Featured Designer: Gillian Arnold


Some weeks I look at our featured designer’s work and a million thoughts and insights and observations come to mind. Other weeks I am left speechless; totally in awe of the creativity, the beauty, and the craftsmanship that I see before my eyes. This week is one of those weeks. The work that you see here was created by artist and designer Gillian Arnold. The vision that she holds for her work and business are so strong and so beautiful that I am going to use her words to share her story. Enjoy the journey ; )


About Gillian Arnold the design brand

“Gillian Arnold is a home wares, gifts and jewellery producer with a passion for blending botanical design and artisan production skills. We have a social mission to support community regeneration and employment opportunities for young people in the North East of England. Our designs are created by Gillian’s inexhaustible experimentation with sustainably gathered English wild plants and rich colour drenched collages, which are transferred to an ever growing range of handcrafted luxury products.

We also invest our artistry and profits into developing young people and community regeneration projects, deliberately situating our factory in an area of deprivation allowing us to insource our manufacturing process and help develop social renewal projects. We supply our handcrafted products internationally through our on-line and retail shop based in Bishop Auckland, and through an ever expanding list of selected retailers.  We work in partnership with local colleges and universities to offer practical training and employment to young people.”


About Gillian Arnold the artist

“Gillian Arnold is an artist and surface pattern designer who has worked for over 20 years, fine tuning her craft techniques and developing her artisan production methods. Gillian’s tireless commitment to her art work and methodology is what gives her work its depth and beauty.

When you’re looking at a Gillian Arnold product, you’re looking at a piece of nature, frozen in time. Every design begins its life in the ground, as a wild flower, a roadside wonder or something drifting in the wind. It is a handpicked bouquet, chosen because something in the formation of the plant life inspired Gillian to look twice, pick it up and produce art with it.

Gillian prints onto many surfaces, always in exquisite quality and it has taken years for her to perfect these skills of being able to bring an honest but artistic representation of wild life onto fabrics, glass, ceramics, acrylic, aluminium and many more surfaces.”

Visit Gillian around the web at www.gillianarnold.com or on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.


Vivien Haley’s Elementa Collection

Vivien Haley Hibiscus square and rectangle silk scarvesVivien Haley Hibiscus square silk scarf detailVivien Haley Acanthus rectangle silk scarf on fenceVivien Haley Nasturtium rectangle silk scarf detail

It is always such a joy to hear from designers we’ve featured in the past and see what new and wonderful things they are up to. Vivien Haley has graced the Pattern Observer blog twice in the past (here and here) and we couldn’t wait to share her latest collection, “Elementa” with you. Drooling over these amazing textures!

Vivien writes, “Elementa was created from my observations of nature and landscape where I live on the south coast of Sydney. My awareness of the forces of nature, that effect the change of colours and atmospherics of the landscape. The particular plants I used for the scarf designs are not indigenous to this area, but rather introduced plants, that have made their own sense of place in the Australian landscape.

The Nasturtium grows wild everywhere, and enlarging the motif, using dusky pinks, blue and indigo, it has created the feel of a landscape at dusk. The mono print method, transfers the delicacy of the leaves and plants, onto paper beautifully. By painting the leaves and printing onto the paper directly, a variety of images from strong to delicate are created, depending on how much paint is applied, and whether you print the leaf once or twice.

The Acanthus leaf when enlarged, and printed in the same way, has taken on the feel of a dark mountain. With the addition of water colour marks, and block prints onto paper, the effect is of water pools and shadows in the forest. The dark restrained colours add to the mood.

However, the Hibiscus flower is thought of as being bold and bright, but when found on the ground in a state of decay, loses its colour. The painting of the petals and printing on to paper, is like a memory, and adds to the fragility of the motif.

All of the art work for the Elementa range is created by hand, as I work more as an artist, than a designer. The different components are then scanned, and recreated on the computer. This results in complex and creative designs that have the clarity of the original artwork.

When working on a collection, one of the most important factors is to employ the technique that really helps create the feel of the design.”

Learn more about Vivien’s work at www.vivienhaley.com.

Featured Designer: Bryna Shields


You are certainly in for a textural treat today! We are excited to feature the work of Bryna Shields, an illustrator and surface designer based in Portland, OR. Bryna is also a member of our Textile Design Lab membership community! Bryna’s work is informed by a strong passion for vibrant color and movement and she draws inspiration from the dramatic landscapes of the Pacific Northwest (and nature in general), mid century art, vintage housewares, architecture and traveling. “My art practice is currently focused on experimenting with various media, combining unusual subject matter, and exploring the different ways they can be manipulated. Currently my practice includes blind contour drawings, mixed media paintings, and collage.”


“For this recent collection, under the overarching theme of ‘nocturne’, I was thinking about the great unknown and vastness of the galaxies in space, as well as the things here on Earth that resemble dramatic dream states but are more tangible (such as thunderstorms and super cells). The idea that storms can bring drama and danger, as well as calm. I also thought it would be interesting to incorporate the markings of nocturnal animals that come to life in the night. Creating a moodboard with this imagery in mind helped to envision how these elements could be combined in the art.”


