5 Adobe Illustrator Techniques To Add Life To Your Surface Pattern Designs

Struggling to improve your Adobe Illustrator skills, or wondering how professional surface pattern designers use Illustrator to create unique and eye-catching print designs? Textile designer Kelsie Makes Patterns explains her top 5 Illustrator techniques to develop your skills and add life to your designs.


Adobe Illustrator can be a bit overwhelming for beginner surface pattern designers. Your first thought might be to research and watch tutorials, but after watching 20 videos describing the same 5 Illustrator tools it’s hard to know how to improve. Most tutorials will teach you enough about a subject to help you get started, but it’s hard to learn past the basics. So what do you do if you want to improve your designs? Well, here are 5 Adobe Illustrator tools that I find useful to add depth to your surface pattern designs.


Simple Shading

Shading is one of those techniques that can be hard to accomplish. With a little experience you can use the gradient tool, however many different factors can affect how your gradient prints. A solution is to create a simple two-toned shade with your knife tool. Take this simple circle for example:

I want to turn this circle into a sun but right now it is looking a little flat. To make it stand out more, I like to take the knife tool and separate the circle into two pieces. The knife tool is hiding underneath the eraser tool and can be accessed by clicking/holding down your mouse on the eraser tool to reveal more options and navigating to the knife tool. Since we are working with something that is round I typically like to cut the circle following the circles curve:

The key to using the knife tool is not to second-guess yourself. If you are unsure of yourself or too slow you will start to get wavy lines and you want your lines as smooth as possible. It helps to select the object you want to cut first so you are only cutting that object and nothing else.

Also, where you cut the circle is important. For this circle you don’t want to cut directly down the middle because then you have just created a circle that is half one colour and half another. Figure out where you want the light to be coming from and then cut about a centimetre to half a centimetre inward.

Take the smallest section of your circle and slightly darken the colour. To do this, navigate to your left side toolbar and click on the ‘fill colour box’ to open your colour options. You’ll end up with a circle that looks like this:

It’s a minor change but it can add a lot of interest to your patterns.

If you hold down alt while using your knife tool you can cut your vectors using a straight line which is good for creating a glare affect on things like electronic screens, sunglasses, etc.

Here is an example of how a tablet illustration can look shaded vs non-shaded:


Applying Simple Patterns to Your Existing Elements

Creating simple repeating patterns to overlay on top of different elements in your pattern is clever way to elevate your patterns to the next level. To achieve this, you need to know a little bit about repeat patterns. If you’re unfamiliar with creating repeat patterns, Teela Cunningham has a great tutorial on YouTube to help. Illustrator also has its own simple textures you can use if you don’t want to make your own patterns. You can access these by navigating to the ‘Swatch Library’ in the swatches panel, >’Patterns’ > ‘Basic Graphics’ > ‘Basic Graphics_Textures’.

Now you know how to create basic patterns, here comes the fun part!

So you have a graphic you want to add a little more interest to. With a pattern selected, use your blob brush tool to paint over your graphics. Here are some balloons I created using this technique:

The final thing you need to do to make sure Illustrator is able to create a pattern out of your designs is grab all of the patterns you just applied to your graphics and go to ‘Object’ > ‘Expand’. Essentially, you’ve created a pattern within a pattern and Illustrator doesn’t like that, so you have to expand the pattern so Illustrator can convert it into a reusable swatch. Once you have clicked ‘Expand’, drag your pattern over to the swatches panel and that’s it.


Using the Roughen Tool

The Roughen Tool is pretty straightforward. You can find it in ‘Effects’ section of your top toolbar in the ‘Distort & Transform’ section. To use the Roughen Tool, select your object and open the roughen options popup.

Make sure preview is selected so you can see your graphic being manipulated live and then mess with your size and details. I usually make sure ‘Absolute’ and ‘Smooth’ are selected because I like the look of them best, but you can play around with the different options and find which combinations you prefer.

TIP: If you’re having trouble seeing the results of the Roughen Tool as you’re manipulating it, click out of the roughen popup and press control-H. Then you can go back into the roughen popup and start over.

I created an edge with a size of 3 and a detail of 10, which makes a subtle wave at the edges of my vector graphics. If you want to create a more noticeable wave, just increase the size.


Creating Negative Space

There are so many ways you can also use negative space in your patterns. My favourite thing to do is take a vector graphic and add strokes to all the elements. For this tutorial I used a pencil:

I wanted the pencil to look like it had been cut out of the background, so I made the background black and added a stroke. For those unfamiliar with Illustrator you can find both the ‘Fill Colour’ box and ‘Stroke Colour’ box in the left-side toolbar. To change the fill colour, double click the top square box. To change the stroke colour click on the box with a square hole in it that is usually underneath the fill box.

The key is to make the stroke the same colour as the background. In this case, the stroke needed to be black. I then changed the fill colour of the pencil so that the whole fill colour of the pencil was one colour. At this point, you can make the fill be any colour that you want. You might end up with something like this:


Creating Off-Centered Stroke Outlines

I probably use this technique the most since it is so easy to accomplish. The other day I created this pencil pattern:

I think we can all agree that it’s a little flat. To fix this, select all of your graphics, in this case the pencils, and copy (control-C) and paste in front (control-F). Remove the fill colour of your graphics by pressing the white box with a red line in it underneath your fill box, and add a stroke of any colour. I find that black is often the best for this technique.

