Keys to Creative Collaborations

We are gearing up for our annual Collaboration for Designers group study that starts on Monday August 1st in the Textile Design Lab, and can’t think of a better way to celebrate than with this fabulous guest post by Dari Design Studio! It is an honor to welcome sisters Dariela and Dariana Cruz back to the blog to share more of their wonderful insights (check out their previous tutorial on how to photograph your surface pattern designs here.) 

Keys to Creative Collaborations with Dari Design Studio, guest post on Pattern Observer

Tips to growing your business through creative connections

Do these situations sound familiar to you? Have you ever had a great idea for a new project but didn’t follow through because you felt the work would require help and you didn’t have a partner to work with? Maybe you already realize the benefits of collaborating and are wanting to connect with other creatives but don’t know how to get started? Are you thinking that other creatives won’t be interested in connecting with you, due to fears of competition and the whole crowded marketplace environment?

If I were to tell you that you could grow your business by collaborating with other creatives, would you believe me? But, it’s true! And working alongside other creatives and artists can be an extremely satisfying way to grow your business as well as your personal life. After all, isn’t growth the ultimate goal for all of life?

Why Collaborate?

Today more than ever collaborations can help us grow personally and professionally. It’s  important to see our creative peers as potential partners because as we form alliances, we find strength in numbers. Technology makes it even easier because now we can collaborate with others remotely without having to be in the same city.

Among many of the benefits of collaborations these are my favorites:

• Interacting and maintaining relationships always bring an enormous potential for growth.

• Our personalities, likes, dislikes, roles, aptitudes, virtues and faults come to the surface easier than when we work alone. This allows us to know ourselves better and self awareness always leads us to becoming a better person, because we make more assertive decisions, more aligned with who we are.

• Creativity increases. Not only is there more creativity available but also ideas feed from each other’s processes and new creativity sparks in ways that would be impossible if there was only one person.

• We become more effective as a whole. We get better results yet each collaborator works less than normal.

• There is extra value that comes from giving and receiving what the other doesn’t have. There is always something to gain and something to give – resources, followers, knowledge, techniques, new systems, new methods, traveling, and so on.

Keys to Creative Collaborations with Dari Design Studio, guest post on Pattern Observer

How to find someone to collaborate with

• Build your tribe, most likely your future partner will come from your tribe or will show up from seeing the passion you show in what you do.

• Go as far as you can with your project or idea while you search for the perfect partner to collaborate with. For the time being get everything ready. Put yourself in their shoes. Wouldn’t you want to see someone ready and with his/her idea together? Have a website, a diagram, map a draft, a written description, a sketch, a Pinterest board. Show you are serious about it and that your intentions are truthful. The important thing here is that you aren’t waiting for a partner to come and do all the work, there is a clear difference between collaborating and just hiring someone’s services.

• Have a vision of the person you would like to work with based on qualities. When you envision your partner, make sure you are focusing on qualities, instead of external specifics. As you build your vision, listen to your intuition here. Say the words and see how they ring inside. Qualities sound like this: Self starter, responsible, humorous, easy going energy, bold, and so on. Stay alert for qualities you haven’t developed yet, that way there will be a more complete web between you.

• Start drafting an agreement: Think through a structure for the relationship and the project. What will the roles be, how many hours of work, what is expected regarding ways to communicate. The agreement will help you filter through candidates and can work as a guide to help you decide. However, even though agreements are meant to guide us, we must be flexible and adjust our ways as we see pertinent.

• Be active in Masterminds and Facebook groups that aren’t your own. Here is where you can not only find your potential connection to collaborate with but also a group of people that can watch the project come along and support it from the start.

• Don’t be afraid of approaching someone. Relationships take time, and sometimes we don’t have that time. Many collaborations just start based on how in sync people feel about the same project, once involved in the project the relationship grows from there. Remember if someone says “no” that just means “no, right now” or take it as a detour sign, there is a better fitting collaboration somewhere else. 

