 20 points.
  • Based on points, a short list will be sent to 20 industry judges. 
If you're so inclined, please visit (my designs are currently on the 4th page of entries) and share/vote/order away.

Meanwhile, I'll just be here, designing more patterns. I hear they start looking at holiday patterns in April.... Ho, ho, ho!