Why I chose Surface Pattern Design

This is the first post in a series I am going to write all about surface pattern design and running your own business!

I didn’t even know the term ‘surface pattern design’ when I took a weekend art class in textile design back in 2017. I was pregnant at the time and had always had a love of pattern and art but had no idea it was something I could actually do.

After doing this weekend course and seeing my artwork on a piece of fabric, a lightbulb went off in my head and I thought, wow I really want to learn how to do this! As I had maternity leave coming up I searched for online courses and found Make it in Design.

I loved the pace of their courses and found it was a great activity to have while my baby slept and I got to do something non-baby related!

But the pressure was on… I was lucky to have two years of maternity leave and as my return to work date approached I had to make a decision – do I keep my secure and well paid job or do I try to create a new career as a surface pattern designer?

photo of Anna looking away and thinking about surface pattern design
thinking about surface pattern design

My job was in the ecology field, and it was wonderful helping the environment but also very stressful, just how stressful I didn’t realise until I had a break from it. My ecology job also required quite a lot of brain power… which I knew I couldn’t perform at the same level after having so much sleep deprivation.

So I made the big decision to quit my job and focus on a career in surface pattern design!

These are the big positives for surface pattern design

  • you apply your art to actual products which is way cool – I love bright and happy art and hope that I am making someone smile when they see my work out in the world
  • it is a huge HUGE learning curve – as someone who loves learning and loves challenges this has been so good, I have literally started from scratch understanding pattern design, running a business, and marketing my work
  • it is flexible – I fit my ‘work’ hours around my daughter’s kindy days, which means most of my time is spent with her and the free time that I have is focussed on my work. It is really great having one parent (me) able to look after my daughter if she is sick or on holidays, it makes life much less stressful and I still feel like I am achieving something.
  • it makes financial sense if you licence your designs – you can get paid for the same design over and over again
  • I am still able to help the environment! Mostly through making donations to Coolum & North Shore Coast Care but also I hope my art makes people think about and appreciate the natural world.
  • and last of all, it is just plain bloody enjoyable – after years of a stressful job I feel quite self-indulgent spending my days drawing and making pretty things but really, what is life if not meant for enjoyment 🙂
photo of toddler facing away from camera looking at the ocean, wearing a blue and white surface pattern design on fabric
my daughter modelling one of my early designs

So that is a bit of insight into why I am a surface pattern designer! The next post in this series will be all about how to actually learn pattern design and running a business! Let me know in the comments below if you found this interesting or useful 🙂

I'd love to know what you think!

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