How To Become A Successful Surface Pattern Designer

Do you dream of transforming your artistic vision into stunning surface patterns adorning products worldwide? Becoming a successful Surface Pattern Designer is an achievable goal with the right mix of creativity, dedication, and knowledge.

In this blog post, we will explore essential skillstips, and resources to help you unleash your pattern designing prowess and create a thriving career in the world of Surface Pattern Design.

Key Takeaways

  • To become a successful surface pattern designer, it is important to have a strong sense of color and design, storytelling through patterns, and proficiency in Adobe Illustrator.
  • Building an online community on social media platforms, creating a diverse and impressive portfolio that showcases your unique talents, and developing an authentic design style are essential for standing out in the industry.
  • Educational resources like online courses, workshops, blogs, and podcasts are available to help designers learn crucial skills such as repeat patterns or trademarking designs. Freelance work or licensing artist jobs can be excellent ways to start your career path as a surface pattern designer.

Understanding Surface Pattern Design

Surface pattern design is a creative field where artists and designers create visually appealing patterns for various surfaces, ranging from fabrics to home goods and stationery products.

Think of those gorgeous designs on throw pillows, table linens, area rugs, or eye-catching notebooks; these are all examples of surface pattern designs.

As an aspiring surface pattern designer seeking success in this industry, it’s essential to comprehend the entire process involved in crafting compelling designs. The initial phase entails conducting thorough research on current trends within your selected niche or product category (such as bedding or kitchenware) while also examining consumer preferences and market demands.

Armed with this knowledge, you’ll create mood boards featuring inspirational images and ideas that serve as the foundation for your artistic direction. At this point, you’ll sketch out potential design motifs by hand or digitally using software like Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop.

Developing your skills in these areas—as well as mastering crucial digital tools like Adobe Illustrator—is paramount for achieving success as a surface pattern designer who consistently delivers exceptional work that captivates clients’ attention while resonating strongly with end consumers.

Essential Skills For A Surface Pattern Designer

To become a successful surface pattern designer, mastering Adobe Illustrator is essential for creating stunning designs, along with having a strong sense of color and design to create cohesive collections that tell stories through patterns- read on to find out more tips!

Adobe Illustrator Proficiency

Adobe Illustrator proficiency is a crucial skill for aspiring surface pattern designers, as it enables them to create intricate and detailed designs with ease.

This powerful design software offers endless creative possibilities by providing numerous tools and features that streamline the design process.

To become proficient in Adobe Illustrator, beginner designers should consider enrolling in online courses like “Surface Pattern Designs from Scratch” by Bonnie Christine.

Gaining expertise in this essential software will not only make your workflow more efficient but also give you an advantage over other aspiring artists in this competitive industry.

Strong Sense Of Color And Design

strong sense of color and design is crucial for aspiring surface pattern designers, as it directly impacts the visual appeal and overall success of their creations.

Mastering color theory and understanding how various colors work together can make a significant difference in your designs. For example, knowing when to use complementary or analogous colors can create harmony within the patterns you create.

Developing an eye for design involves being aware of current trends while also staying true to your personal style.

By studying the works of successful surface pattern designers such as Bonnie Christine and Lisa Congdon, beginners can learn effective ways to combine colors and elements that evoke emotion or tell a story through their patterns.

Always be open to learning from various sources like Skillshare courses by Helen Bradbury or Maja Faber, which cover essential topics like repeat patterns and design workflows using Adobe software.

Storytelling Through Patterns

As a surface pattern designer, storytelling through patterns is an essential skill for creating a cohesive and visually appealing collection. The motifs, themes, and colors chosen for a design can tell powerful stories and evoke emotions in the viewer.

For example, using flowers in a pattern may symbolize growth and life or using geometric shapes may represent strength and stability. It’s crucial to think about the message behind each design element and how they work together to create an overall narrative.

To develop this skill, beginner designers should focus on researching different design themes and motifs that interest them personally. They should explore color palettes that evoke specific moods or feelings they want their designs to convey.

Additionally, looking at other successful surface pattern designers’ work can provide inspiration for storytelling techniques used in patterns.

Tips For Becoming A Successful Surface Pattern Designer

Practice daily, build an online community, develop your own authentic design style and create a diverse and impressive portfolio to showcase your work – these are all essential tips for becoming a successful surface pattern designer.

Practice Daily

One of the most important aspects of becoming a successful surface pattern designer is to practice daily. Aspiring designers should set aside time each day to work on their skills, whether it’s sketching ideas, experimenting with different color palettes or creating actual patterns.

In the early stages of your career, it’s important to create as many patterns as possible and build up an impressive portfolio that showcases your unique style and vision.