• Send a clear message about what you are looking for. Post it on your website or in a relevant Facebook group. Put the message out there and see what comes back!

Once collaborating keep this in mind:

Collaborating can sometimes show up as a rocky road. That isn’t a bad thing. That is just the clue to know it is time to shift perspectives and grow.

To me there are 2 key aspects of collaboration that need to be in place:

1. All members agree on the main mission of the whole and welcome different ways and personalities to get there. The idiosyncrasy and the culture of the collaboration is  what makes it remarkable and noteworthy.

2. All members establish civilized, creative and proven ways to transcend disagreements.

Given those essentials there are some tips than can help along the way:

• Choose your battles. Know as well as possible your potential deal breakers.

• Be crystal clear on the role you are performing.

• Refresh your memory regularly on the mission, goals and objectives. That keeps you inspired and on point in your role.

• Focus more on executing than planning.

• Infuse the collaboration with your personal life. Don’t try to separate everything. In the end, we are humans and we connect better when we allow people to see our authentic human side.

• Stay fun and creative!


Keys to Creative Collaborations with Dari Design Studio, guest post on Pattern Observer Dari Design Studio

Venezuelan born artists and sisters, Dariela and Dariana Cruz of Dari Design Studio are on a mission to infuse your life with creativity, a sense of style, and bold vibrant designs. Currently residing in California, they work together virtually. Dariela lives in San Diego and has had an interest in design from an early age. Her sister, Dariana, lives in Los Angeles and came to love design after years of working in the industry. Together the duo love to create pattern designs and uplifting illustrations and photographs. Their modernly eclectic portfolio blends certainty with experimentation, multicultural traditions with modern trends, and hand painted art with digital.


Featured Designer: Olu Vandenbussche

Featured designer Olu Vandenbussche on Pattern Observer‘Meanwhile below the surface’: print inspired by my childhood pets (goldfish), dress by Lily&Woody

Featured designer Olu Vandenbussche on Pattern Observer print inspired by the dinosaur collection and toolbox of this 4-year old, shirt by Fruitsdemere

Featured designer Olu Vandenbussche on Pattern Observer

Custom print inspired by my family’s favourite appetizer ‘guacamole’
Featured designer Olu Vandenbussche on Pattern Observer

Ecofriendly wallpaper collection intended for nurseries and inspired by the story of the princess and the frog Featured designer Olu Vandenbussche on Pattern Observer your own Brand: print inspired by the logo of De Punt, a local growing platform for sustainable entrepreneurs, shirt by JoChapeau


Belgian textile designer Olu Vandenbussche founded her design studio Manel in 2015 to deal with the challenges caused by Fast Fashion. To name but a few: largescale pollution, exploitation of textile workers in low wage countries, job loss in the western textile industry etc. Olu deals with these challenges in her own, hands-on way through workshops, a sustainable fabric line and custom design projects that follow the principles of Slow Design.

For her sustainable approach she was awarded the Bizz Buzz Award for Sustainable/Social Entrepreneurship in December 2015.

Olu is currently working on her first ecofriendly baby collection for a Belgian brand called Timmy. The collection will consist of sleepwear, interior products and soft toys and is due to launch this fall.
Olu likes to draw her designs by hand first, then scan them and add colour in Adobe Illustrator. She finds inspiration for her designs in the fantasy world of children, their favourite stories, toys and pastimes.

We are delighted to announce that tomorrow Olu will be kicking off 7 weeks of member-created tutorials as part of the Summer of Creativity in the Textile Design Lab. Her enlightening post on “A Slow Approach to Textile Design” describes the key features of the “slow design” movement, such as local production and low waste, what designers can do to promote slow design, her recommendations for the production stage, and more. You can join the Lab here to have access to the post when it is released tomorrow.