Take your top layer of only strokes and drag them slightly diagonal in any direction and you’re done:


Salt ‘N’ Pepper: How To Improve Your Printed Textile Designs

Tips For Selling Your Surface Pattern Designs To Print Buyers


I hope you like these Illustrator techniques that I use to liven up my patterns. Do you have any other favourite techniques to use on your patterns?


About Kelcie

Kelcie is a Surface Pattern Designer and blogger at kelciemakespatterns.com, where she provides in depth tutorials on Adobe Illustrator and Surface Pattern Design. In her free time you can find her attempting to make fonts and singing terribly to classic rock music. Follow Kelcie on social media:


How To Start Teaching Creative Workshops

How To Start Teaching Creative Workshops and Classes | Use your creative skills to teach a workshop or class to earn extra income, perfect for freelancers and designers

 As a creative, you normally need to have multiple income streams to keep your job exciting and the money coming in. Lots of designers run creative workshops or classes, but if you’re new to teaching you might not know where to start. Beki from Print & Press outlines some of the main things to consider when planning and promoting your new class.


“I am SO pleased with my lampshade, I honestly can’t believe I made something so professional looking myself. Thanks a million 😄😄😄.” Logging onto my Instagram and seeing a message like that is quite simply the best thing, and one of the main reasons I love running creative workshops.

I’ve taught various classes on and off for years, but this year I started to seriously create and develop classes, which I now host throughout Kent and London. It doesn’t generate a full time income (and I love Print & Press far too much to leave!), but as a creative it’s a great additional income stream, and one of the most rewarding things I do. If you are an expert at making something and like talking to people, I’d thoroughly recommend you try teaching your own class.


Planning Your Creative Workshop

Start by making a list of some of the skills you have, and then break these down into individual activities. Do you know how to make clothes? Your activities might be altering a bought pattern, sewing a skirt, or upcycling clothes. If you’re a printed textile designer, your activities might be putting a pattern into repeat, painting with watercolours, or creating a colour palette.

Look at your activity list and think about the logistics of teaching that activity to a group of 5-10 people. Ask yourself:

  • Do you need any particular equipment? Could you buy/hire enough equipment to run the class/ask attendees to bring their own equipment/hold the workshop at a venue with equipment provided?
  • Is this an activity that you as a customer would be interested in taking part in? Is there a tangible skill attendees will learn, or something they will make and take away with them? Your class has to be interesting if people are going to sign up for it.

Considering equipment and learning outcomes will show you if your class idea is feasible or not. If you think it is then great, now’s the time to flesh out your idea into something really exciting.

Your class needs to have a specific aim, so instead of ‘watercolour painting’, what about ‘learning to paint flowers with watercolours’? I teach a lino cutting class where attendees learn to make a lino printed tote bag, and they practice printing leaves to try out different techniques. The more specific your class, the easier you will find it to plan the format, and your customers will know exactly what they will be learning. Think if there are any fun or on trend details you could add to your class – pom pom necklace making? ‘Stranger Things’ 80s style screen printing?

Make a list of everything your students will do during the class, and practice doing this yourself, at the same time as explaining out loud what you’re doing. If you can, film yourself so you can watch it back, or ask a friend to watch you. Work out where you should pause to let everyone try for themselves, where you need to show closeups, and where you might need to give people extra help. The ‘Tell, Show, Do, Review’ is a good method to follow when teaching creative projects.

A top tip is to give all of your equipment and materials a proper name in advance. I realised halfway through my first class that I was so used to making something on my own that I didn’t know the proper name for one of my tools, and looked a bit silly trying to explain it to everyone!


How Much To Charge For Your Creative Workshop

There are lots of ways to work out your prices, but my preferred method is to create an Excel document and add up the following costs:

  1. How much will all of the materials and single use items cost (things you need to buy for each student, every class).
  2. How much will any multi use equipment cost (things like paint brushes, tubes of paint, scissors, etc). Work out how many single uses you think you will get out of this product (remember if you have a class of 8 using a tube of paint, that’s 8 single uses). Things like scissors you may buy once and not need to replace for years, but make sure a small contribution of a few pence from each ticket is included.
  3. How much will the venue cost (some venues will charge a flat rate for the room, others a set cost per person who attends).
  4. What is your hourly wage, and how many hours work will each workshop take. For every two hour class you will probably spend at least two to three hours preparing (most likely more for your first few classes).
  5. Do you have any additional costs (eg. poster printing, Eventbrite fees, a taxi to the venue (with all of your equipment), etc)

Once you have a total cost for running each workshop, divide it by the number of people you expect to attend to work out the cost per person.

Now you need to set your selling price. I normally look to see how much similar workshops cost, and match my prices to them, so I know I’m charging a fair price. Remember to charge more than your cost per person, so you are making a small amount of profit. This is also your buffer in case less people book onto the course, so that you don’t end up out of pocket.


Promoting Your Creative Workshop

I’ve found that the best way to promote workshops is through word of mouth. Unless you live in a big city, it’s unlikely people will travel a large distance to attend your class, so the best thing to do is make some flyers and head out into your local town. Ask cafe and shop owners if you can put up a poster, and talk to them about what you’re doing so they can promote it to their customers. You could make a few of the things you’ll be making at the class, and ask to display them in a local cafe/shop/heritage centre/art gallery. I’ve sold tickets to my next class sitting in a cafe with the lampshade I’d just finished making at a class an hour before – people love to see what they will be making and what’s possible to achieve in a few hours.

