Surface pattern design is the creative field of creating original patterns and prints to be used on a variety of soft and hard suitable surfaces.
Including; textiles, furnishings, wallpapers, ceramics, and interiors.
These designs can be anything from floral prints to geometric patterns.
As our textile community contains a large number of surface pattern designers, I wanted to explore the world of surface patterns, through their eyes.
The skill and technique.
And, the process.
Let's dive right in shall we.
As you've probably guessed, the history of surface design is long and rich.
The ancient Chinese, Egyptians, Indus (India), and Greek all had their own styles, but it's probably the geometric patterns and bright colors of the Maya trends we remember best.
The dawn of the industrial age and the textile industry in Europe and North America in the 19th century allowed the industry to boom.
Mass production enabled prints to be produced on fabric textile products and shipped worldwide.
By the 20th century designers such as Liberty of London created prints and patterns for clothing and accessories, expanding into interiors, wallpapers, and all the products we know today.
Next up, our community member and textile designer Adriana will take us through the key parts of a style.
"The three most important parts to any piece of artwork regardless of sketch, trends, illustrator, or fabric are color, shape, and lines. Every successful surface pattern designer, when creating artwork knows the important role they play no matter surface design or surface patterns"
Beginning with color and color palettes, these are one of the most important elements for a surface designer, as it sets the tone, mood, and influence of the final look.
Be those paper products, throw pillows, or in the fashion industry.
For textile designers, shapes are the structure of any style, when creating art.
Geometric shapes for example are used in minimal design elements and produce a range of effects.
Understanding how these shapes fit in with the overall design is key for the aesthetic of the print pattern, be that in the art world, or on wrapping paper.
Lines generate texture, depth, and flow within a pattern or print.
They convey different messages that tie together the whole style.
Think of thick lines in a pattern and you think of strength and boldness, with the opposite true of thinner lines.
Next up, print and fashion designer, and Make the Dot community member Amber will explain her favorite methods for creating a surface design.
"For me, a surface design is best when it's fun and free. I dream of drawing, so that's the start of my process, followed by transferring that art to my computer"
Hand-drawing prints and patterns is the classic method used by artists the world over.
This involves drawing designs by hand offline using pencils, pens, coals, crayons, or other drawing tools.
Still the preferred method for most of the designers in our community, this allows designers to create a surface design that could be highly detailed and have a unique, handmade, art feel.
But also one that may contain seamless repeats.
Hand-drawing can be used to draw simple and complex designs, often used in the early stages of the design process, before a style is created digitally, using a digital illustrator.
As it's 2023 and design trends have now moved (somewhat) into the digital age away from paper, designers now use software tools such as Procreate or Adobe Illustrator to produce their patterns digitally.
Mainly drawing on their tablets this technique gives the flexibility of creating sketches, pen strokes, and paintbrush strokes within the same canvas.
Being digital, it also allows undo's and other elements to be added, while keeping an original look and feel similar to an offline version.
Printmaking is a traditional 20th-century technique that involves using blocks dipped in pain to print designs on surfaces.
A great example is creating bold colors and multiple designs quickly, with Andy Warhol-style prints that are often used as standalone prints or on textiles.
What's not to love.
Having started in fashion design, over the past 18 months, we've seen textiles as the most common application for surface pattern designs.
All are commonly adored with the best surface pattern designs from PV & Texworld.
Check out our blog on our visits to the shows and what we saw.
The beauty of print patterns and the opportunity for designers is the wide variety of uses for their work.
Wallpaper or similarily other paper products like gift wrap or wrapping paper are other ones.
For the past 10 years, it's been common to see the best and brightest florals and prints on feature walls in homes throughout Europe and North America.
Last but not least, ceramics give designers another medium to express themselves and their creative output.
Being drawers and painters, there are a few designers in our community who craft ceramics and hand-paint their art onto the surface.
Finally, if you're an artist wanting to begin a career in surface design, there are a few things you need.
"For me, being able to draw well, having a good online presence, and being able to have multiple income streams is a must for arts today".
This was the feedback from Artist and Make the Dot member Feanne.
Below is her full list of how to begin the road to becoming a successful surface pattern designer.
Beginning with the core skill:
We wrote a full blog on how brands source patterns and prints, and what designers can do to stand out following 400 interviews.
Or check out our community hub, which contains the best learning resources and sources.
And we're done.
Hope this guide has explained a little bit about the history, process, method, and application of surface pattern design, as well as the skills and tools needed to get started in the craft.
Will you be going out to create, and apply some of the techniques our community has recommended?
Want to get started?
Checkout resources like our textile design template gallery for a quick start to your process
Remember, no matter what you create, it all starts will a dot.
If you liked this blog checkout our others on the world of surface pattern design.