Surtex Preview: Kim Davidson Designs


Yesterday I had the pleasure of meeting Kim Crisler Davidson at the Javits center and I am delighted to wrap up our series of SURTEX features with her beautiful work. It’s easy to be drawn to her color usage and diverse – yet cohesive – pattern collections. She received her BA in Psychology at Mercer University, Atlanta, and then entered and graduated from Portfolio Center Atlanta (a trade school for graphic design, advertising, writing, and photography).

When it comes to Kim’s career, she has had one that most aspiring designers would be thrilled to experience, and as such, she is such an inspiration: “I am a professional graphic designer by trade and have been freelance for over 25 years. I am also a photographer that specializes in pet photography and have been licensing my images to licensees internationally since 2004. This past year I decided I would take on learning and designing textiles and repeat surface patterns… I wanted to learn something new and since I was going to be exhibiting my photography in SURTEX anyway, why not debut my own textile designs there, as well. I have exhibited in other shows in the past (for my photography) but this will be my first time EVER exhibiting at SURTEX as a textile designer. I’m very excited to meet new people and see what kind of response / feedback I get on my debut designs. I just hope I can compete on some level with all the great designers that will be there.”


I was curious about how Kim drew inspiration for her work and asked her about that. “Most of my inspiration comes from my photography. I typically take photos of nature, flowers, and natural patterns that exist out in the world, like the intricate details of a leaf or flower petal, etc. Then I blow those details up in scale and develop patterns from them. My style tends to be abstract and a little complex because of overlapping patterns and color combinations. I think my textiles would be a great fit for apparel, home decor, accessories, gift, and more.”

At SURTEX, Kim is hoping to connect with buyers and manufacturers in the apparel, home décor, and gift categories. Plus she’s always excited to meet other designers and exhibitors and learn from them. Her photography will also be exhibited for license, and she’ll be splitting time in her “booth for two”—one half being for Kim Davidson Designs and the other half Gifty Idea. When I asked Kim how she manages that, she said, “I’ve worked and continue to work diligently getting both of my companies ready for the show! It’s a lot of work, but I can’t wait to see what happens!”

Stop by Booth 2536 at this year’s SURTEX (May 20-22 in New York) and see all of Kim’s work. You can visit Kim’s website, as well.

Surtex Preview: Margie Tillman Ayres


There is a special quality to Margie Tillman Ayres work that I noticed right away when I was preparing this post. I love her handcrafted style, as well as her watercolors and all the little details she includes in her illustrations. Margie is the owner of Margie and the Moon, a children’s art and pattern design studio in New Orleans, LA. And has a B.A. from Tulane, as well as  B.F.A. from Savannah College of Art and Design. She is also a former painter and sculptor for the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, where she shared that her favorite project during that time was painting the backdrops for the Kids Tent—all which hang there each year to this day. She’s also worked as a scenic artist/sign writer on movie sets for the many films that have been shot around the New Orleans area.

Margie describes her life affectionately: “I love being the mommy to two very sweet little boys and married to one very sweet man. We share a shotgun house with our hound dog B.B.” The area that Margie grew up in has played a significant role in her inspiration. She shares: “I grew up on the Mississippi River swinging from vines on camping trips with my dad, and fishing for catfish and trout with my brother. I spent hours staring in awe at the swirling water of the Mississippi River, the webbed branches of oak trees, and the Kodachrome colors of the wildflowers in the hills surrounding Natchez, MS.

“I later moved a little farther down the river to my adopted city of New Orleans, LA, where my artwork is inspired by its vivid colors and extraordinary culture. I’m still mesmerized by the rhythm of the patterns I find in the flora and fauna of Louisiana. My work is heavily informed by the wild and boundless imagination of my two boys, the psychology of color, and the endurance of the human spirit.”


Margie also works as a Coordinator and Manager of the Kids Tent for the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation festivals. What she loves about this is: “I get to dream up crafts like alligator castanets and red beans and rice paper collages. Each festival that I work, without fail, crack open my heart and mind because of the art and creativity of the kids that visit the tent.”

When it comes to SURTEX, Margie is excited because: “The images I have included are heavily inspired by my second son’s growing vocabulary and sheer delight when he sees these animals, in particular. They represent snippets of our life in New Orleans: the wild tropical vegetation, our trips to visit the animals and fish at the Audubon Zoo and Aquarium, as well as the willow tree that shades our front yard where we draw pictures in sidewalk chalk. The bear and the frog are whom my older son imagines live under the giant elephant ears in our neighbor’s back yard.” At this year’s show, Margie will be bringing mostly animal patterns for children, as well as her new line of “atmospheric” patterns where she played with the experience of color and its relationship to a place.

