Surtex Preview: Sarah English


Sarah English is an example of someone who has known what she wanted from an early age on! Her entire background is in art.

Sarah shared: “My mom will tell you that when I was three, I use to run around the house screaming, ‘I’m going to be an artist!’ I guess if you scream it loud enough – and for long enough – you can make it happen.” Since then, Sarah has received an MFA in Painting from the University of North Texas, taught college for a few years, and started doing Textile Design on the side. Now she is a full-time Textile Designer in corporate fashion retail.

When asked about her transition to full-time textile design, Sarah said: “I moved from curating gallery shows to curating print collections! I moved up the ladder and was managing a team that focused on Textile Design for Juniors fashion. I really enjoyed my work, my team, and continuously learning so much about the industry. Still, the artist in me was still starving for my own original work and that’s why I started Pattern State on the side as an outlet for doing more creative work at night. Then in 2017, I left my ten-year retail career to dive into Pattern State full time.” How many of us dream of doing just what Sarah did? Since that time, she has learned a lot, adding “to say I never looked back wouldn’t be totally honest. It’s been a year full of challenges and mistakes and I’ve second-guessed myself along the way. Still, I wouldn’t change my decision! I’ve had the ability to say ‘yes’ to new opportunities, the flexibility to chose my work, and the openness to stretch myself creatively.


“It’s important to me that Pattern State prints feel that they came from an artist’s hand. I love to draw and paint on paper but these days I need to work smarter, which means I’m often drawing on my iPad. The work I shared has that illustrative quality. The wallpaper design was inspired by my idea of a Texas botanical print…bluebonnets, lantana, daffodils, and thistles. I like to throw in some fun where I can. That’s when you’ll find the rabbits, fox, and squirrels included from the Texas fields. I also like thinking about what makes us wonder and reminds us that magic is possible—which is why you’ll find elements like unicorns and UFOs in my work, mingling alongside Bigfoot and a Jackalope. I also included some studio shots and images of some of the prints in product form.”

With all of Sarah’s experience, I asked her to share about an experience that stands out that challenged her and help her grow as a designer. She shared this moment with me: “I remember the first time I saw a repeating pattern. I got a job at a small manufacturer that was looking for people who could draw and knew Photoshop. My first boss showed me a repeating pattern during the interview. My mind exploded on the spot, seeing how exciting the surface design world was. I love that the possibilities for what your art can be are so open and ever changing. A print has the power to transform any object. For me, it’s art in repeat and total magic.”


This year Sarah is going to be at SURTEX with representation from Nerida Hansen. This is an exciting opportunity, as Nerida has assembled an amazing group of artists she calls the Surtex Super Group. Sara adds, “In my mind I feel like we’re all super hero designers and should be wearing patterned capes. And that makes me feel pretty cool!”

See Sarah’s work at this year’s SURTEX, which is being held May 20-22 in New York! She’ll be at Booth 2528. You can also visit her website or Instagram.


Surtex Preview: Donna Skupien


Before changing career courses, Donna Skupien owned a full service marketing communications firm with a global client base. Today, she communicates through her creative work and her focus on print/color trends and product development is inspiring. She uses her skills for the home, fashion, and paper industries.

Donna owns Bridgewater + Moss Design. This is how she describes her business: “We are a full service design firm with over 25 years experience in trend forward surface design development for fashion, home, tabletop, contract, active sports, seasonal, and paper—creating exclusive designs for manufacturers and retailers.

“Our company is based on the belief that our customers’ needs are of the utmost importance and our entire team is committed to meeting those needs. As a result, a high percentage of our business is from repeat customers and referrals.”


Donna is personally drawn to simple, clean prints, but designers are always inspired to offer their take on new looks and trends. What better place to do that than SURTEX! This year the featured work will be more “dreamy,” through the use of watercolor, which creates a new feeling to established print motifs. Donna adds: “I am also showing Black and White, textures, tropical, geos, and holiday.” This sounds great, as this year is special for Donna—it is her 25th year of exhibiting at SURTEX/Atelier!

