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Create opportunities by exploring new markets

I want to introduce you to two designers who have experienced a huge leap forward in their career by exploring new markets, communities, and shifting their understanding of what is possible in their careers. Their stories are inspirational and provide us some valuable insight into the way they went about achieving their goals and creating new opportunities.

Sherry London

Sherry London is an accomplished writer, teacher, and Photoshop expert, but when it came to her own artistic style she was lost. She knew she loved to create textural, motif-less patterns, but she didn’t think there was a market for her work. In most of the courses she had taken and contests she’d entered, it seemed like the cute illustrative work always stole the show. These experiences led her to believe that “this was the wrong career path completely” and she came very close to giving up on her dreams of selling her work in the marketplace. But here’s the thing—Sherry’s textural patterns are gorgeous and, in fact, there is a HUGE market for this style of work in the apparel industry.

Sherry had the opportunity to explore the apparel market further in Mastering Your Market and everything “clicked.” She had finally found her design home and immediately began to design with more confidence and purpose. In fact, Sherry recently signed on as one of Patternbank’s newest designers. By exploring a new market, Sherry is now creating the patterns that come most naturally to her and beginning her career as a professional surface pattern designer.


Ellie Cashman

create opportunities-ellie-cashmanI first had the pleasure of working with Ellie a few years ago through one of our Pattern Observer courses. Despite her innate talent, Ellie felt a bit lost when it came to finding a market for her work. Again, she knew what she wanted to create, but she didn’t know how to find the right market for her work. Despite this fact, Ellie kept creating the flowers that inspire her so and began sharing them through her blog and Pinterest community and boy was that ever the right decision!

In May of 2013, an image of Ellie’s “Dark Floral” wallpaper went viral on Pinterest. Purchase inquiries streamed in from all over the world, prompting Ellie to launch her very own web shop with a signature collection of wallpapers available for purchase. She now creates her signature floral patterns for her wallpaper collection, which is shipped across the world. Had Ellie not stayed true to her style, while exploring new markets and new communities, her business may have never come to be.

“Pinterest and Instagram give designers the ability to connect directly with consumers for free, so just keep making work that reflects your authentic style and getting it out there for people to see. This is the most valuable feedback you can get and it costs you nothing and teaches you so much! It’s a really exciting time. Designers can bring their products to market and don’t need to wait around for the endorsement of manufacturers or brick and mortar stores. The internet has blown everything open and that makes this a really exciting time for us! I think one of the most beautiful things that will come out of this is more variety, more choice, because there are so many millions of creative styles and visions and so many millions of consumer niches to be discovered. There’s no longer any reason to force ourselves to design for the status quo/mass market, so put your time and energy into doing what is YOU and that will always be time and energy well spent!”


Two Examples, A World of Opportunity

In both Sherry and Ellie’s cases, you can see how each designer stayed true to their innate style, but found success by challenging what they knew to be “the norm.” Instead of focusing on what their friends or peers were doing, and forcing themselves to fit into that box, these designers found success in markets, communities, and businesses that they never thought were possible.

How could a new technique, market, or community positively affect your business? Would it bring in new clients, help you grow your services business, or inspire innovative ideas? Let me know in the comments below.



Textile Designer: Lee Coren





When I see Lee Coren’s work, one word comes to mind: escape. Her patterns, fabrics and photography all take me to a faraway place where there is no email, bookkeeping or dishes to be done. Maybe I simply need a vacation, but I think it is the way Lee uses abstract textures, simplistic color palettes and minimal motifs that allow the viewer’s mind to wander and explore.

Lee Coren’s collection features “handmade screen printed fabrics as well as original digital prints I photographed. The result – a sophisticated and fun twist on modern textiles. My designs are inspired by a mixture of two strong elements in my life – my local urban surrounding and the need for escapism and a breath of fresh air. The landscape photos were taken during varied road trips. The new addition to the family this spring, the Dead Sea design, was photographed during a 2 days trip to the area, on a sunset that washed the entire landscape in beautiful breathe taking pink shades. The new scarf designs were inspired by urban encounters of steel and organic green wild plants.”

We can’t all jet off to the Dead Sea this year, but you can purchase one of Lee Coren’s pieces and take that essence of escape on your next trip to the grocery store or bank. Check out more from Lee Coren here.


Featured Pattern Designer: Leanna Perry

pattern designer_LeannaPerry_PatternObserver

Hello there fellow Pattern Observers!

Today I am delighted to share the work of pattern designer Leanna Perry. Leanna was born and raised in Kansas City, MO which she reminds us is home to the best BBQ on the planet. Being a Carolina girl I might have to disagree, but I digress… ; )

Leanna now lives in Minneapolis, MN where she creates patterns and “illustrates crazy hyper-graphic environments.” I LOVE that description and I love Leanna’s work. What drew me to her work was how much of her personality shines through in every inch of what she creates. Leanna recently had the opportunity to work with 3M and Scotch designing the illustrated patterned Washi tape that you see above and can purchase here. Leanna did a great job of creating prints that are slightly toned down for this more conservative customer, but are still 100% Leanna.

To learn more about Leanna work you can visit her website:




The Sixties – Part 3 – Psychedelia

Series on the history of surface design by Julie Gibbons.

Psychedelia in surface design embraced the wildest of the wild; using a mind-bending mix of optical swirls and eye-poppingly intense colour. The designs were exuberant and extravagant; they were like looking at the world through undulating rainbow lenses. Distinctive for their fluid swirls, they often used bright, flat colour and cartoon-like outlines, with segments layered in apparently random arrangements.

The name itself comes from a subculture of the 60s, and it was associated with the states of altered consciousness achieved through the use of various stimulants including sensory stimulation or deprivation, but most commonly through the use of hallucinatory substances. There was a great deal of art and graphic design produced along the same lines, with a few particularly famous examples, such as Cream’s album cover for Disraeli Gears by the Australian artist Martin Sharp.

Many existing design styles from other cultures and time frames were reinvented with psychedelic overtones. Paisley in particular with its expansive curves seemed ready-made for use within psychedelia, and was used liberally.

1960's textile designers- Pattern Observer

Image credits clockwise from top left – 1. 2.; 3.;;  5. Jack Lenor Larsen – Bojangles –

In America, Jack Lenor Larsen was an important figure, establishing the Larsen Design Studio in 1958. He launched the Butterfly Collection in 1967 – a group of intentionally fluid and free-flowing, bold patterns printed onto stretch rayon. This fabric was used for the upholstery of sculptural foam furniture, and the patterns were designed to counter the effects of distortion when in use.

Another champion of the style was the prolific designer Emilio Pucci, whose work rose to immense popularity in America during the 60s. Although his work embraced influences from eclectic classical, Op and Pop, and his travels through Indonesia, India and South America, he is probably best known for his psychedelic style, and his designs graced almost every form of fashion, including scarves, handbags, tights, and men’s ties.

1960's textile designers- Pattern Observer

Image credits clockwise from top left – 1. emilio pucci ties –;; 3. ; 4.; 5.