There are lots of online sites you can use to sell and promote your tickets, but below are some of the ones I have had the most success with:

It’s also a good idea to find any local facebook groups and twitter hashtags. Maybe you have a local textile group, art collective, or creative studios who could advertise your event to their members.


I hope this has encouraged you to try teaching your skills and running your own creative workshop. I am so pleased to have started doing this regularly, and I’ve realised that teaching people new skills is now one of my favourite parts of my week. Good luck, and do let me know how you get on with your class.

Writing A Creative Project Brief: How To Write A Successful Brief For Your Final Major Project

Emily Hammond is a recent graduate in Surface Pattern Design for Interiors at Swansea College of Art, and the winner of the 2017 Print & Press Student Print Design Competition. She resides in West Yorkshire, where she is establishing her freelance business. Find out her advice for students undertaking their final year of a textile design course, and how to write a creative project brief.


Establishing Your Degree Collection Through A Written Brief

Your written brief is the sail on your boat. Without it, your project is aimlessly floating and won’t be prepared for any rough tide. My first bit of advice would be to make it your own. Only you know your work and capability best. Tutors and peers can advise your journey, but only you can carve your path.

The content in your brief needs to be tactile enough, as you may be questioned thoroughly on it during assessment period. Below are some questions to ask to give structure to your brief.

What’s your topic?

Pick a theme that will best represent your individual style and skill set. It needs to be something that can endure weeks as your final degree module usually lasts from two to six months. If your idea only lasts for a couple of weeks, you won’t be able to create a full body of work that keeps regenerating new outcomes. No development means no project.

I chose to draft this out through brainstorming key words and floating ideas. Everyone has a different method of planning so try catering it towards your own thought process. I usually get a few ideas at once so it helps me to write them down into a brainstorm so that I can reflect later and refine ideas into outcomes.


What methods will you use?

Screen print, ceramics, stitch, digital print? Whatever the answer, you should explain your intention for these processes and why you are using them.


Which pathway discipline does your work lie in?

Interiors, fashion, stationery? It is important to consider where you fit into the market and your work needs to be a visual representation of this. I know one size doesn’t fit all, and I’ve seen many students crossing pathways such as fashion and interior designers or fashion makers.

Your degree show should be an accurate reflection of your chosen pathway and define you to the industry and potential employers.

Who is your target market?

Who will buy my products? Build a client profile board to extract these ideas and put your work into context. You can create a mini story with this.


What is your colour palette?

This can be the most underrated part, and is often neglected. One thing I regret is not doing enough colour swatching. By picking out Pantone shades and RGB colour scales, your work will have more visual structure. Colours wont clash and you’ll be able to predict your outcomes a lot better.

If you are digital printing, it is worth requesting printed fabric samples, as the colours may not always print how they look on the screen. If hand dyeing or screen printing, keep a small book to log different shades and colours complete with fabric samples. I scanned in paintings and photos of colourful objects, and picked the colours with the ‘Eyedropper’ tool in Photoshop to create palettes.


What’s your timeline?

This is only a suggestion as I didn’t end up using one – Mine was in the form of scribbled to do lists in my diary last minute and hoping for the best! However, a timeline gives a rough structure of where you want to see your work in the next few weeks. The thing that put me off originally making one is it will change – a lot. You won’t be following the same timeline one week before hand in – things change. Your supplier might be late, your ideas can change. However, by letting your tutor know your project intentions, you will appear organised, dedicated and outsiders will be able to visualise your predicted body of work a lot more fluently.

Start off with listing the weeks and jotting down what you expect to be done at the end of each week and bullet point ways you can make this happen. I’m going to leave this one as optional because if you’re anything like me you may work spontaneously and weekly deadlines may make you panic.

Designers – How To Organise Your Time (plus some free tools to help)



These are the backbone to your brief. If you’re not strong at writing and your ideas usually come to you visually, mood boards are a life saver. They can be created handmade or digitally. I prefer digital as I they look more professional, and they look effective in digital and paper portfolios.


Creating A Portfolio

Some courses may require a substantial portfolio, outlining your degree show project. This will be your main tool towards seizing your dream job. Each portfolio is individual. Layouts are your own preference. The main thing is they need to be clear and coherent.

You may want to include:
– Fabric or paper samples
– Colour palettes
– Mood boards
– Space mapping – your designs on the products intended for purpose
– Keywords

If you are unsure on layout, it is worth looking on Pinterest. Keywords such as ‘mood board’, ‘sketchbook layout’ and ‘creative portfolio’, may help you find what you are looking for.

The portfolio is ongoing, so don’t be disappointed if you don’t have as many items as you would like or you feel that it doesn’t represent your best work. Your style will keep evolving, and so will your portfolio.


For more information on my work you can visit my website, or follow me on Instagram. Good luck everyone!


Want some more advice on preparing for your final year? Read textile designer Katy Welsh’s 6 Tips For Your Final Year At University.

Already finished uni and want to know what to do next? Read 8 Things To Do After Finishing Your Textile Design Degree and How To Make Money From Your Textile Design Skills.

