In last week’s newsletter I asked readers to tell me what they hope to accomplish within the first 12 weeks of 2017. It was wonderful to read the responses and to learn more about our amazing community.
And…the responses inspired me to learn even more! To do that, I’ve created our 2016 Reader Survey.
If you could take just 5 minutes to tell me what is the single biggest challenge when it comes to designing patterns I’ll be able to use that information to tailor our upcoming blog posts and newsletters towards topics that you want to know more about.
The survey is completely anonymous and I would greatly appreciate your participation.
Click here to participate!
Looking out my window with a cover of fresh snow on the ground, these beautifully moody digital florals by Suzie Pan feel like the perfect way to kick off December! Suzie is a world traveler and a passionate designer and we are delighted to welcome her to the blog!
Suzie writes,“this was a special collection for me, which was inspired by Rimpa, one of the major historical schools of Japanese painting. The interesting thing is without painting or drawing, in the end the result I even surprised myself. Many friends told me they felt those prints look like real paintings. I did this collection in Northern Thailand (Chiangdao- The City of Stars) in September this year. So I have to say, nature has given me endless energy and inspirations.”
“Here comes my story with print designs: One day nearly Christmas time in Addis Ababa, two of my close friends came to me and both of them mentioned the same words “textile design.” Then like a flash of light, suddenly I knew what I was searching for all these years: I don’t like the pattern cutting part of fashion design; I am good at PR, marketing, even business management, but I felt I could build something more than that. I do really love prints and fabrics–all the shapes, materials, details, culture, and colors. And from that day, I started to know there is a job called textile designer in this world. Then I found Pattern Observer and read all the blogs one by one. After that, I joined the Textile Design Lab and other sources, then I started a self educated journey since then. Michelle, Chelsea and their whole team has taught me a lot during this wonderful journey. Then I left Africa and started living and traveling around South East Asia. I kept studying art and painting, and also textile design during this one year. And one day, Chelsea saw my work, and she told me it’s beautiful and they are going to feature me on Pattern Observer, I felt so excited. It’s like a milestone for me. I knew nothing about this industry one year ago…And now I even know myself (soul- the real me better), I felt I do really have a deep connection with Oriental art, especially historical Japanese art. I might not be meant to be a great print designer, but this trial and error journey brings me to a border space of beauty. Where my soul starts to breathe and shine without any doubts.”
We asked Suzie if she has any words of advice for those just starting out on their textile journey, and she replied, “I think most things in life are trial and error. Even if we have already a clear vision and easy imagination in our life, we still have to try everything in order to find the right path to reach our own vision and our own imagination. So, be patient and everything will come out eventually.”
You can learn more about Suzie’s work at http://suziepanprints.wixsite.com/portfolio or www.suziepanprints.com, or reach out to her directly at email@example.com. Have a great weekend, everyone! -Chelsea
Carolyn Rebuffel of WorkRoom C
, is an interior designer and textile designer based in the San Francisco Bay Area who turned to textile design out of necessity:
“WorkRoom C started when I was on the quest for the perfect shade of navy and couldn’t find it, and realized that I could just make it myself. Growing up, I’ve always noticed that I see color variations more distinctly than others—what may look like white to some looks like a light blue tone to me. After getting enough funny looks from clients and colleagues, I realized that I saw colors differently and this impacted my approach to design. WorkRoom C is the result of my search for the perfect shade of each color in the rainbow. I began my offering with four different shades of each of the seven colors, but eventually narrowed the collection down to 20 as sampling nearly 30 colors made the production process never-ending. Each pattern is named after a daughter in my life—I have an amazing team of creative people around me and our daughters provide daily inspiration. I often start with sketching patterns or with an inspiring shape and we work with digital printing so patterns are fully developed in Illustrator. I am fascinated by developing a repeat and how patterns can come from mirror-imaging interesting shapes—how something so simple can become something so intricate.”