Don’t be afraid to draw inspiration from everyday objects or take online courses to improve your craft.

Build An Online Community

As a surface pattern designer, building an online community is crucial for success. This allows designers to showcase their work and connect with other creatives in the industry.

Social media platforms like Instagram and Pinterest are excellent tools for sharing designs, gaining followers, and networking with potential clients.

Additionally, creating a blog or website gives designers a platform to share their design process with readers while showcasing their portfolio of work. Consistently posting content related to surface pattern designing will help drive traffic to your website.

Joining online courses or memberships dedicated to surface pattern designing is another way designers can build an online community while learning new skills from industry experts.

Develop An Authentic Design Style

As a surface pattern designer, developing an authentic design style is crucial for standing out in the industry. To achieve this, begin by exploring your personal style and preferences, such as favorite color palettes or motifs that resonate with you.

Use these elements to create designs that reflect your unique perspective and artistic voice.

Additionally, research current trends in the market while staying true to your personal style. This way, you can incorporate popular themes into your work without compromising authenticity.

Remember that creating a cohesive collection of patterns with a strong storytelling element can attract clients.seeking distinctive designs.

Create A Diverse And Impressive Portfolio

Having a diverse and impressive portfolio is essential for surface pattern designers to showcase their skills and attract potential clients. Your portfolio should display your range of design styles, techniques, colors, and motifs.

Include examples from different product categories such as throw pillows, table linens, dishes, pet beds or decorative signage. A cohesive collection with a central theme can also be valuable in demonstrating storytelling through patterns.

Utilize social media platforms like Instagram or Pinterest to share your work and connect with other designers and potential clients.

Educational Resources

Explore online courses, workshops, design blogs, and podcasts to improve your surface pattern design skills; Creative Live, Skillshare, and books by Elizabeth Silver are excellent sources for learning.

Online Courses And Workshops

Online courses and workshops are a great way for aspiring surface pattern designers to gain the necessary skills and knowledge to succeed in their creative careers. Here are some of the best options available:

  1. “Design Surface Patterns from Scratch” by Bonnie Christine – This highly recommended course covers everything from creating sketches to trademarking designs.
  2. “Become a Working Artist” by Lisa Congdon – With a 100% recommendation rate, this course is perfect for beginners looking to turn their passion into a successful career.
  3. Skillshare – With over 31,000 courses on art and design topics, including surface design, Skillshare offers numerous options for learning at all levels.
  4. Illustrator courses by Helen Bradbury – Beginner-friendly classes with time-saving tips and tricks.
  5. Maja Faber’s classes – Covers repeat patterns, design workflow, and Adobe software.
  6. Barbel Dressler’s classes – Provides unique insights into historical pattern styles.
  7. “NOW WHAT?” series by Samantha Wilson – Offers guidance on monetizing artwork and surface design creations.
  8. “PATTERN IT UP” course by Oksana – Streamlined system for creating repeating pattern collections for Microstock and Print on Demand websites.

By taking advantage of these online resources, beginner designers can refine their skills, build their portfolios, and create successful careers in the creative industry.

Books And EBooks

There are several books and eBooks that can be helpful for aspiring surface pattern designers. Here are some recommendations:

  1. “Pattern Design: A Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners” by Elizabeth Silver – This book provides a comprehensive guide on how to create patterns from scratch, covering everything from design elements to color palettes.
  2. “The Surface Pattern Designer’s Handbook” by Kim Kight – This eBook offers practical advice on how to build a successful career as a surface pattern designer, including tips on portfolio building and marketing oneself.
  3. “Designing Patterns: A Fresh Approach to Pattern Cutting” by Hilary Campbell – This book focuses specifically on the technical aspects of pattern design, providing guidance on how to create seamless repeating patterns using Adobe Illustrator.
  4. “Pattern Design Secrets: The Complete Guide to Creating Beautiful Patterns” by Lisa Congdon – This eBook includes insights and tips from some of the most successful surface pattern designers in the industry, along with practical guidance on everything from ideation to execution.
  5. “Surface Pattern Design: A Guide for Aspiring Artists” by Anne LaFollette – This book provides an overview of the surface pattern design industry, along with practical advice on how to get started and build a successful career.

By reading these books and eBooks, beginner designers can gain insight into the technical and creative aspects of surface pattern design as well as learn valuable skills for building their careers.