Designer Interview: Artist & Illustrator Georgie St Clair

posted in: Designer Interview | 0

Georgie St Clair Illustrator Designer Interview, with advice on how to improve your Instagram following and finding time to be creative

We caught up with artist and illustrator Georgie St Clair about her inspiration, finding time to be creative, and her tips for improving your Instagram following.

Could you tell us a bit about yourself…

I’m an artist and illustrator living in Brighton with my gorgeous 3 kids and hubby. I create floral and botanical inspired art and illustrations, created using real flowers and foliage.

I sell my prints online and work with a variety of clients across the world. My latest client was in South Korea. They found me all thanks to the power of the internet and Instagram – which I’m slightly obsessed with!

Georgie St Clair Illustrator Designer Interview, with advice on how to improve your Instagram following and finding time to be creative


Your Instagram account is hugely popular (48,000 at the latest count), what are your 3 top tips for building an Instagram following?

Consistency, creativity and commenting.

Choose your topic and consistently post around that theme. If you’re a textile designer sharing your process, don’t suddenly start posting about your kickboxing hobby!

Think about how you can present your theme. For example if you’re a textile designer, think creatively. Make interesting origami shapes from your textiles, take them outside and photograph them in the trees. Think beyond just showing them as piles of fabric or textiles draped on a mannequin.

Comment on other people’s photos regularly and reply to people who comment on your photos. It’s a matter of being polite. If someone takes time to comment on my post, 9 out of 10 go off and check out their account and leave a like or a comment.

Make sure you have a good profile picture too – that entices people to check you out.


Who are your favourite accounts to follow on Instagram?

Oh my word I need another blog post! @Caroline_South has been and still is one of my favourite accounts since starting on Instagram 4 years ago. Her creative styling, colour palettes and photography are brilliant.

A recent discovery is @allthatisshe. Lifestyle accounts can be very ‘same-y’ but Dominique has such fantastic ideas brilliantly composed and captured.

Georgie St Clair Illustrator Designer Interview, with advice on how to improve your Instagram following and finding time to be creative


We were very impressed reading your client list (Adobe, Stylist, Sass & Belle…), how did you secure your first big commission?


Seriously though, I think Instagram had a lot to do with finding clients in the beginning. Although that has changed as the algorithm changed and made visibility on Instagram more difficult.

However the first big commissions actually came from blogging. I was also discovered by Not On The High Street and invited to pitch my products as a result of having a blog. I’ve returned to concentrate on blogging, e-newsletters and actually reaching out to people now. Old school marketing techniques 😉


You haven’t had any ‘formal’ illustration training, what advice do you have for someone looking to start a creative career in a different specialism than they trained in?

I think you’ve just got to get stuck in and go for it. Find time to develop new skills every moment you possibly can.

When my kids were babies I would draw at nap times or once they had gone to bed. Even now I grab every moment I can to practice and develop new skills. If you’re passionate enough you’ll find the time. I rarely watch TV. And I get up before the rest of my family so I can have creative time to myself.

Georgie St Clair Illustrator Designer Interview, with advice on how to improve your Instagram following and finding time to be creative


Your beautiful illustrations contain lots of floral imagery, how much of your design work happens ‘in real life’ and how much is computer based?

At the moment it’s 50/50. I’m currently creating imagery for products so there’s a lot of photoshop work to be done. Once I’ve finished creating these, I want to go back to to simple pencil drawing and collaging with real flowers for some limited edition art prints.


Which artists or designers inspire you?

Artist, Krisjana S Williams work. She uses vintage imagery painstakingly collaged to create the most intricate illustrations that also contain a lot of flora and fauna.

I adore Carne Griffiths for his dynamic portraits created using tea, ink and alcohol.

Also Georgia O’Keefe for her flower paintings. One day, I want to return to oil painting. I find it so relaxing.

And Kelly Smith aka Birdy and Me. Her magical illustrations and beautiful pencil work is so beautiful.

Georgie St Clair Illustrator Designer Interview, with advice on how to improve your Instagram following and finding time to be creative


What are you most proud of achieving since setting up your business?

I still find it amazing that I have created imagery that people want to buy and have on their walls! Plus having just turned 40, I’m finally living the dream of having a creative business. It’s still very much a work in progress and I don’t feel I’ve ‘arrived’ yet, but I’m very happy I’ve finally started on this path.

Georgie St Clair Illustrator Designer Interview, with advice on how to improve your Instagram following and finding time to be creative


Can you tell us about something exciting you are working on at the moment?

I’m in the process of creating illustrations for products and homewares. Again, something I have wanted to do have for a very long time. And my character Sassy Du Fleur is just about to feature on makeup products in South Korea and across Asia.

There’s a lot of ideas in my brain that I want to get out and create – so everyday feel exciting right now!

Georgie St Clair Illustrator Designer Interview, with advice on how to improve your Instagram following and finding time to be creative


If you’d like to find out more about Georgie, or her stylish muse Sassy Du Fleur you can visit her website, NOTHS shop, or her Etsy shop. Georgie is also on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.


Print & Press In The Press

posted in: News | 0

We’ve been mentioned on a few more blogs this past couple of weeks, so thank you very much to everyone for their features.


Georgie St Clair – Is Personalisation More Than A Trend?

