A New Challenge for September in the Textile Design Lab: Conceal/Reveal


For our latest Chelsea’s Challenge in the Textile Design Lab we are diving into the theme of camouflage in its many forms. The goal for our members this month is to develop a collection of 3-5 patterns for the Spring/Summer ’19 season. While working on this trend, designers are asked to think about ways of concealing or revealing different elements of their designs to produce a camouflaged effect. In the full post in the Lab we link to relevant tutorials from our Summer of Creativity course to help get the wheels turning.

Michelle pinpointed four different directions for this trend, each of which is explored on a trend board complete with recommended Pantone colors. Participating designers in the Lab can choose to take on one, two, or three of the boards, or tackle them all as a group. By the end of the month the finished result we are aiming for is a cohesive, portfolio-ready pattern collection, and we help our members get there by providing feedback on our private forum and in our weekly live art critiques.

Ready to give the challenge a shot? Join us in the Textile Design Lab to get started. Once you are a member you will have access to tons of inspiring content, from in depth e-courses to guest expert trainings, an extensive resource guide and more. You’ll also have the opportunity to join our Photoshop for Designers group study, taught by the amazing Sherry London, which starts on Monday, September 11th and is free to Textile Design Lab members. We look forward to working with you!


Featured Designer: Laura Varsky


Today I am thrilled to feature the work of Laura Varsky, a pattern designer who lives and works in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

I was immediately struck by the level of detail within Laura’s work and the stories that seem to unfold and be shared through her beautifully illustrated characters and motifs. Her illustrations draw me into her world and I find myself searching for more details and more hidden treasures within her work. As a designer, it is very empowering to create something that draws people in and Laura seems to have mastered this.

Laura discovered the design world at the age of 16 and she knew that she wanted to become part of it. After graduating from the Universidad de Buenos Aires (UBA) she began focusing her work on book and record design. “Developing graphic languages and an interest in finding one of my own pushed me towards illustration. Without even realizing it, I found myself drawing for all kinds of projects: books, advertisements, animations, and (my personal favorite,) objects.”

Laura’s work is inspired by “my grandmother’s Russian world, the baroque of my city, movement of water, the sight of old iron bars, my cats sleeping, any cat playing, Bodoni font, unraveled yarn, the floor tiles of a gallery, a random close-up of a van Gogh, the first page of an old book, a forest in autumn, an unfortunate blot of ink.” Her design process begins by drawing illustrations by hand and then “using the magic of the digital world.”
Laura was kind enough to take a break from her work at the Universidad de Buenos Aires to answer a few of our questions:

How has your experience as a book and record designer influenced your pattern design work?

I approached pattern design through the illustration. And illustration through graphic design. I always say that I am not an illustrator but a designer who illustrates. I believe that my work as a designer is focused on creating graphic languages for others. What this means is that it is important for me to understand other worlds (almost always musical,) comprehend them, and finally translate them into the graphic language. I do so by playing with images in order to develop a concept.

On the contrary, I approach an illustration in search of a language that is my own, trying to dig into my personal universe. And that led me to the design of patterns, which was the best way to unite those two worlds—my own and the other, the world contained in the object.


How do you stay creative and inspired?

Jumping from one world to another (design, art direction, illustration, pattern design) keeps me frantically active. What I discover in each new project feeds the projects I work on in parallel and generates ideas for new endeavors. I live in a certain ambiguity regarding what tomorrow may bring, which can also bring some vertigo that keeps me very awake and entertained.


Do you design with a specific product in mind or does the illustration drive the creative process?

Generally, it is the search to generate a concept that is the engine of my work. If I have to design on a specific product I can experiment on the form, but the quest that commands me is the need to represent an idea. As the great William William Morris said, “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” That is my quest, to generate images that seduce and make you think. I do not see any other best possible use for an object.

You can learn more at Laura at her website: www.lauravarsky.com.ar.