Here’s one last thing about Margie that’s sure to spark inspiration for her future work: “I am a traveler at heart! I am a native English speaker, but I speak Spanish. I study Italian when I can’t sleep. I dream of swimming with whale sharks with my boys in Belize, staying in a cloud forest in Costa Rica, or visiting the puffins in Iceland!”

Marge would love to meet you at SURTEX, which is being held May 20-22 in New York! You can see her amazing work at Booth 2556.

Surtex Preview: Shannon McNab


Shannon McNab is returning to SURTEX this year and I had the wonderful opportunity to meet her this morning at the Javits Center. What I really love about her work is how warm and welcoming it is, while also being sophisticated and refined. Shannon started her career as a graphic designer in the e-commerce department at Pottery Barn. While working there, she fueled her love of surface design at night, making patterns. By 2016, she’s shifted her focus to full-time surface design.

Shannon shared: “I feel so very lucky to do what I love each and every day, and am fortunate enough to work with some wonderful brands in the crafting, greetings, gift, party paper, and fabric markets. I look forward to making connections and collaborating with new companies at this year’s show!


My designs usually start out as simple doodles in my sketchbook, which I take with me wherever I go. My favorite things to design are bold, colorful florals, hand lettering, and whimsical characters. I’ve been working especially hard on adding lots of new holiday art to my portfolio, so I have a much larger selection for buyers this year to look through. I’ve also tried to focus more on character art, as my characters got such great feedback at least year’s show.”

Shannon would love to meet you at this year’s SURTEX, which is being held May 20-22 in New York. Her work will be displayed at Booth 2524, and you can also visit her website.

Surtex Preview: With Love from Argentina


With Love from Argentina is an Argentinean illustrators collective, and we’re thrilled to feature their work in anticipation of SURTEX (which starts tomorrow!!!). Three of their members attended last year’s show, and this year twenty members will be attending—ranging from illustrators to designers to graphic designers who studied at the University of Buenos Aires. Some members of the collective have studied art, while others focused on mural art, children’s books, and lettering. Together, they are “united today to show our pattern design. A big part of us are (or have been) teachers at the University of Design of Buenos Aires and other educational places. We love what we do and want to share the world!


“As we are a big variety of designers we have all a strong personality and a particular voice that is represented on our illustrations. Techniques go from hand painting with acrylic or pencils, to paper collage or digital techniques. In our work, you will find variety of patterns and arts with different styles and themes such as geometrical, hand drawn, children, teen, festivities, floral, animals, lettering, and much more.”

This group is excited to share their art from Argentina with the world, and we’re excited to view it!

If you’re going to SURTEX this year (New York, May 20-22), make sure to stop by Booth 2557 and meet With Love from Argentina. You can also visit their website.

Surtex Preview: Tröskö Design


I am thrilled to continue our SURTEX exhibitor features by presenting the work of Solvejg Mkaretz from Tröskö Design. Her beautiful illustrations and use of space within her pattern layouts is so intriguing!

Solvejg told me a bit about her career path: “I’ve been a registered architect for more than twenty years, but have always had a passion for textiles. That passion started in my childhood which was spent in Denmark and Sweden. My grandmother taught me to knit when I was four, and since then I’ve tried almost any textile technique including lace making. I studied textile design & techniques and Fine Arts in Sweden before embarking on studies in architecture at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen, Denmark. I’ve always enjoyed sketching, painting, gluing, collaging, and such. And one of the biggest honors of my life was being a semi-finalist in a Martha Stewart competition.”

Solvejg offers a wonderful example of the diverse backgrounds and many skills that designers can have. “I do a lot of small sketches on anything at hand. Usually they are very loose and a way to capture a sudden spark of inspiration. For example—before I fall asleep or first thing in the morning when an idea pops into my head. I get a lot of inspiration from children’s books, walking in and observing nature. Visiting museums – art and otherwise – is also very inspirational, as is talking to artists of other media to gain additional perspectives on things.


“Most of my designs would be considered ‘kid friendly,’ and I love color and humor. This year I will again be represented by Nerida Hansen, both in her regular booth but also in her ‘Trend House’ booth where the designs will be sorted by Pantone ‘color stories.’”

Much has happened on Solvejg’s design career thus far. Her designs have been licensed on fabric, cards, totebags, labels, and kitchen accessories. But her sights are set on more, including the stationary and apparel markets. “I dream about seeing my designs on all kinds of products—art-licensing is definitely a competitive market. My advice to anyone pursuing that line of work would be “Don’t give up! If you have a set-back, just keep going; something else will come up!”

Make sure you stop by SURTEX (May 20-22) in New York to visit Solvejg. She’s at booth 2528. You can also check out her Instagram.

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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.