Entrepreneur support scheme BeePurple – Profile on Beki Gowing

Kate On Thin Ice – Leaving A Safe Job To Set Up A Business

Jennifer Hamley – Q&A

Jennifer Hamley – What’s In Your Handbag

University of Brighton – From Graduate Scheme To Being Your Own Boss

Women Who Create – Finding A Creative Community When You Move To A New Area


5 Top Tips for Selling Your Designs to Print Buyers

posted in: Start Up and Freelance Advice | 0

5 Tips For Selling Your Designs To Print Buyers

Vicki Wallis from 29andSeptember Print Studio gives her advice for freelancing and selling your pattern designs to print buyers, and a FREE checklist to help you prepare for your next meeting.

As someone who’s been on both ends of the process; as a print buyer and designer, I can tell you that print design is much more than pretty motifs. Unfortunately, in a world with so much competition, it’s not enough to just design things you like and hope it sells. Print design is big business and as print designers we have to treat it as that – a business.

That’s not to say that you can’t enjoy making designs that you like, but in order to make sales, there’s more to consider than just the design aesthetic. This post is to try and help you to make the most of your design talent by understanding what buyers are looking for and covering key information they’ll want to know.


How To Get A Meeting With A Print Buyer

If you’re new to the industry and don’t have any contacts yet, the first step is to find potential clients to arrange meetings with. I find it very beneficial to network, both in real life and online via social media. There’s lots of events throughout the year relating to textiles and print, such as sourcing fairs and trend forecasting seminars, where a lot of industry professionals will be looking for new ideas. Putting a face to a name can really help and being there in person is very different to sending an email that can be ignored.

Of course, there can be some success by sending ‘cold’ (contacting people you haven’t spoken to before) emails, but keep in mind that people are busy and emails can easily get lost. Do your research before emailing someone, don’t send an impersonal mass email. Choose brands to email that have a similar aesthetic to you and attach a few relevant examples of work to the email; keep the file size below 10mb as some businesses block emails with larger files and you don’t want to annoy people by slowing down their mail service. Keep the email brief and to the point, explain why you think your work is a good fit and essentially help the buyer to understand why meeting you would be beneficial to them.

Snail mail also has its place in making contacts. I like to use postcard printing company Moo for promotional materials. I choose them because I like the quality and they have a ‘printfinity’ option, meaning that you can print a different design onto each postcard that you order, meaning I can send a few different prints to showcase my work to potential clients. As with sending an email, enclose a brief message about who you are and what you can do for the company.


When you’ve got some appointments set up, the next step is to prepare for the meeting;


1. Be aware of costs

In order to have a successful business, cost awareness is crucial. Not only will pricing your works appropriately ensure that you have a viable business, but also understanding the cost implications of your designs will help you when speaking with clients. For instance, if you’re working with a client who is on a budget, it’s not a good idea to design a screen print with 15 colours, as this will be very expensive compared to a print with 4 colours.

Often clients aren’t very knowledgeable about the printing process and there is sometimes an expectation that the designer will advise on the process. Try to gain a working knowledge of print methods and costs so that you can help them, as this could give you an edge over your competition.

If you’re new to the industry, I’d also encourage you to make a business plan. It doesn’t necessarily have to be something really involved, but having some structure and financial goals will help you when it comes to pricing.

5 Steps To Work Out Your Selling Price


5 Tips For Selling Your Designs To Print Buyers | How To Sell Your Pattern Designs | Buyer Meeting Preparation | Commercial Textile Printing Designer


2. Be clear about what you are offering

As a print buyer, I found that different designers would offer different things, for example, some would sell a flattened file so that it wasn’t possible for us to edit in house, whereas others were happy to provide layered files. Before you meet with a buyer, consider what you’re willing to give and how you will answer questions on file types and what they can and can’t do with them.

Often brands already have their own colours chosen for the season, so they will want to use their own colours. You may be asked if you can recolour, or if they’re allowed to, so make sure you have a response and price if applicable. Nothing knocks your confidence in a pitch more than fumbling around trying to answer a question.

In terms of the print setup, I was surprised how many times people pitched a design that looked as though it was a repeat, only to find that it was a placement print. In my experience in the fashion industry, particularly the high st retailers, there’s often a demand for 4-way repeat prints as these can be very cost effective vs other print methods. Make sure you can easily tell potential clients about the print setup and any recommendations you have for the best result.

Another key thing that buyers will want to know is the terms of the license. Are they getting exclusive rights? If so, they may ask if the print has previously been seen on your website, social media accounts or by other clients. Some customers will insist that the print cannot be shown elsewhere.


3. Be organised

Pitches can be nerve-wracking, I’m a terrible public speaker but have found that good organisation can really help with the nerves. Before you go into a pitch, make sure you’re prepared for the questions on costs and your offering – if you need to write this down somewhere that’s absolutely fine, but make sure that you can access it easily. A few seconds looking for a piece of paper will feel like forever to a busy buyer sitting waiting for you!

Before going into a pitch, I’d recommend organising some sort of order for the designs you’re showing. This would depend on how you work, but for example this could be organising by collection, theme, or for customers with wide product ranges, prints suitable for a particular product or customer type. Even if the prints aren’t designed to be bought together, it’s best to consider how they’ll look on a rack or together on a table, you want to avoid colours or styles clashing as this can detract from the individual prints.


