Papercut Patterns by Bryna Shields

Bryna Shields is a Portland-based illustrator, surface designer and photographer. The images in this post are part of the pattern series Bryna created for a 100 Day Project. She writes, “I start off cutting out various shapes on watercolor paper, with no particular plan ahead of time. Then I color the shapes with gouache, watercolor and india ink. Then I scan the shapes into my computer and build the patterns from there. This new process has provided some pleasant unexpected results. For instance, some of the paper scraps and negative shapes left over from the cutting process end up in the patterns – shapes I wouldn’t have discovered had I simply created the pattern straight on the computer.”

Pattern Observer featured designer Bryna Shields

“I studied Graphic Design and Photography at Michigan State University, and spent a few years after graduation pursuing freelance work designing magazines and print collateral in a variety of industries. Even though it was my initial dream, I quickly realized I didn’t love it. I’d always been fascinated with patterns – constantly bookmarking, collecting and pinning them in my visual research. It never really occurred to me that I could actually create patterns for work, but the more dissatisfied I became with print design, the more I began seeking a new creative challenge. One day, seemingly by serendipity, I found a free course on pattern design on Skillshare. As soon as I started making patterns, I was obsessed and couldn’t stop making them. I decided that I would transition away from my magazine work and focus on illustration and pattern design. I expected it to take many months and possibly years before I got paying work for my illustration/pattern work, but about two months after I’d started my pattern rampage, I landed a gig with Crate and Barrel. I got to work on a variety of exciting projects from their holiday gift wrap to designing plates. It was here that I really learned about the world of surface design, and it’s where I improved my skills in creating patterns using a variety of different methods.

I left my gig at Crate and Barrel inspired and empowered to continue down this path. While planning my recent move from Chicago to Portland, I fell out of my art practice. Once I got settled in to my new apartment, I was eager to get back into creating, and found out about the 100 Day Project through The Great Discontent on Instagram the day it started. The idea for papercut patterns was inspired by a number of illustrations I’d recently come across in my visual research that utilized paper cuts in their work. I was intrigued by the method, and wanted to try and translate it into pattern design in order to incorporate a more handmade process and feeling into my work.

Pattern Observer featured designer Bryna Shields

Although I maintain a disciplined art practice, working on a 100 day project taught me even more about the benefits of discipline. I’ve learned to let go of perfection; I think often when we share work with the public, we want it to be perfect. When you have to deliver a piece every single day, the bigger picture is easier to see. You become less precious with your work, not every piece needs to feel like a masterpiece. This has been especially liberating. The most exciting part of participating in this project has been connecting with other artists on Instagram, seeing the brilliant ideas other people have. This project has introduced me to a whole new audience, and even led to a few partnerships with companies and blogs! The response to these patterns has been so positive that I’m currently working on turning some of them into scarves and other physical products.”


You can find Bryna online at:

Twitter: @brynashields


Here’s to a creative weekend! -Chelsea


Is your eye drawn to the colors and patterns you see on clothing or in home decor? Do patterns fill your doodles, drawings and artwork? You could make money in the textile design industry. Get our FREE video training today!

Textile Design Lab Member Spotlight: Laura Muñoz Estellés

Pattern Observer Laura Muñoz EstellésPattern Observer Laura Muñoz Estellés

Every day in the Textile Design Lab I find myself stunned by the quality and scope of our members’ work. From newbies to the world of surface design to experienced designers with long careers in this field, the Lab is a melting pot of creativity and ideas from a huge range of design backgrounds and design styles. Being the Community Manager for the Lab truly feeds my passion for this industry and I hope to share my excitement with you in our new monthly post series: the Textile Design Lab Member Spotlight. We are kicking off this series with a spotlight on Laura Muñoz Estellés, an amazing talent and one of the more than 300 members who make up our TDL community. Read on to learn what Laura has been working on inside and outside the Lab! -Chelsea


Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from? What is your career background and what drew you to textile design?