Design Blogs And Podcasts

There are many design blogs and podcasts that can be great resources for aspiring surface pattern designers. Here are some top picks to check out:

  1. Pattern Observer – a blog and podcast run by surface pattern designer Michelle Fifis that offers insights into the industry, interviews with successful designers, and helpful tips for improving one’s craft.
  2. Make it in Design – a website with an accompanying blog that provides courses on surface pattern design as well as informative posts on topics like licensing and portfolio building.
  3. The Textile Design Lab – a membership-based community run by Bonnie Christine that includes access to courses, critiques, and networking opportunities.
  4. Creative Pep Talk – a podcast hosted by illustrator Andy J Pizza that focuses on creativity, motivation, and entrepreneurship.
  5. Adobe Live – live-streamed sessions on Adobe software featuring expert guests in the field of design, including surface pattern design.

By regularly following these blogs and podcasts, beginner designers can stay up-to-date on industry trends while also gaining valuable advice from experienced professionals in the field.

Career Opportunities In Surface Pattern Design

Surface pattern designers can work as freelancers, in-house designers, or licensing artists for products like greeting cards, notebooks, water bottles and bedding. They can also create designs for home goods retailers like Anthropologie or Paper Source.

Freelance Designer

As a surface pattern designer, there are several career paths to consider. One option is working as a freelance designer, which allows for more flexibility and control over the design process.

Freelance designers often work with clients on specific projects, such as designing patterns for fabric or creating graphics for product packaging.

Building a diverse and impressive portfolio can help attract potential clients, whether through online platforms like Behance or personal website portfolios.

Additionally, joining networking groups or organizations within the industry can create opportunities for new collaborations and foster relationships with art directors and manufacturers seeking new designs.

In-house Designer

Another career opportunity for surface pattern designers is working as an in-house designer. This means being employed by a company to design patterns and products exclusively for their brand.

In-house designers have the advantage of steady income and consistent clients, but they may also face limitations on creative freedom.

To become an in-house designer, it’s important to research companies that align with your interests and style. Networking at events or through social media can also lead to opportunities.

Additionally, creating a strong portfolio showcasing your distinct design aesthetic and attention to detail can help you stand out during job applications and interviews.

Licensing Artist

Licensing is a major category for earning money in surface pattern design. As a licensing artist, you can create patterns that manufacturers and companies use on their products, such as home decor, apparel, or stationery.

Instead of selling your designs outright, you retain the rights to them and earn royalties each time they are used. Licensed designers typically earn between 3% – 8% of retail or wholesale sales.

For example, designer Elizabeth Silver has licensed her work to companies like Paper Source, Children’s Place, and Anthropologie. Licensing can offer a steady stream of income without requiring large upfront investments in materials and manufacturing costs.


Becoming a surface pattern designer takes time, effort, and dedication. It involves acquiring essential skills like proficiency in Adobe Illustratordeveloping an authentic design style, and storytelling through patterns.

To become successful in this creative career field, one must practice daily and create diverse portfolios that highlight their unique talents.

Freelance design work or in-house designing can be a good way to start your career path as a surface pattern designer.

With determination and hard work along with support from the right communities such as Creative Live’s Pattern Design Club or The Pattern Design Academy membership program, aspiring designers can make their dreams come true!


1. What skills do I need to become a surface pattern designer?

To become a surface pattern designer, you should have a strong sense of color, form and composition. You also need to be skilled in software programs such as Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop, as well as have the ability to create both digital and hand-drawn designs.

2. What education is required to pursue this career?

While there isn’t one specific educational path for becoming a surface pattern designer, most individuals in this field possess at least a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts or Graphic Design. Some may even hold advanced degrees related to the design industry.

3. How can I build my portfolio when entering the field of surface pattern design?

Building your portfolio requires time and effort dedicated towards creating original designs that showcase your skillsets & creative vision.You could work on freelance projects for clients looking for unique patterns/designs or create mock-up projects that demonstrate range of creativity with styles/materials while adding some personal touches which reflect your personality successfully.

4. How can I network within the industry to find employment opportunities?

Networking with others who are already working in the industry by attending conferences, participating in online forums about textile/fashion designor through social networking sites like LinkedIn/Instagram/JobsbyGlassdoor will help you connect with people who are likely more experienced, knowledgeable resources capable offering guidance support along way.What’s more – these networks often lead directly into new job openings and/or collaborations amongst fellow designers/businesses seeking fresh ideas from emerging talents eager contribute their own perspectives turning visions reality!

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1. “Unlock Your Inner Creativity: The Ultimate Guide to Becoming a Surface Pattern Designer”

2. “From Sketches to Success: How To Build A Career in Surface Pattern Design”

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4. “The Art of Patterns: Learn How to Turn Your Passion for Design into Profit”

5. “Turn Your Doodles into Dollars: Become A Master in the Field of Surface Pattern Design”

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