5 Tips For Selling Your Designs To Print Buyers | How To Sell Your Pattern Designs | Buyer Meeting Preparation | Commercial Textile Printing Designer


4. Be yourself

Buyers are busy and you wouldn’t have been allowed to show your work if they didn’t think you had talent. Therefore, an important lesson I’ve learnt is, stick to what you’re talented at. I know it’s tempting when you see a gorgeous print and would like to emulate the feel of it in some way (be inspired by, never copy, of course!), but if it’s a watercolour painting and you have no experience with watercolours, it might not be the best use of your time.

Don’t feel pressured into doing something because it’s on trend. It’s often a plus to be trend relevant, but there’s so many different trends each season, find the ones that appeal to you and your skills, rather than being totally driven by them. It shows when you’ve done something because you felt you had to.

Buyers want to be inspired and it’s ok to have some surprises in your offering, so don’t be afraid to follow your own style.


5. Be relevant to the client

If you’re showing work one on one to a client, this is the most important tip I have – make sure the work you show is relevant to them. A couple of brands I worked at have very specific tastes and even though trends change, season after season you can easily identify one of their prints; they have a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’ about them. We would have people pitch prints that were totally wrong for us. It quickly became clear that the designer hadn’t made any effort to tailor their offering to us, which was disappointing as the work we had seen online was promising.

Buyers want to know what’s in it for them, why is the work going to make their range better. If you make their job easier, by carefully curating your offering to them, you prevent them from wasting time sifting through lots of unsuitable designs and instead they can focus their attention on a smaller range of prints that their customers will love.

If it’s a brand that you particularly want to work with and their style aligns with your skills, I’d encourage you to design some extra prints specifically with them in mind. Of course, this is extra work on your part but if you get it right it shows them that you understand their brand and are willing to work in order to build a relationship – traits that will have buyers calling you again in the future.


5 Tips For Selling Your Designs To Print Buyers | How To Sell Your Pattern Designs | Buyer Meeting Preparation | Commercial Textile Printing Designer


I hope this post has helped you with things to consider when selling your print designs – remember you’re selling something and as such you have to treat it like a business deal. I’ll be keeping an eye on the comments box, so feel free to message with any questions and I’ll try my best to answer them for you.


Preparing to launch your next collection? Download our free launch plan to help you get organised.


Vicki Wallis Bio

I’ve been working in the fashion industry for over 12 years and have been fortunate enough to work in a variety of roles, including fashion and print designer, buyer, garment technologist and production management. I’ve worked for some of the UK’s biggest retailers, but found that smaller labels suited me best as I get to work on products from start to finish, rather than focusing on a small area.

I started my company, 29andSeptember Studio, to help small and start-up fashion labels understand the fashion industry and succeed in their business, through educational blog posts and one-on-one training.


Designer Interview: Edwina from Wall Circus

posted in: Designer Interview | 0

Designer Interview - Edwina from Wall Circus

Graphic designer Edwina talks colours, start up business tips, and design inspiration, as we find out more about the beautiful children’s print company Wall Circus.

Could you tell us a bit about yourself? 
Hi, my name is Edwina, I live in south west London with my husband and our 3 little tearaways. I worked as a graphic designer commuting into London for several years. After I had my second son, I made the really hard decision to give up my lovely job and work as a freelance designer from home. It was a huge leap of faith but I haven’t looked back. The freedom this has given me is amazing – I still manage to do the job I love but with the bonus of being able to work flexibly around my children. 
Designer Interview - Edwina from Wall Circus
What inspired you to start Wall Circus?
I spent 10 years designing posters for the arts and entertainment industry. After I became a mum and stopped commuting, it felt really instinctive to design for the new world I was now inhabiting. I am also really aware of the power of art and that surrounding children with positive messages can have a really great impact on their confidence and self esteem. All Wall Circus‘s designs are intended to do just that – I love bringing impactful, inspiring and affirming messages to children’s surroundings.
We found you on Instagram, where you have a gorgeous account. Do you have any advice for designers on curating their images?
That’s very kind, thank you. It certainly takes a bit of trial and error. I am definitely still learning but I think the key is consistency – sticking to just one filter and a particular colour palette can really help this. You can vary the content and the composition but if you follow to this tip, your feed should flow well. 
Designer Interview - Edwina from Wall Circus
Who are your favourite accounts to follow on Instagram?
I love @littlebigbell – her use of colour is stunning. I am also always in awe of @jsyamsek – her styling is gorgeous. 
Do you have any advice for designers looking to set up their own business?
The best advice I probably have (which came from my husband!) is to try & find a cost effective way of testing the viability of your product in the market before investing too heavily. If you are able to take orders for products rather than investing in stock, then this can really help. Taking stalls at fairs is also a great way of getting good value feedback from customers on your products.
Designer Interview - Edwina from Wall Circus
Colour looks to be a really important part of your work, where do you find your inspiration?
I have always loved colour and it’s ability to say so much without words. Every Wall Circus design is intended to be positive and feel-good so colour and combinations of colours are hugely important in this. I love playing around with my Pantone swatch book trying out different colour combinations to achieve this.
Which artists or designers inspire you?
I’m fascinated by the evolution of poster design and draw inspiration from many different sources. I love David Hockney’s work, I think he is amazing with colour. I’m also really inspired by retro graphic styles by designers such as Tom Eckersley and Dick Bruna. I love the boldness and beauty of simplified, clean shapes and flat colour.
Designer Interview - Edwina from Wall Circus
What are you most proud of achieving since launching Wall Circus? 
I’m really thrilled by how well the business has grown. I started it as very much a local business but we are so lucky to live in an age where we have the internet and social media at hand to grow our businesses. I am now sending orders to as far a field as Australia and Singapore. 
Can you tell us about something exciting you are working on at the moment?
There are new designs appearing on the website regularly but most excitingly, I am looking into a few different applications for my designs which will bring some new and exciting products to the Wall Circus on-line store. Be sure to follow us on social media to keep up with our latest additions!
Designer Interview - Edwina from Wall Circus
If you’d like to keep up to date with Wall Circus, or buy some of their gorgeous prints, you can visit their website, or follow them on Facebook and Instagram

