Highlights From Our “Storytelling” Design Challenge

Alexandra_Michiardi_StorytellingChelsea’s Challenge is a monthly post series in the Textile Design Lab, in which we share trends and inspiration to help our members develop pattern collections for their portfolios. Last month our theme was “Storytelling”, inspired by one of our wonderful guest experts, Maria Ogedengbe, and the idea of telling our family story, or the story of our community through motifs and patterns. This theme really struck a chord with our members and the results were so stunning that we just had to share! Please enjoy this sampling of the beautiful collections that were created:


Alexandra Michiardi

“This collection was inspired by the sunny Spain of my grandma (and called Antonia after her), who crossed the Pyrenees by foot and illegally to go and marry my grandpa in France.

It’s about my Spanish heritage and my French roots, celebrating a rich cultural background mixing symbols and colours related to both countries and my family story.

I designed this collection with the home décor market in mind for women who love bold and graphic prints, Spanish folklore (like flamenco) and love art (specially Matisse and Miró). And it all started as a cut and paste, and stamping session with craft foam!”

See more from Alexandra on Instagram @tristanetzoe.




Cynthia Jacquette


“My collection is inspired by the visual motifs of my lost Polish ancestry. As I started the visual research for my initial idea—to weave together motifs from my backgrounds of French, German Italian and Polish—I realized I had no familiarity of the rich Polish visual history, just as I have the least information about that part of my lineage. So, I went on a quest not to tell a story, but in search of a lost one, piecing together watercolor and marker studies of Polish-inspired icons. I combined them in a way that is imperfect and not quite symmetrical, similar to a story that has missing pieces. I imagined my collection for the home decor market.”
Find Cynthia online at www.cynthiajacquette.com, on Instagram or Facebook.


Cindi Goguen


“The theme for this collection began from an old treasured family photo of my great-great-grandmother with her family in Calabria, Italy. Some of the supporting designs were inspired by fabrics used to make their clothing.  During my research of Calabria, I discovered the annual spring flower festivals which led me to the inspiration for the main pattern. For this collection my design process started out on the iPad where I sketched my flower motifs then imported them into Illustrator to color and design each pattern, after which the final designs were copied into Photoshop to add the blends and textures.   My vision was to create a fun, youthful, and colorful collection for the younger quilter with a touch of vintage; combining the past with the present.”


Sonya Percival



“My Sirin collection was largely inspired by the rich tradition of Russian arts and crafts, folk painting, and block printing.

I used these influences such as a Sirin bird motif, florals, and geometry to create a hand-printed, folk style feel. My workflow always includes watercolor and often ink to paint and refine the initial elements. Later I define original designs in Photoshop and them put them in repeat. This collection is intended for home décor market; creating it I sought to invoke the feelings of coziness, warmth, and the joy of recognizing the familiar in old traditional themes.”
See more from Sonya at http://www.sonyapercival.com/ and on Instagram.


Renea Lynzee Design

“Sweet Home Chicago” collection was inspired by memories I have made in my home town as a child and adult.

I experimented with the shapes and lines in Chicago’s architecture and created my looks with Adobe Capture and Illustrator with the apparel market in mind.”

To see more, visit Renea’s portfolio site or check her out on Instagram or Facebook.


Curious to know more about what it’s like to be a Textile Design Lab member? Click here learn more about the Lab and access some of our favorite resources – for free.

Repeat Downbeat: Pinks and Blacks

(L) Mixed Media piece by Michelle Burns (R) Pattern by @sweetandloshop

(L) Mixed Media piece by Michelle Burns (R) Pattern by @sweetandloshop

This week’s Repeat Downbeat features some of my favorite inspirational finds from our #patternobserver Instagram feed. I was really drawn to the color contrast between the tranquil, sensitive peachy pinks and the strong, sophisticated blacks and grays that you see in the images posted below.

This stunning monoprint was created by Mixed Media Artist, Michelle Burns. I love the delicate layers and texture that is used throughout the piece. The placement of the semicircle shapes also brings such a nice flow to the layout. Michelle posted this quote alongside the print, “Wherever you stand, be the soul of that place. ~ Rumi.” You can see more of Michelle’s beautiful, textures, paintings and prints on her Instagram account.

I didn’t realize how much I love adding dots to everything that I create until my daughter Ruth started adding dots to all of her artwork. It was then that I began to see the similarities between our work. It seems that @sweetandloshop also feels a similar affection for the beloved dot when you look at this beautiful pattern she painted. I love the variation in the details of the motifs paired with this more simplistic and classic layout style. I encourage you to check out her Instagram feed for more nature inspired goodness.