Found Patterns: Look Up, Look Down

Looking for some fresh pattern inspiration? Why not change your perspective? Take your camera or sketchbook for a field trip and try looking at a building, tree, or other elements of your surroundings from a new angle. You might get some funny looks, but you could try lying down, looking upside down, or sideways to change up the view that you are used to seeing and might otherwise take for granted. Think about what you might see if you were a tiny creature with ground view, such as a mouse, versus one with an overhead view like a bird. Pattern inspiration is all around us, so next time you’re out and about, take a moment to look up, look down, and take in the shapes, shadows, lines and curves that could be the beginnings of your next great pattern.8-23-17

All images CC0 Creative Commons via pixabay.com

Featured Designer: Kathleen Fitzpatrick


Since moving to Asheville, NC a few years ago, I have become increasingly interested in the art of woven and hand-dyed textiles. Fiber artists are able to turn such simple materials into stunningly complex pieces of artwork and I am in awe of their ability to make their vision come to life in this way.

Today’s featured designer does this masterfully. Kathleen Fitzpatrick specializes in traditional techniques, doing all of her own hand weaving and hand dyeing. From these pieces she experiments with and creates digital images for print that are inspired by “the southwestern United States as well as the remains of a once industrial city found in my own backyard.”

Kathleen Fitzpatrick graduated from Kutztown University of Pennsylvania in 2014 with a Bachelors degree in Traditional Textiles and Art History. It was here where her interest in the arts quickly evolved into a passion for design. After earning her Bachelor’s Degree in 2015 she began to work at a local digital printing company. “In this role I guide textile designers, artists, and interior focused firms through the process of building custom fabric collections for print. This includes offering assistance with fabric selections, designing repeats, and color management.


“In 2016 I combined my workplace knowledge and enthusiasm for design and founded Tie-Up Textiles, a boutique business dedicated to both preserving and challenging traditional textile techniques. Tie-Up Textiles is an eclectic brand with a style not easily defined. My eye for texture and abstract motifs is inspired by the remains of a once booming industrial town here in my own backyard. However, my preference for natural, earthy color palettes and simple geometrics takes on a style all its own.


“My hand woven and hand dyed fabrics reflect the traditional side of my work, while the modern side incorporates those finished fabrics for use in continuous repeats and custom design. Moreover, digital printing allows me the ability to manipulate my weavings and dyed fabrics to substitute color, pattern, and texture for a vast array of new collections. The finished pieces – using either traditional or modern methods – are used in-house to create throw pillows, table linens, and one-off upholstery statement pieces for the home.

“There is a sort of discipline and patience required by the art of weaving and hand dyeing that I’m attracted to. Both require process and structure in order to achieve the final product; there are no short cuts. And, these techniques cannot easily be mass produced, which is often a perk for my clients. They love that their piece has been thoughtfully and personally created, and that it is truly one-of-a-kind.

Tie-Up-Textiles-Hand-Dyed-Napkins“On the contrary, my digital work is often a less labor and time intensive process. But together they balance each other. When I feel creatively stalled with one, I simply jump to the other. I believe it is this balancing act that continually inspires my experimentation in merging traditional and modern processes.”

Please visit Kathleen at www.tieuptextiles.com to learn more.

New Chelsea’s Challenge: Creating Patterns Around the Theme of “Light”

Light challenge Textile Design Lab

Each month Textile Design Lab members have the opportunity to take part in our “Chelsea’s Challenge” design challenges. This month, the challenge is based around the theme of light, and includes sub-themes on prisms, iridescence, and more. Over the course of four weeks, TDL members will work on building a cohesive collection of 3-5 patterns based on this theme. We provide mood boards and downloadable Pantone colors as a jumping off point, but love watching our members’ ideas blossom and transform from the provided inspiration!

The first step is putting together a “backbeat” for their collection, which includes ideas on a target customer or market, any trends they wish to incorporate, and how their own personal style and favorite artistic techniques can be utilized in developing this collection. Along the way the Textile Design Lab team and fellow members from the community provide feedback on our private forum. It’s a blast to see collections develop this way from beginning sketches to a polished pattern collection. You can check out some of the work our students have created in the past on our dedicated Chelsea’s Challenge Pinterest board!

If you’d like to get involved in the challenge and become part of our supportive e-learning community, we invite you to join us in the Textile Design Lab. The deadline to complete the Light challenge is Monday, September 4th, so there’s plenty of time to dive in…we hope to see you there!

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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.