You’re invited to visit Donna at SURTEX 2018 (May 20-22 in New York). She’d love to meet you and she is at Booth 2829. Also, visit her website.

Surtex Preview: Monika Suska


Monika Suska has an inspiring story. She’s been a professional illustrator for over 11 years and works primarily in the children’s publishing market and has illustrated over 40 picture books, as well as games, apps, and educational materials. But she grew interested in product design and says, “Creation art for products is a fairly new adventure for me but I love it! My head is constantly bubbling with new ideas and I like trying new things so my portfolio shows a variety of styles.”

I asked Mary about the inspiration for two of her collections that have gained quite a bit of popularity. The first is Oaxaca Desert. She describes this collection as “my beloved project loosely inspired by Mexican folk art, especially by Alebrijes; sculptures of fantastical creatures, painted in bright colors and intricate patterns originated from the state of Oaxaca. Since this is seen through my personal lens, you can find many other motifs and inspirations hidden in the patterns.” Monika loves the energy of multicultural places, where many traditions coexist happily and sees how any fusion or merger is possible. That’s how she likes to create her art, and she does a wonderful job.


Her other collection, Born to Meow, is a “cute take on old school style tattoos.” Monika says, “My work is heavy on lovable and sometimes a little bit quirky with its characters and vibrant colors. It has a modern feel and it speaks both to kids and adults.”

This year at SURTEX, Monika will be showing some holiday collections for the VERY first time, as well as a trove of other exciting pieces.

Monika would love to meet you at SURTEX. Remember, it’s being held May 20-22 in New York, and she will be at Booth 2550. Also, visit her website or her Instagram.

Surtex Preview: Mary Edwards


One of the wonderful things about my line of work is getting to see so many creative people’s work. I had the opportunity to meet Mary Edwards a few months ago, and I fell in love with the stories that her work tells and her detailed illustration style. Her skills as an artist and interior designer complement each other so well.

Mary holds both BFA and Interior Architecture degrees. She has also worked at several firms and has taught Textiles at the Academy of Art College. Over the years, Mary has created hundreds of projects, ranging from homes to a Tuscan villa to Space Station interiors for NASA!

When I look at Mary’s work I see how her hand-drawn art integrates the energy of the outdoors with a positive spirit that reflect decades of world travel and a love for her exposure to nature, culture, and community. This evident passion for creating a comfortable and stylish sense of place has led her to start offering her designs for licensing and collaboration.


Mary lives in San Francisco near her two grown kids and enjoys doing anything anywhere outdoors, especially on, in, or near any body of water.

This year at SURTEX, Mary will be presenting a variety of images, patterns, and designs that can be licensed for any interior product or paper use. Visit Mary at SURTEX, which is being held May 20-22 in New York! You can see her amazing work at Booth 2547 and also visit her website.

Surtex Preview: Danielle Murray


Danielle Murray is a traditional oil painter who received a BFA in Illustration from The University of the Arts in Philadelphia. Like many who first graduate from these programs, Danielle went to work in the editorial and book markets. It wasn’t until a few years later that she saw the opportunity of merging her artistic talents to products.

When I asked Danielle about how this came about, she said, “I got a job working as a Product Designer for Christmas Tree Shops (part of the Bed Bath & Beyond family), and I learned about surface design and creating artwork for product. Since then, I have gone out on my own and have had the wonderful opportunity of seeing my artwork in all kinds of stores and on all kinds of products.”


There are many things that inspire Danielle, including an affinity for times past and the sea. She said, “It is always a fun challenge to try and pair this with the trends that are happening in the marketplace. My dog and cat designs are an example of taking a popular subject matter and placing them into ‘my world’.” In the future, Danielle hopes to paint seascapes and nautical artwork, as she would love to see some of those designs on products.

However, this year at SURTEX, Danielle will be bringing new Christmas artwork and more pet artwork—which has done very well for her. She also has new floral and nautical designs and product samples from a licensing deal she received at last year’s show!

Stop by and meet Danielle is at this year’s SURTEX in New York, May 20-22. You can see her amazing work at booth #2642. Also, check out her website.

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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.