“I started off creating a pile of paintings using gouache, india ink and watercolor. Then I scanned them in and layered two or three paintings on top of each other in Photoshop, exploring the interplay of the bright colors with some of the more stark markings. This was the most abstract theme I’ve worked on, so I used that as an opportunity to be really playful and experimental with the development until the piece evoked a feeling that harkened back to the original ideas of storms and galaxies.” Learn more about Bryna’s work here: brynashields.com/blog


Screen Printed Products by Ailsa Lishman


printinglogoAilsa Lishman is a recent graduate from Manchester School of Art, where she specialized in printed textiles for interiors. She currently offers a beautiful array of hand screen printed pillows, as well as small zip-up pouches in a variety of fun and funky colorways. Ailsa’s love of experimenting with “layers of texture and colour” is evident in her playful mark-making seen in these designs.

“After graduating and interning for a while I was selected to exhibit at the New Design Britain Awards at ExCel London 2015, whilst there being surrounded by other textile designers from all different specialisms, I found many had started to develop from fabrics to products. Being fresh from graduating, this wasn’t something I had considered before and it triggered a spark in me to develop my fabrics into something I could showcase and sell.

I was unsure at first how to develop further as I really wanted to use screen print to create my designs. I love the process of screen printing, the hands on nature and the fact that no two prints are ever exactly the same.

I found a creative co-working space that was offering screen print facilities local to me, and off I went!

I taught myself how to sew in zips and linings and created a collection of screen printed cushions with a fresh and contemporary feel. I wanted to create designs different to what’s available on the high street.

For those who perhaps weren’t a fan of a room full of scatter cushions, I create a range of screen printed pouch bags with fun and quirky prints, with various designs and colours to choose from.”


Ailsa has recently created an online shop and a website to promote her work and designs, and you can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.


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!

Instagram Updates and Your Design Business

hashtag breathe

You’ve probably noticed a lot of chatter recently about the changes to Instagram that many users thought would happen today, March 29th. 

The good news is that users can stop worrying about this new development; your Instagram feed is not changing today. This new adjustment is currently only in the testing stage. Instagram will be changing the way it displays the news feed for a select group of users. For this group of users the change will occur in their news feed. Instead of scrolling through a chronological flow of friends’ images, Instagram will determine the images a user sees based on an algorithmically based timeline. The new algorithm is designed to predict the images posted by your friends that you would like the most. In a nutshell, your Instagram news feed eventually will work in a similar manner to the news feed on Facebook. 

Instagram has used the “chronological order” feed since it started in 2010. And some users are not happy with the proposed change. Will you like the new timeline? That depends on how you use Instagram and how you interact on Instagram.

Before you stress out over the new way your news feed will behave when Instagram officially changes the algorithm, consider the fact that according to Instagram the average user misses about 70% of their friends’ photos. The new algorithm is designed to help you see more of the images you will find interesting. In an Instagram blog post yesterday the thinking behind the changes are explained: “As Instagram has grown, it’s become harder to keep up with all the photos and videos people share. This means you often don’t see the posts you might care about the most. To improve your experience, your feed will soon be ordered to show the moments we believe you will care about the most.”

Chances are you’ve probable already seen dozens of friends on Instagram asking their friends to “Turn on Post Notifications” for their account so your will get an alert every time that account posts. This may work for some people, but getting alerts all day long from several accounts does not guarantee a friend will check Instagram more often.

If you are on Instagram to build a community, drive sales, or get new freelance assignments for your creative business, then the new changes will be an adjustment. However, we think the opportunity to connect with your community on Instagram is now even more important. Staying relevant in the constantly changing landscape of social media involves building a network by communicating with your community. This is true across all social media platforms.

Relying on an automated feed of carefully curated images makes posting efficient but it does not build a community. If you are a creative in the design field, staying relevant to your followers/friends involves commenting and responding to comments. These conversations can lead to new ideas for your designs and even a new client or customer. 

Instagram is just one way you can encourage customers and clients to stay in touch with your brand. Here is a quick list of ways you can build your brand online:

  1. Build an attractive website that showcases your best work. Be sure to include social media links and your blog. (Two examples of website platforms that offer online portfolio templates ideal for artists include WordPress and Squarespace.)
  2. Make your brand and your website easy to find online. One easy way to do this is by continually updating the content on your website via your blog.
  3. Stay connected with potential buyers and clients by writing a newsletter. Newsletters highlight latest news in your design business in an easy to read format. Plus, once you email your latest newsletter to subscribers, your subscribers can also easily forward your newsletter to other people in their company. (One example of a newsletter platform to consider is MailChimp.)
  4. If you find a manufacturer or a brand that might be a good match for your design work, reach out to the art directors and buyers and introduce yourself via email. Before you send an email, be sure to check out artist submission guidelines on the website.
  5. Stay up to date on trends in your field. Follow brands and artists you admire on Pinterest and industry blogs including the Pattern Observer blog.
  6. Network with other designers in the field. Don’t be afraid to start a conversation with designers or brands when you see something you like on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.
  7. Join an online community of designers. Pattern Observer and the Textile Design Lab are both supportive design groups that offer resources to help you build your brand.

This post was written by Pattern Observer team member Chris Olson. Chris is a Colorado-based illustrator and surface designer known for her modern playful illustrations and designs that you can view at ChrisCocoMedia.com. She writes and sketches about all things design at her Pattern Bliss blog. You can follow Chris on Instagram at @Chris_Coco_Olson

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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.