My name is Laura Muñoz Estellés, I’m a textile and surface designer, based in Valencia, a Mediterranean city on the east coast of Spain. Since I was a child I always had a creative spirit, I always needed to express myself through color, paintings, drawings, collages, pictures… Now I do exactly what I was born to do. My work is the result of a multidisciplinary learning process through fashion, fine arts and textiles and it is mainly focused on handmade illustration and pattern design, to make common things more beautiful. I’m graduated in fashion and fine arts and I worked for several fashion brands in order to expand my practical knowledge and it was when my love for patterns appeared because I always worked as a pattern designer. One day I decided I wanted to be a professional textile designer and I saw the opportunity, I applied on the last day for a scholarship contest and I was awarded with a scholarship by the Istituto Europeo di Design (Madrid) in order to study the “Master of Arts, Surface and Textile Design” and from then on I threw myself into textile design.

What courses have you taken in the Textile Design Lab? What is your favorite aspect of the Lab?

I took two courses from the Textile Design Lab for the moment: “How to Sell Your Artwork” and “The Ultimate Guide to Repeats”. There are some aspects of the Lab I love, first of all is the confluence. I was looking a place to find support, to get a positive critique and to talk about patterns, because I think sharing your designs with others and getting feedback is the best way to learn, from professionals and designers who belong and enrich this wonderful community. I think there is always something new to learn about techniques or digital tools because things change so fast and everyone does things so differently, you should never stop learning. The second thing to stand out from the Lab are the tutorials and challenges, the tutorials give you technical methods to develop professional repeats and patterns, and the challenges continuously stimulate your creativity and make your work better.

Pattern Observer Laura Muñoz Estellés

What projects are you currently working on? 

On the one hand, nowadays I sell my pattern designs for the fashion industry through Hunt+Gather studio in the US and I work as a freelance designer making bespoke designs for fashion and home decor manufacturers and companies, and on the other hand I love to take time to create new artworks and sell them under the pseudonym Ninola, through POD sites like Society6, Nuvango or Estampable. Recently my designs were selected for Nuvango’s new apparel line. Also, recently I’m joining creative platforms like Jovoto, and submitting some designs to launched projects, and I was one of the winners surprisingly.

Pattern Observer Laura Muñoz Estellés

Where do you find inspiration when creating a pattern? 

Patterns have to me two things I’ve always enjoyed, trends that come from the world of fashion, which influence many different industries, and moreover, the creative process, I love to make artwork always using handmade processes. Usually I do hand-drawn and hand-painted artwork, where I begin from to create patterns. Watercolors and inks are my most beloved way of expression and it gives my work its own singularity, I love their randomness, the inherent element of luck and surprise, making each work unrepeatable and spontaneous… Where the colors flow. But I can work between manual and digital, because I am constantly learning and it keeps me motivated. Also I’m always inspired by abstract art, wonderful nature, the arts & crafts movement and pop culture.

What do you do if you’re stuck in a design rut or feeling uninspired? 

I have two ways that help me if I am stuck in a design or I feel uninspired. The first thing is every day I paint watercolors, I do drawings or I make collages, and although I don’t use immediately, I keep it in a folder, and when I need artwork to create patterns, in many cases, I have something to begin from. The second thing is that wherever I go, if I’m traveling or taking a walk down my street, I take pictures of everything that fascinated me or called my attention. I have a library of a thousand images I really love and inspire me and I look it up when I have to start a new project or a new collection, from ice-cream colors to feathers of a bird, a texture of a wall or a water drawing, in the world there are a great many beautiful things to observe.

Pattern Observer Laura Muñoz Estellés

What do you hope to achieve as a textile designer? What are your goals for your career/business?

What I hope is to keep improving my designer skills every day and being a nice person. Maybe in a future I’d would like to have my own studio or I would like to create my own apparel line, also if I dream I would love to collaborate with companies I admire, for example Marimekko or brands such as Mina Perhonen or Gorman.


You can find Laura around the web at:



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Product Feature: Sarah Joy Frost

If you’re a longtime reader you may remember our past feature on British textile designer Sarah Frost and her printed accessory label, Sarah Joy Frost (formerly called Sarah Joy.) Well Sarah is back with a new website, new branding and a beautiful new collection of scarves, tote bags, and other accessories. The label was launched after the designer recently graduated with an MA in Textile Innovation.