Lampshade Making Workshop

posted in: News | 0

Hello, Beki from Print & Press, London here. I ran a lampshade making workshop at The Plumstead Pantry in Greenwich earlier this week, and it was absolutely fab! Thank you so much to the amazing ladies who came along, I’m so proud of how quickly you all picked it up.

If you’d like to come along to one of the workshops, I’ll be running them in Kent and London over the next few months. There’s also some lino printing workshops running where you can make your own tote bag or hand printed fabric. Visit my Eventbrite page for all the dates and more information: beki-gowing.eventbrite.com

London Lampshade Making Workshop with Beki Gowing

London Lampshade Making Workshop with Beki Gowing

London Lampshade Making Workshop with Beki GowingLondon Lampshade Making Workshop with Beki Gowing

9 Creative Ways To Use Personalised Fabric To Promote Your Business

9 Creative Ways To Use Fabric To Promote Your Business

Personalised fabric is a great accessory to showcase your pattern designs and make your packaging and promotional materials stand out.

For all of these examples, you can use a beautiful patterned fabric, or why not make your own pattern which includes your company logo and contact details to promote your business.


1. Fabric Presentation Bags and Wrapping Paper

Beautiful packaging and presentation will make your customer feel extra special, and make the process of unwrapping your products even more enjoyable. Use a beautiful fabric to make your gift bags or fabric wrapping paper something your customers want to keep.

You could also offer this as a giftwrapping service on your website or for special events like Christmas and Mother’s Day.

Instructions on handmadiya.com


Digitally printed banner for market stall

2. Banners and Table Cloths

If you sell your products at markets or trade fairs, you know how important it is to have eye catching signs to draw attention to your stand. You could print customer reviews, your most popular Instagram pictures, or just your company logo on a nice bright background.

1m of fabric is big enough for a banner, and 2m will cover most market tables.

Image from alyssaleannehoppe.com


3. Badges and Magnets

When you’re making things with fabric, you always end up with lots of small scraps. Instead of throwing them away, make personalised fabric badges and magnets to sell alongside your other products, or to wear at markets and networking events. Buy a kit to achieve a professional finish if you want to sell them.

Badge instructions on pintsizedtreasure.com

Magnet instructions on andreasnotebook.com


4. Fabric Business Cards

Show you’re a textile creative by including your fabrics on your business cards. You could sew examples of your patterns to the back, or sew a ruffle or flounce to the edge to make your business card stand out in a pile.

Why not print your business cards directly on fabric, and use interfacing to make it rigid? You could make 112 double sided digitally printed fabric business cards from 1m of Cotton Sateen.

Image from sappyapple.blogspot.co.uk


5. Fabric Business Card Holder

For customers you really want to impress, give them your card in a bespoke fabric business card holder. They will be reminded of you every time they give anyone their card.

Extra gifts like this can be a great way to build your relationship with customers and keep them coming back to you.

Instructions on makingtheworldcuter.com


How to make fabric ribbon

6. Personalised Ribbon

Art prints, folded fabric, handbags, and dresses, everything looks better if it’s wrapped with a ribbon. And even better if the ribbon is a beautiful pattern that promotes your business.

Instructions on tikkido.com


7. Printed Fabric Labels

Any products you sell made from fabric should include a label with your business name on. It makes them look more professional, and reminds people of your company if they want to buy any more, or promote you to their friends.

Digitally printing your labels means you can include as many colours as you want, and you can include extra information like washing instructions, fabric composition, and your website. To make your labels, just set up a metre canvas in Photoshop or Illustrator, and copy and paste your label, remembering to leave enough space for a seam allowance.

All of our fabrics are suitable for printed labels, but we like Furnishing Cotton as it is easy to sew but has a nice weight.


8. Personalised Swatch Book

Create some mini fabric swatch books to give to potential buyers or retailers. These don’t need to include your full portfolio, but are a great way to remind people of your style and how your designs look of fabric (and are much more exciting and likely to be kept than a printed PDF!) Always keep one in your bag for impromptu meetings.

Have a look at fabric and wallpaper swatch books in department stores for ideas on how to make and present your swatch book.


How to make a fabric collage card

9. Thank You Cards

A lovely customer, another creative who’s helped you out, a mentor who’s given some great advice, or the organiser of an event you went to. It’s always nice to send a thank you card, and even more thoughtful if it’s handmade and includes your own fabrics or designs.

Minki Kim shows how to use fabric scraps to make an applique card, or you could try making something more 3D or layered.