“I grew up in Santa Cruz and studied Art History at UC Santa Barbara. I had an antique business for about 10 years in San Francisco and then moved into interior design full-time and have been happily putting interiors together for the last ten years. Five years ago, I took some time off and was playing with pattern and sketches and put together an initial set of patterns and colors, turning them into my first line of fabrics. Developing patterns is a pure creative outlet for me and the most relaxing part of my business. My perception of color is a big part of my design identity and fabric collection. As a child, my mother wanted me to design my room in pink, and I immediately gravitated towards light and navy blue. This was not the norm at the time, and the experience influenced the way I’ve thought about color ever since. To this day, I gravitate towards blue, and never get sick of an endless combination of different colors with blues. I’ve found that color is very personal and at times triggers a visceral reaction. As much as I love using pink now as a designer, I am not as comfortable using red or purple.”
“I’ve always been drawn to ancient tiles–Moroccan, Persian, and Delft patterns—and have seen this inspiration come through in my designs. When creating a new fabric, I always try to balance old and new for something that feels truly fresh. For example, I love the vintage feel of ticking but struggled to find it in a wide range of colors. Thus, I developed a ticking pattern for my collection available in multiple colorways. I love having a line of patterns, each available in so many colors and also the possibility to customize patterns and colors for clients. I dream about having a small studio/store where I can design for clients and show off the fabrics in a colorful way on a larger scale. When all the kids are in college (two are there and two are graduating high school next year), I can work on making this dream a reality. A major inspiration behind the collection is my own daughter, Chloe, who I spent time with while developing WorkRoom C. There are two patterns named after her—her namesake polka dot and my most recent addition, Isabel, which is Chloe’s middle name. Although she’s not interested in pursuing a career in interior or textile design, I’ve created a brand that unites our sensibilities and initials, so that if she did choose to pursue it, she could carry on the legacy.”
Learn more at carolynrebuffel.com. Have a great weekend, everyone!
*Guest post by Esther Shavon of E’FLOMAE.
In August 2016 I debuted my trade show experience at Printsource New York through my print studio E’FLOMAE. Since then I have gotten several similar questions regarding my experience from the perspective of how to approach and make lasting contacts. In this post, I will share my thoughts and tips in attempts to quell some of that nervous energy of potential first time exhibitors.
What is Printsource? Is the staff responsive? How do you get your displays to and from the show?
Printsource is a premier textile design trade show with two major shows in January and August. The show is a two day event held in an open floor space environment at the metropolitan pavilion in New York.
Logistics wise, the staff was really responsive from leadership to admin staff down to the official shipping and suppliers. For a reasonable fee, you can ship supplies to a designated warehouse prior to the show and your items will be delivered at your booth waiting for you upon setup arrival. (I personally brought some backups with me just in case–which I definitely recommend–Murphy’s law!) I shipped items from several manufacturers and was pleasantly surprised. I had all my booth supplies shipped directly after the show as well. I was pretty amazed by the efficiency of shipping organization and breakdown process. I did have one box that was slightly damaged, but all the contents inside were good.
What’s the difference between Printsource and Surtex?
From my research of Surtex and experience at Printsource, the biggest difference between Printsource and Surtex is that Printsource buyers are mainly looking to purchase prints out right versus Surtex has a large component or division dedicated to art licensing. This factor could be either a positive or negative fact depending on your design brand. If you are looking to license the same or similar design motifs over multiple products in various categories, a show such as Surtex with a heavier licensing component may be a better fit; however, if you design heavily for direct purchase, are looking for alternate streams of income from licensing, Printsource may be a good fit. Also, from my Printsource experience, a lot of the buyer categories appear to be heavy in textiles and home decor versus paper and gift goods.
Trade Show Takeaways…Tips for Making Lasting Contacts
Get to know your professional peers!
The response from the professional art and design community at Printsource was astronomical! I truly felt welcomed and a part of the group as if I had been exhibiting for years. Everywhere I turned, I was greeted with a spirit of camaraderie, encouragement, and community.
Printsource has a robust educational component. A series of informational and trend ready topics are discussed during these forums. These can be down times during theshow. Use that time to network, meet your peers, walk the show and observe bigger established studios. There is so much to take in and learn from.