“Sarah Joy Frost offers luxury silk scarves designed, printed and exquisitely hand finished, entirely in the UK. The conceptual prints evolve from hand rendered photographic imagery, enhanced by beautiful drawing marks. Sarah Joy Frost draws inspiration from the intrinsic qualities of the physical world. Our ethos is to create emotional and aesthetic resonance between wearer and item with the belief it will be cherished.”


“The Contusion collection was evolved from hand rendered photographic imagery indulging in layers of opulent cloth enhanced with drawn marks, layered, and layered again. Informed by contusion of skin and an infantilistic aesthetic, ready to swaddle and provide a sense of protection. An inspiration of tightly knotted rope; twisting and constricting, cherubs clenching hands, plaited forms peeping through and a flux of dancing swirls. Colours are deep with light relief, through to balanced neutrals, as if diluted in milk. The collection is a suggestive journey of calibre and natural modification with a sense strength and eminence.”  


Learn more at or visit the Sarah Joy Frost Etsy shop which features “limited edition premium leather bags using lamb nappa, pig suede and cow hide; incorporating the collection’s prints.” (She is currently running a 10% off discount using code SJFSUMMER15 which runs until July 31st!)


YOU can get started in the textile design industry today. Get our FREE video training and learn How to turn your artwork into TEXTILE DESIGNS that sell! GET ACCESS NOW!

Featured Designer: Brenda Zapotosky

Floral Bliss Tropical by Brenda ZapotoskyLilies by Brenda ZapotoskyPetal Potpourri by Brenda ZapotoskySprigs and Leaves by Brenda ZapotoskyBrenda Zapotosky is an “illustrator, artist and designer specializing in surface patterns, greeting cards, stationery, scrapbooking products, and fabric design.” We love Brenda’s playful style and her exciting use of color–we think she made the right decision in switching from the world of architecture to surface design! ;)

“I have a Master of Architecture Degree from the University of Pennsylvania. I worked in the field of architecture for many years, during which I began a greeting card business, creating cards from my hand drawn doodles, under the brand name BdoodleZ. In 2013 I decided to quit my part-time architecture job to pursue illustration full-time. I expected to have my focus be greeting cards and stationery since that is what I had been doing. As part of that, I wanted to start designing gift wrap too. So I taught myself how to create seamless patterns in both Photoshop and Illustrator (a program I also taught myself to use during that time). As I began to dive deeper into Surface Pattern Design, I realized that I really loved designing patterns, even more so than greeting cards. Pattern design encompasses all of what I love, combining my artistic side with my architecture side… I love taking art elements and then thinking through the process of arranging them and working out a seamless pattern. Architecture, while the design of buildings, is ultimately a profession of problem solving, and creating patterns is essentially the same thing!

I have 4-5 doodle books filled with my abstract doodles. My style has always been a very crisp line, black pen look. I have loved learning how to create vector art, as my hand drawings were always more technical than sketchy. In graduate school I studied traditional print making. We learned many styles of print making, but etching became my favorite, as it was the best translation of my black and white ink style to that print making medium.

My patterns reflect a lot of this style, while trying to be practical for people to use. Crisp smooth lines, flat color, and hatchings are some of my signature looks.”

You can see more of Brenda’s work at or visit her Spoonflower shop, her Facebook fan page, or check out her fun Instagram feed. Have a great weekend!! -Chelsea


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Found Patterns: Beads

FoundPatterns_PatternObserver17Images via: (clockwise from top)  “Beads” by say_cheddar (cropped from original) “Beads” by Robyn Jay,  “String beads” by Gerry Brush,  “African Textile Pattern” by Sherrie Thai (cropped from original) “Crocheting – Judith Bertoglio-Giffin – African” by PRECIOSA ORNELA (cropped from original) “Beaded necklaces” by Sarah Joy “Turquoise Beads” by cobalt123 (cropped from original)


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At Pattern Observer we strive to help you grow your textile design business through our informative articles, interviews, tutorials, workshops and private design community, The Textile Design Lab.