You can see more of Olu’s work at or visit her on social media at the following sites:

Even Heroes Need Help

Even Heroes Need Help-Pattern ObserverFrom an outside perspective it might look like we just create patterns that get printed on fabric or design products that sit on a shelf. We both know that there’s more to it than that, though, don’t we? Consumers, clients, and our creative souls are all begging for truly exceptional products; work that inspires, empowers, comforts, and brings joy to the consumer on a daily basis.

In order to provide this level of quality, we must give ourselves time to focus on our craft and our strengths. We need to give ourselves time to experiment and innovate. We must give ourselves time to connect with our clients, connect with our customers, and connect with our community. Making the room in our lives for this deep work means that we have to focus on what we know we do best, and then reach out to others for help.

Going it alone is not productive, and certainly not necessary. By coming together as a community of creatives, where we can reach out to one another to fill the gaps, we raise the level of our work. We become heroes to the consumer and to our industry.

Once you know you need help, you can tackle the roadblock a whole lot better. You know that roadblock…most of us have had it; at least I have experienced it many times in the past. It all starts here: who can you trust for the quality of work you need? And once you find quality help, will you be able to afford it?

I’ve worked with web designers who promised me over and over again that they could bring my vision to life. Only after weeks of being lead on did I discover they didn’t have enough technical know-how to get the job done. A tough lesson learned, but I moved on, a bit smarter because of it. After all, web design is not my expertise. However, textile design is.

I’ve worked with freelance textile designers who weren’t familiar with repeats. Had I not taken the time to review their work and find mistakes, my client would have spent thousands of dollars to fix the work at a later date. The result would have been detrimental damage to my reputation.

In both of these cases I worked with inexperienced designers. They were talented. Both were passionate about their work. They each responded enthusiastically when I asked if they could execute my ideas. But in reality, they didn’t know enough to bring my vision to life.

Bringing another person into your world and into your work is scary. We all fear situations such as those I’ve shared. But when it works…when you find that person who is as passionate as you are about your business AND is a superstar at what they do…then you’ve tapped into pure magic.

So, how do you find these gems?

Look for these things:

  • A quality portfolio that resonates with your brand
  • Testimonials or case studies demonstrating success
  • Clear pricing so you know what to expect
  • Appropriate response times for your project

There is no solid reason to NOT allow yourself the time and freedom to focus on the work you do well, work that makes your creative soul thrive. Reach out to creatives who have the experience and demonstrated success to come alongside you and add value to your project.

That’s the best way to be a true hero.

Our Changing Industry, And How To Become A Hero

Become A Hero- Pattern Observer

The textile design industry is changing rapidly, just like most industries do. That’s what happens with time, growth, and in the spirit of progress. Budgets are tweaked to fit different business strategies, timelines have become tighter and with more being done via the internet the opportunities to travel and meet with clients are rarer.

Even so, we still love and respect the industry, don’t we? We still feel passionate about design. So what do we do? We take more and more on ourselves. We try to be the hero. We try to do it all in an effort to give our best work to our industry.

We find ourselves doing work that isn’t our passion and isn’t our area of expertise because we know that the work needs to be done. We think doing it ourselves will save us (or our clients) time and money. We find ourselves doing things like designing websites instead of focusing on patterns. We find ourselves designing patterns when we ought to be designing products. The list goes on and on…

Instead, we need to focus on finding solutions that help clients, while saving ourselves from becoming overwhelmed or disconnected with our favorite parts of the business. We still feel passionate about design and want to deliver exceptional products. We want to feel like a hero—the one who gracefully gets it done for our clients, even if we have those “frazzled” moments that we all have on occasion. Those are our little secret!

So, how do we make it happen?

