If you've ever been curious about how I design the patterns for our products, today is your lucky day!
I've been a self-proclaimed artist since early childhood. I've always loved to draw and paint and make things with my hands, so it seems natural that I would have started a creative business--admittedly after a winding path through a different creative career as an architect.
Several years back, I figured out how to have my artwork printed onto textiles and became obsessed with creating fabric collections. I still am! All of the printed fabrics we currently carry are digitally printed by a company called Spoonflower that offers on-demand textile printing (occasionally we source fabrics from other printers, but so far Spoonflower is the most predictable and consistent product and we love their eco-friendly practices)!
Let's get started!
Conceptualizing and painting the artwork
I always start new projects with a spark of inspiration around a color palette or motif (usually something abstract or floral). I usually limit myself to two or three colors in the beginning to keep things simple. I'll spend a little time each day over the course of a couple of weeks loosely and quickly getting my ideas onto canvas or paper with gouache and acrylic paints. I also pepper in pen and ink sketches from time to time, but painting feels the most fluid for me. I like to keep it low-pressure in the start--it's so easy to put too much expectation on the work and end up disappointed. Most of the time, the work evolves into something I hadn't quite expected, but end up falling in love with.
Finalizing the design
When I'm painting, certain pieces emerge that make me feel like "This is it!", so I'll continue to develop those pieces. By then, the composition starts to come together and I start painting the pieces that I'll eventually manipulate digitally to create a repeating pattern. I like to sit with the designs for a bit, so I'll pin them on my inspiration board in my studio so I can see them everyday and visualize how they will look on product. I also like to see them with the other colors and patterns in my collections so I can try to keep the collection cohesive as I add new designs.
Digitizing the design and creating the pattern
Once I have a composition that I am starting to love, I'll photograph the individual paintings with my DSLR camera (I like this method much better than scanning the images). I'll open the artwork in Adobe Photoshop to do any color correcting and erase blemishes, then I'll bring the image into Adobe Illustrator to convert the artwork to a vector file. This allows me to change the scale of the work without losing any of the image quality. Click here to see a quick video of that process!
I'll separate each of the composition elements and start rearranging everything in a way that allows for a more seamless repeating pattern.
Illustrator has an amazing pattern-making tool that allows me to quickly create a repeating pattern file. I can alternate between the pattern tool and manual repositioning of elements until I get a clean, seamless repeating pattern.
Testing the pattern
Back in Photoshop, I'll create an extra large blank canvas file that I will repeat the pattern tile in several times to make sure that the edges line up properly and that nothing weird is happening with the file.
I'll also do product mockups in Photoshop. I have "blank" product images (mockups of each product with blank canvas) that I can overlay patterns on to see how they will look in real life. I also use this process to determine the best scale of the pattern.
Creating the fabric (yay!)
Now that I am happy with the pattern file, it's time to have samples printed. I upload the pattern to Spoonflower and pick my base fabric. I'll usually order a yard or a fat quarter--something large enough to create samples of the products.
It takes anywhere from a few days to a week and a half to get the fabric samples in and I inspect everything closely to make sure the colors are what I envisioned and the pattern lines up properly (if the pattern is not properly created, there can be faint lines where the edges line up). If I need to make changes, I'll head back over to Photoshop to update the file. If all looks good, I'll place a larger fabric order and start making the goods!
Shop this pattern on our products!
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