Featured Designer: Erica Cizek

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We are wrapping up this week’s focus on florals. Today I’d like to feature the work of Erica Cizek, a talented pattern designer and illustrator. Erica has a degree in computer graphics, graphic design, and typography, which is highlighted in her print and pattern work featured in today’s post.

I was really drawn to the charming nature of Erica’s work. When I look at her florals I feel swept up and taken to an idyllic land of dusty florals, lazy days, and friendly neighbors. Her work is such a nice escape from it all…

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Erica explains that a huge part of her inspiration comes from her childhood.  “I grew up in a small beach town in Southern California, though crowded with residents and beach goers, the residents always found some creative and unique way of planting a tiny garden, whether in a small pot, or a hollowed out tree trunk.  The collection of flowers and plants always intrigued me. Additionally, every year I would visit my nana in Victoria B.C., Canada, where the gardens bloomed with the most amazing flowers. I would spend time working in the garden with her and learn about the different types of flowers and plants. We would also have tea in downtown Victoria, a place where the streets are lined with ornate lampposts with hanging flower baskets; truly inspirational. My trip would always include a visit to Butchart Gardens where the flowers and plants are planted in the most amazing designs and patterns. I learned to sew at a young age, and taught myself millinery style of making flowers out of ribbons and fabrics and would fashion my flowers after the flowers I saw. I ended up starting a business selling the flowers to shops around the world. Designing, creating, and mixing and hand painting the flowers has given me a deeper understanding into arrangement and picking colors in illustrator.”

All of Erica’s designs begin with sketches. “I keep a to-go bag of pencils, brush pens, and a small sketch book that I take with me everywhere. I have two teenagers, which means I spend a lot of time relocating them from one place to another. Some of my best sketches and ideas came from sitting in my mini van waiting for my kids to come out of practice. My sketches then end up in illustrator or on my iPad Pro, where I select colors and I use the pen tool or brushes to draw over my sketches. I like to vary styles and incorporate different techniques, such as adding details with textures or lines made with various pencils, brush pens, sponges, and crayons. I’ll bring the textures into illustrator to digitize and recolor to add to my designs.”

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Erica is actually new to the pattern design industry (welcome Erica!) after spending many years in advertising and packaging design. “Working in advertising and packaging design helped with my self-critique, eye flow for my illustrations and patterns, and my use and design of typography. When I designed ads for magazines, it was crucial to consider eye flow, where the eye is drawn first and where it goes next and does it get trapped in a particular spot. I also consider the eye flow when I design a pattern or illustration.”

“Use of scale and color for the focal points, complimentary and contrast within the ad and also the surrounding ads and artwork has helped with designing complimentary and blending patterns. Though I do design fonts as well as hand drawn and illustrated typography, type styles and font choices and how they work together and the scale and size of the ad has helped when designing typography in my illustrative work and inspired the fonts I have designed.

“Packaging design has helped me think of the tangible side of illustrative and pattern design. If it’s a pattern, I think of what it would be applied to, would it have a textured finish or a smooth finish, and how I can use that to compliment the pattern.”

You can see more of Erica’s charming work here. Stop by and say hello!

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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.