We need to understand the changing demands of our clients, without losing the insight as to what we love about the industry, which is a reflection of us in so many ways. To do this, it requires focusing on four things:

  • Dependability—when we deliver what we say we will, clients will appreciate that. This never goes out of style!
  • Passion and innovation—staying abreast of the trends and what our clients’ expectations may be in regards to them helps us be better, and for most of us, it’s a joyful part of our creative experience.
  • Flexibility—if we show that we can adapt and keep delivering high quality results to clients, even if their budgets and scopes are changing for any reason, we show our value as a collaborator and partner, despite being independent.
  • Excellence—our goal should always be to produce high quality patterns that we are proud of, which is the main purpose that clients need us. Everyone’s ultimate success always lies in the design and its application to the products.

Yes, this is quite a list! It’s tough to balance these requirements when you’re trying to do it all. Imagine if… You could stop trying to do it all and focus on what you do best. What if you reached out for help so you could focus on the quality work that got you here in the first place?

Perhaps it’s time to stop doing everything so you can truly become the hero. By focusing on what you do best, you’re set free to deliver exceptional products. Your reputation will become stronger and that will give you all the makings of a hero.

That’s what I want for you. That’s what I want for our industry.





From the Textile Design Lab: Chelsea’s Challenge – “Graphic Statements”

Chelsea’s Challenge is a monthly post series in the Textile Design Lab, in which we share design ideas and inspiration to help our students build pattern collections for their portfolios. During the month of June our Chelsea’s Challenge focused on the Graphic Statements trend that we spotted on the Fall ’16 runway. We haven’t done one of these posts in a while but with all of the beautiful, marketable collections that are constantly being created by our Lab members in these challenges and it was high time to share some! Here is just a small sampling of the work that was created around the Graphic Statements trend. Enjoy!


Annette Chatman

Annette Chatman featured on Pattern Observer

“My inspiration for this collection was the organic geometric patterns that occur in the natural world around us. I used mono printing, collage and wax crayons to create textural artwork which I scanned in to the computer before layering the images and simplifying the colour palette. The target market for this collection is women’s fashion.”

See more of Annette’s work at


Sarah Nussbaumer

Sarah Nussbaumer featured on Pattern Observer

“Chelsea’s Challenge “Graphic Statements” offered three ways into the topic. I explored the trend that focused on organic textural patterns simplified by a monochromatic color palette. My inspiration was patterns from woodland views, animal textures as well as the weathering patterns on abandoned painted structures. I worked in Adobe Sketch, Adobe Draw, PS Touch, Adobe Capture and Concepts apps before moving to Photoshop and Illustrator. With the apps I explored many textural ideas and experimented with the features of each app. Finally I started to select areas that became motifs that helped to develop the collection. The patterns would be suitable for the apparel market, especially active wear. The collection appeals to women in the color range presented and men with a shift to a deeper richer color palette.”

See more from Sarah at her portfolio site ( or visit her on Facebook, Instagram or Behance.


Cynthia Jacquette

Cynthia Jacquette featured on Pattern Observer

“My collection was developed from one of my greatest sources of inspiration—the graphic and angular shadows found in urban environments. To achieve a bold look with a handmade feel, I began by experimenting with black Pigma markers on white paper. In Illustrator, I combined the vectorized scans of the sketches and added pops of color. This collection is aimed at the women’s activewear market, perfect for a customer who loves the fast-paced city life.”

Visit,, or to see more of Cynthia’s work.


Catherine Wilson

Catherine Wilson featured on Pattern Observer

“For this challenge I tried to translate the movement and energy of Abstract Expressionism and calligraphic marks into wearable designs for women’s fashion. I drew dozens of ink drawings before I made ones I really liked. I also incorporated scanned textures and a photo I took of an multicolored dyed piece of fabric. I assembled and tweaked everything in Photoshop.”

Check out Catherine on Instagram at


Feeling inspired? We have over 70 challenges now available in the Textile Design Lab, with a new one released each month. Join us to participate and build your portfolio!

Check out more student responses to the Graphic Statements challenge and others on our Chelsea’s Challenge Pinterest board.


Follow Us

About Us

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.