Do you use your personalised fabric in any other ways to promote your business? Or has this inspired you to try something new? Write us a comment on Facebook, we’d love to know.

How Much Does Digital Fabric Printing Cost?


How To Make Money From Your Textile Design Skills

posted in: Start Up and Freelance Advice | 3

How To Make Money From Your Textile Design Skills

If you’re a recent (or not so recent) textile design graduate, you might have experienced a horrible moment where you’ve wondered where on earth all the jobs are, and how will you make money? Luckily, Textiles gives you practical and useful skills, and you can use these to sell your work, or even start your own business.


1. Design artwork for local events and organisations

As a print designer, your role is to make beautiful images. These are normally repeat patterns, but you could turn your skills to creating a poster for a local market, a new logo for a small business, a beautiful newsletter for a charity, or an online banner for a local organisation.

Think about your strengths – are you good at hand illustrations, bold colours, imaginative compositions, photography – and build on these to think of designs you could make outside of pattern design.

Most likely you won’t have the technical skills to pitch for big jobs or national companies (although it’s always worth trying), but approach small or local organisations, who might not have the budget to pay a professional design business. Show them examples of your patterns and drawings, and let them know what you think you could offer them, quoting a fair price for your work.

Websites like Freelancer and Fiverr are also options for advertising your skills, although don’t feel you have to match the incredibly low prices offered by some, quality is more important than quantity.


2. Offer art and design portfolio coaching to school students

You’re building your professional textiles portfolio, so you have a great insight into what students need to show in their portfolio to get into a Foundation or Undergraduate degree course. Ask your old school/college if they would hire you for a day, or could advertise your services to students, create a poster to pin on noticeboards in your area, and post an ad on Gumtree.

Remember to give honest but constructive feedback, and if possible show examples of what a great portfolio looks like. Give advice on designers they should look at, exhibitions to visit, and extra projects or designs to try.


3. Websites that let you print and sell your designs on products

The great things about sites like Red Bubble, Society 6, and Print All Over Me, is you can sell products made with your patterns, without having to invest any money in stock. You agree to give a percentage of the sale to the website, and in return you can sell products including tshirts, mugs, art prints, towels and dresses with your designs on. Great for starting out, but the commission and selling prices charged by the sites can be quite high, so as your business grows you will want to take over production of your products.


4. Sell your pattern designs online

While not always as easy as it sounds, it’s worth setting up an account on the popular freelancing websites like Patternbank, The Creative Finder, and Behance and adding images of the patterns you would like to sell. Ensure your designs can’t be easily copied, by never showing a full repeat and including a watermark. Once you have an online portfolio, send it to any contacts you have so they can see examples of your most recent work.


5. Run a textiles, printing, or art workshop

This can be a fun event to run with a friend, especially if you feel nervous talking in front of people. Come up with an idea based on your skills (often the simpler the better – don’t try and cram in too much), and organise a workshop.

Think about some of the best classes and workshops you attended at university, and remember your students will want to leave having made a finished product/artwork.

Ask local churches, village halls, cafes and businesses if they have an affordable space you can hire, buy all the materials you need, and advertise like crazy.

You will need some upfront investment, and the first one might have a few hiccups, but if it goes well you could start a regular class, and income stream. It’s also a great way of meeting other creatives in your area.


6. Teach a local art class

If the idea of setting up your own workshop sounds too much, create a CV and portfolio that highlights your teaching/coaching experience, and approach local art classes and summer schools. Create a lesson plan to demonstrate how you will teach a particular skill, show examples of your work, and list professional experience and/or awards won. It’s also worth mentioning if you have a strong social media following, as places like this will appreciate if you can help support and promote their classes.


7. Start a fashion label

I don’t mean a ‘proper’ fashion label (although, why not?), but you can easily make some clothes and sell them. Your design skills mean you have a unique personal style, and most likely a clear idea of what you do and don’t like.

Try the #girlboss approach and customise charity shop finds, or digitally print your best designs and create some clothes. There’s lots of simple clothing patterns on the internet, or companies like the ethically focused Kalopsia Collective can make professional quality clothes for you, with their newly launched Assemble Apparel service.

When you have your finished creations, hire a stall at a local craft market, and set up a boutique on Asos Marketplace.


8. Design artwork for bands

Bands are always looking for unique and innovative artwork for their merch: tshirts, posters, albums, websites, etc. Think about your design handwriting and ask what type of music genre you would suit. Brent Galloway has written a great post on how to create band merchandise, and you can also show your portfolio to bands and see if you have anything existing that they like and would want to use.


9. Sell your products on Etsy

Things like cushions, zip bags, pencil cases, tote bags, etc are really easy to make, and don’t need much sewing knowledge. In fact we have DIY cushion and bag Pinterest boards which can help you with how to guides.

Digitally print your favourite patterns (Print & Press prices start at £20 for a metre, enough to make 6 cushions or 16 A5 zip bags), and spend a weekend making your products, photographing, and setting up your Etsy page.

There are also other sales platforms like Folksy and NuMonday which are smaller but cater more to UK audiences.

Read: How Much Does Digital Fabric Printing Cost?


Don’t forget, if you are making anything to sell, (or selling your services) you should work out a selling price that will appeal to customers, and pay you for your time. Read our 5 Steps To Work Out Your Product’s Selling Price article to find out how.


1 2 3 4 8