(L) Floral by Stephanie Ryan (R) Stripes by Dagmar Höffken

(L) Floral by Stephanie Ryan (R) Stripes by Dagmar Höffken

I mean….come on, how gorgeous is this floral pattern from Stephanie Ryan of @petalandlight? I just want to escape into all the delicate layers of watercolor texture. Stephanie is an artist and intuitive painter living in Chester County, PA. Four of her patterns were just released on tumblers by May Designs and it is a beautiful collaboration. Check out more of her beautiful florals @petalandlight.

This beautiful watercolor plaid immediately jumped out at me. This moody piece was created by Dagmar Höffken and I am really drawn to the various layers and line weight that she used. Similar to the floral by Stephanie Ryan, I want to dive in and explore all the details and variations included. You can see more of Dagmar’s beautiful line work and florals on her Instagram account, @dasign_7.

There is inspiration for designers everywhere you choose to look. However, it isn’t possible to be productive, learn, and grow as a designer if all you do is research online. You actually have to “do” in order to find the success and joy you’re capable of in this industry. This is a part of the heart and soul of the Textile Design Lab community. It’s a home where designers can take courses and learn invaluable tips to help them in their career, plus grow in skills and confidence from the supportive community that makes the Lab such a special place.

Get more information on the Lab and access a few of our favorite resources – for free!

Searching for the “right” way


When I share with you that there is an abundance of information in this industry, I am sure you’re not surprised. It’s everywhere and if you like to explore your craft (like me), you quickly realize just how much is out there. It seems like everyone is sharing their techniques, their experiences, and their methodology at a rapid rate. Why is this happening?

I believe there a few reasons why technology has opened up an exciting new opportunity for us in the design industry. For starters, it has become so easy to share information now. You can share something with an individual or the public in a matter of seconds. The more we become accustom to this, the more we appreciate the ability to immediately share something. And when you are mindful of what’s helpful about this, it can really help your design career skills and ability to connect with potential clients.

Another benefit of technology is that it does feel good to share your wisdom. When you offer and share your experiences with others it is often with the hope of helping another person in some way. To be able to inspire someone or help someone achieve a goal feels wonderful. Personally, I innately crave this feeling and I believe that many others do, as well.

But what I am seeing in our industry is that as many designers watch tutorials, take courses, and listen to podcasts they are feeling more pressure with their work, than inspiration. They feel like they must design in a certain style or market their work in a way that is neither comfortable nor authentic to whom they are. Often those techniques and tips that are shared are amazing, but there is no system or process for helping designers to explore how to apply the technique or process to their own style. There is no feedback, support, or guidance. So, what do you do?

While some designers are fine working without feedback and can easily see how to make newly learned techniques their own, others feel overwhelmed, uninspired, and begin questioning their place in the industry. This is not okay!

We are not in a one-size-fits-all industry. There isn’t one way to create, sell, or market your work. Just because a technique works for one designer doesn’t mean that it is going to work for your business. There absolutely is not just one “right” way.

Yes, there are tracks and programs and recommendations that are going to work for many, but one system is not always going to work for everyone and it is frustrating for me to see designers feel like they will never be a part of this industry if they don’t fit perfectly within one of our pre-designed boxes.

One way that we are working to stop this from happening in the Textile Design Lab is by building a diverse team of experts who offer personalized feedback and advice to our members. When I started the Lab a few years ago, Chelsea and I were the only team members providing support and feedback through our private forums and live chats.

While I love doing this work, I quickly realized the wide number of areas of the industry that I was not an expert in. Have a question about activewear or the fashion industry? I’m your gal. Have a question about wallpaper? Well, there are other experts who are better suited to advise you in that market.

Recognizing this as an opportunity to help everyone and not a hindrance is something that I am extremely proud. Now, the Textile Design Lab consists of a team of experts that all bring different strengths and areas of expertise to the Lab. This experience comes from different markets, geographic locations, and business models, and in most cases we are able to help our members figure out the best way to apply our courses and methods to their individual styles.

In a world saturated with information, personalized feedback and recommendations have become even more important.

Like many other platforms out there in the market, the Textile Design Lab has countless tutorials. But where we differ, and why our members get such great results, is that we help our members to figure out the best techniques and systems for their individual artistic style and personality. This brings a more energized environment to the lab and has lead to many exciting goals being recognized for our members!

Curious to know what it is like to be a part of the Lab? Sign up to receive more information about joining the Lab and access some of our favorite resources – for free.