Dynamic portfolio design representation is key!
Think about your buyer and end user. How will the end product be used? Is it a garment for fashion? Will it be used on large scale items such as wallpaper? Make sure your design portfolio shows a variety of scale and color ways examples. I had multiple potential buyers ask for various scale examples to better conceptually visualize my designs on various products.
Don’t be afraid to say hello!
From talking to a lot of the established studios my impression was that many of their buyers during the show were current or previous customers. It may be daunting for a first time exhibitor to make new contacts during the show, but never fear it is definitely possible!
You’ve got to remember to smile, and make eye contact, and say hello. I made several new contacts doing the show by simply following this plan: Smile-Make eye contact-Say hello-Make your pitch! What’s your WOW factor? As artists and creatives, we all have one. Find the thing that makes your designs unique and share it with others. It could be your design process, inspiration, or a particular unique technique.
For me, I combine macro elements of nature inspired photography with hand drawn motifs and watercolors to result in bold colors that yield an organic twist.
Once you have initiated contact, you have a very small window of opportunity to captivate and engage your audience.
This is where preparation is key.
Practice your pitch and maximize your time!
- Practice your pitch! Yes, out loud! Recite to as many people as you can beforehand. It really does get easier the more you say it.
- Make sure you have enough space to:
- Display your art work
- Easily get to contact/invoice sheets/giveaways
- Have business cards and promo material readily displayed
- Organize your art work
- Have some systematic way of referencing your work (a number or name on the back of a design works nicely)
- Know which designs are available in repeat and size of repeat.
Research, research, research, and…..Don’t be afraid to ask for help!
Seek out advice and tips on blogs, Facebook groups, workshops.
We have a great surface design community that has an abundance of practical information and resources. Several groups that I found to be helpful and participating in included: www.textiledesignlab.com, www.makeitindesign.com, www.artlicensingshow.com.
For me personally, being an active member of Pattern Observer’s Textile Design Lab was a great way to expand my skills and stretch my creativity, all in a supportive community environment with a great group of fellow creatives. I also joined the Heart to Art Facebook group and purchased Khristian Howell’s tradeSHOW + TELL course, tradeshowandtell.com. I also regularly participated in Make it in Design challenges as they also have a great series of courses and activities for portfolio and trade show preparation. Art Licensing Show also has a great community component full of information and inside viewpoints from various art directors.
Being a first time exhibitor at Printsource was definitely a positive overall experience for me. Printsource gave me the opportunity to build both my professional network and resources for a more global audience on a personal face to face basis.
Exhibiting at Printsource also increased my confidence and provided a segue into more robust positioning for licensing my designs. Having built a foundation for direct sales of prints, I now feel ready to explore more licensing aspects and larger shows such as exhibiting in Surtex in 2017.
My overall advice for first time exhibitors …
Is to do your research. Walk a show if you can. There is nothing like seeing a trade show in action if you have never been to one. Once you commit to a show, give yourself enough time to prepare (6-9 months, depending on how much work you have) and have an abundance of your best representation of your work. Trade shows are an expensive investment. You want to make the best of your time and resources. Be prepared to ask questions and practice talking about your designs out loud! And finally, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and stressed. Trade shows can be intense. Fun, exhilarating, but intense all the same. Be honest with yourself regarding your goals for attending. Build new contacts? Strengthen existing ones? Sell “X” number of prints? It’s a competitive environment and buyers tend to go to bigger established studios that they know first.
Don’t get discouraged, you have something unique to offer! Trust yourself, and remember, it’s a process, building a clientele takes time.
A bit about Esther Shavon….
Photographer, Creative Director, Designer, Founder of E’FLOMAE: Contemporary Designs for Modern Living, a creative studio and lifestyle brand. Esther’s distinct style combines bold colors and abstract patterns with a modern twist. Designs are available for Direct Purchase, Licensing, and Commissions.
Connect with Esther on Social Media through the links below.