I use a range of techniques to create the elements that make up my patterns. Pencil sketches, doodles, painting, printing, markers, pastels, scraping, scattering, splattering, and photographing or scanning objects. I find that the most satisfying designs start with some kind of organic, artistic process.
My work has focused heavily on abstract textures for some time now but it feels like time for a long-overdue return to making seamless patterns. I wish I had photographs of my early pattern doodles done as a kid. There were hundreds of them but I can’t remember what became of them. I do, however, have piles of doodles from the last 10 or so years.
I’ve doodled during long journeys, I’ve doodled in cafes, I’ve doodled between calls in call centres and while pupils completed exercises when I was a TEFL teacher. About the only time I didn’t doodle was when I was a graphic designer – which is partly why I’m not any more 🙂
So many years and so many doodles yet I never really did anything with any of them. I considered training as a tattoo artist but I’m not sure I could make needles and blood my friends.
Many wise proverbs speak of doing something you love and that comes naturally to you. Check and check. Bring on the patterns.
I’ve been going through some more of my older hand drawn patterns and making vector versions of them. It is pretty time consuming but I really like the results. Here’s an example:
I love the pattern making tools in the latest version of adobe Illustrator, they make it fun to get complicated and interesting pattern repeats. I’m having a hell of a time getting the pattern tiles not to explode when the file is saved in a legacy version though. Stock agencies like Shutterstock want the file saved as an Illustrator 10 eps so it’s a problem I need to solve. I have some ideas on how to do that which will keep me busy.
I think this one will be good as a fabric pattern too so it will eventually end up on my Spoonflower collection too.
One of the fun things about deciding to go try going down the stock image route is that I can get out all the old illustration experiments I did and then discarded on my previous attempts to make a signature style. One of the problems I’ve always had is settling on one way of doing creative stuff. Now I don’t need to.
Here’s a pattern I made from a loose doodle style using watercolour and fine liners. I like the light hearted brightness of this one.
This is now for sale as a stock seamless pattern and as fabric on Spoonflower , fingers crossed other folks like it too.
One thing I’ve struggled with in recent years is the fact that I like working in different media and styles. I draw, paint, doodle, scan, retouch and vector away to my heart’s content but that doesn’t create a consistent style. Is this a problem I wonder?
I sometimes go fully old-school with acrylic paint on canvas.
One thing that has always been drummed into me is that it’s OK to have a versatility of styles as a graphic designer but not such a good idea as an illustrator. I’m considering stepping back from the process of finding a ‘signature’ style and allowing the natural variety back into my work. A lovely friend has suggest that becoming a stock illustrator / designer may be a way to accommodate this idea. The more I think about it, the more I like it. Hmmm…
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Of all the patterns I’ve drawn recently I think this one is my favourite. It’s hand-drawn and was composed as I went – no photoshop involved other than to clean up the scan. I also learned an important lesson about keeping my scanner dust-free as it took absolutely ages to clean up. I’m now the proud owner of some cleaning wipes for exactly that purpose.
I remember way back when I was doing a BTEC in Graphic design I did a project that needed a design for a Windsor and Newton Gouache box. I painstakingly painted a complicated circles pattern using said gouache. 27 years later and I’m back to drawing circles.
I was so happy with the result of that project that it was the turning point that convinced me that the graphic design option was going to work out. Which it did, for many years, until it didn’t any more. In hindsight I think it was actually the circle pattern that I was happy with, more than the graphic design elements that surrounded it.
I’m fortunate enough to have a small room set aside to work on my creative projects. Many a happy hour is spent tucked away in there with my mountains of markers, paints, pencils etc. My cat often comes to curl up on the windowsill to the left of my desk and keeps me company until she gets bored and decides I need a break. Then she’ll start stealing pens or munching on my kneecaps to make me pay attention to her. It’s more charming than it sounds.