Creating Pattern Design Collections Your Way

As pattern designers, we are all passionate about our work and creating unique designs. We want our pattern design collections to feel fresh, creative, and authentic to our brand and artistic style.

We each want our artwork to stand out in the crowded surface pattern design marketplace, while also being representative of what is special about our personalities. And as unique as our artistic styles and experiences are, so many of us are still forcing ourselves to use systems and formulas that don’t work well for us.

In this day and age, we are surrounded by teachers, mentors, designers, and artists sharing their processes and techniques everywhere, from Instagram to YouTube. And learning these techniques can be incredibly inspiring, and helpful. They help us to achieve our goals more quickly, learning from other’s mistakes and their successes.

But adopting someone else’s process comes with a downside, as well.

Creating Pattern Design Collections

Here’s what I see happening to so many designers in our industry:

We invest in a course, a coach, or a book to learn new techniques and grow as a designer. We see that this method worked for others and we feel like “this is the way,” this is how I should be working. And sometimes this new process works out great for us. Then at other times, it does not work. Still, we stick with it and keep forcing ourselves to use a system that isn’t serving our process. Eventually we get frustrated, and self-doubt begins creeping in, causing us to feel like we aren’t good enough, or talented enough, or not enough in some way.

When really, it’s just that we are trying to force our unique style into someone else’s system. Someone else’s way of creating, working, and sharing their work with the world.

So, what’s the solution? Give up learning from others and do it all on our own?

Of course not.

Finding Your Process

What we should be doing, and what I am encouraging members of the Textile Design Lab to do, is to take these processes, these methods, and adjust them as needed to best fit our individual style and way of working.

Our design processes should serve us, not diminish our creativity.

But how do you know? How do you know when a system is not serving you?

One exercise that I did recently was to document my current design process. I say “current” because my design process changes over time, adjusting to fit my lifestyle, energy level, and interest at the time.

Documenting this design process, or workflow, was really helpful for me to see where there is room for improvement and all the steps that I am taking to create pattern design collections.

About now, you may be wondering, what does your method look like?

In our Sellable Sketch group-study which starts on May 24th, we cover one way of creating pattern design collections, but we also discuss discovering one’s artistic style, trend research, and preparing files for clients. It’s an in-depth course that has helped hundreds of designers get on the right track. A track that leads them to discovering their own collection development process.

Some designers choose to add extra steps, others choose to take out some steps if they are not needed. My hope is that the course is a solid jumping off point for designers to make their own unique processes that support their creative businesses.

Listening to our creative intuition helps us to connect with the tips and techniques that will best serve our creative process. When this happens, it feels amazing. Self-doubt and insecurity go out the window, allowing creativity to come flooding in. It feels so good.

Take some time to think about how you’re creating pattern design collections. What methods work wonderfully for you? Where is their room for—or a desire to—make an adjustment? If you choose to share your collection development workflow on social media, please tag me @patternobserver so that I can check it out. I’d love to hear from you.

  1. Thank you for this.
    I have been feeling exactly the same way.
    I am tired of doubting myself. The courses are great but all too often they foster imposter syndrome.

  2. The Backbeat which is taught in the Sellable Sketch is very helpful to me! It goes further than the traditional moodboard. The only thing I now need to develop is more focus to keep myself to the Backbeat and stop wandering off!

    1. I am so glad that the backbeat is helpful! You might want to think of a way to document your ideas so that they are stored somewhere, but yet you stay on track? Then when you are short on ideas or inspiration you have a log of collection concepts waiting on you!

  3. Thank you so much for your words. This what I have been doing; shrinking my own creativity to be like others who are more successful.

    1. I am glad that the post resonated with you and I hope it will be helpful. It’s important to explore new techniques and processes, but it is even more important that we then adjust them to what we need and what supports our creative process. Wishing you all the best!

  4. Really interesting read and completing resonates with me. I have been taking lots of courses over the years, both at evening classes in college as well as online. I think it is wonderful to learn how different artists approach their work. I can understand what you are saying with the risk of slipping into creating in the same way a course teaches you. I have been conscious of this and try to take little elements from each course that has worked for me and applied that to my own style.
    I have recently just had 3 of my collections licensed with a company and I couldn’t be happier. I have another one on the way next year too. I am just about to write a blog about my process of creating the collection. I will be sure to tag you in it Michelle.
    Lisa x

  5. I completely agree, find your own voice through the highs and lows. Don’t be afraid to fail, because you will. I spent most of my working life in healthcare, I also started painting several years ago as an outlet. I also designed patterns.
    I decided to make a change in my life and I started pattern design full time.
    Oh…did I mention that I’ll be turning 60 this summer?

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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 our private design community, The Textile Design Lab.

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