Featured Designer: Anne Marie Jackson

Anne Marie Jackson Textile Design PEDENMUNK copy copy

This week’s featured designer is Anne Marie Jackson, a British textile designer and trend forecaster working in Seattle. With 15 years of experience under her belt, Anne Marie has developed a stunningly beautiful signature style and has worked “both freelance and corporate design jobs from runway to mass-market.” Anne Marie’s talents for hand-painted florals and foliage seem to know no bounds, and I think her design ethos says it all when she says,

“I believe all surfaces need a print! Color and print is typically what draws the customer’s attention and has the ability to elicit an emotional response from them and I love that I get to do that across a myriad of products.”

Anne Marie Jackson Textile Design Hawaii Sketchbook copy

“I tend to think of myself as a “surface design shape-shifter”, in that I’m flexible to meet the needs of the customer/client, but I always prefer to create hand rendered art. I truly believe that starting from original hand-drawn elements, produces art that is more authentic and that the customer can see and feel the “finger print” of the artist in it. In my experience, clients gravitate to such art, because of its emotional quality, and the way it connects people to story.

I would say that “story” and creating such connections are my “why”. That desire to tell stories, stems from a summer job—during my time as a student—where I was a tour guide at Althorp House (Princess Diana’s childhood home). In that role, I loved bringing the art to life, by connecting the visual art with the context of its history to the various visitors of Althorp. To this day, I still love to captivate an audience with the stories and process of art. One of my most favorite things to do, is live art for my clients on their shop floor. I guess my splashing around with paints draws an audience in and can initiate more memorable connections and meaningful conversations.”

Anne Marie Jackson Textile Design Java copy

“I like to take my time crafting prints. Using many hand drawn motifs. I particularly love working in vibrant watercolor inks and using my faithful nib pen. I have a love affair with color and Hawaii as I have spent most of my life in jolly old cold England and the notoriously rainy city of Seattle. Creating tropical prints transports me to my happy place.

As well as being a textile designer I am a Mummy to 2 bubbly bear cubs. We are also a foster family and have had 4 little girls in our home over the past 12 months. As a result, most recently I have been using my art to bring awareness to the 400,000+ kids we have in the foster care system here in the United States on any given day. I ultimately dream of launching a brand that can be a profit for purpose brand to help provide therapy and comfort for foster kids that have experienced trauma. Art is one of the ways we can heal our world and design does matter.”

You can learn more about Anne Marie at her website http://annemariejackson.com/

Repeat Downbeat: Winter Warmth

(L) Affra Gibbs (R) Jo Faulkner

(L) Affra Gibbs (R) Jo Faulkner

Happy New Year! I am so excited to kick off our first Repeat Downbeat of the New Year and share some of the most inspiring finds in our #patternobserver feed. It’s been icy cold here in Asheville, which might explain why I was drawn to all the warm colors that you see below.

First up is this beautiful piece by Affra Gibbs. Affra is one of my favorite Instagram follows. Her work is active and dynamic—I just love her energy. She is always creating something spectacular. From florals to dog portraits to custom home projects—Affra keeps painting and painting, and I love it all. I was really drawn to the movement in this piece and all the layers of paint and line work. This is something that I have been experimenting with in my own work and it was lovely to see this in our feed!

The layering of details in such a cozy color palette is also what drew me to this painting by Jo Faulkner. Jo is an artist and textile designer out of Philadelphia. She has a stunning, beautiful, and consistent style that I adore. It has a vintage feel to it, while also somehow feeling very modern and contemporary. If you need an escape I encourage you to take a moment to check out her beautiful Instagram feed. You’ll leave ready to pick up a paint brush and start playing.

(L) Veronica Salvioni (R) This Little Street

(L) Veronica Salvioni (R) This Little Street

Want to see an example of a really strong pattern? Check out this design by Veronica Salvioni. Veronica is an Italian surface pattern designer and illustrator based in a town just outside of Milan. This pattern was created for Spoonflower’s recent design challenge. The details in the flowers are perfectly placed. If you look, you can also see how there are enough details that they add a great deal of excitement and visual interest to the design. However, there are not so many details that the motifs become too heavy and overwhelmed. From my perspective, what makes this design so spectacular is the addition of the background geometric pattern. It’s such a wonderful compliment to the foreground florals, which have a strong movement and flow.

Last but not least, this beautiful collection from This Little Street immediately caught my eye. This Little Street was started by Audrey Smit, who lives in Berkeley, CA with her husband and four adventurous little girls. Audrey has been designing and selling prints, fabrics, and wallpapers from her website, but she recently added a new kids clothing collection which launched yesterday! I cannot imagine the amount of time, dedication, and investment that it would take to start a clothing line, so my hat is off to Audrey. This is a huge achievement and I found it to be incredibly inspiring to read about the project on her Instagram account.

Thanks to all who shared their work to our #patternobserver feed this past week. I look forward to seeing more of your wonderful work and sharing it with our community.

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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.