For the first time ever I’ve decided to enter the annual Spoonflower Fabric8 Contest which this year has the theme of a Botanical Sketchbook. I thought it would be fun to share how I went about creating the design for my entry and share more of an insight into how I work (just like I did in a previous post From Sketch To Collection) but first I feel I have to get on my soapbox and talk about the ‘underworld’ of design competitions. I normally like to keep it light here on the blog but it’s something that’s bugged me for a while and I feel needs saying, not just for me but for my fellow designers and any aspiring designers. If you’d prefer to skip my little rant then just scroll down to the next paragraph but here goes….
Rant Warning!! As a rule I don’t tend to enter surface pattern design competitions anymore because I feel they can often exploit designers or people trying to get into the Surface Pattern Design industry. It’s rare that they genuinely benefit the designer and can often be a way for a company to gain brand new designs for their products, for very little effort on their part and quite often, for no, or very little, financial commitment from them and little or no real financial reward for the designer. Having said that, there are still occasionally some reputable companies and competitions that do offer a genuine reward for all the hard work the designer puts in and one of those is the Spoonflower Fabric8 Contest. The winning designer will be offered a contract to design a fabric collection for Moda Fabrics, a $1000 advance against royalties, and a Wacom professional digital drawing tablet. Now that to me is a fair honest prize don’t you agree? It’s not just offering a few yards of fabric with your design on it, or simply just the prestige of seeing your design on products in the shop, it’s real financial reward for the hard work it actually takes to be a Surface Pattern Designer. Yes we love what we do and are extremely passionate about it but it doesn’t mean we can or should do things for nothing. We deserve to be paid for our work just like any other profession. Phew, ok, now I’ve got that off my chest, we can get on with the good stuff….lots of sketchbook pages and designs…..happy days!
Back to the good stuff – how I developed my design
The brief for this years Spoonflower Fabric8 Contest was to create designs reminiscent of those found in a botanical sketchbook, which to be honest sounded right up my street! I knew straight away that my design probably wouldn’t be just like the traditional botanical drawings as I do like to put my own style on it but I certainly wanted the design to be very inspired by botanical sketchbooks as I love drawing flowers, leaves, plants and basically most things organic! Spoonflower already had their own Pinterest board which you could use for inspiration but I also began looking for my own inspirational imagery and started pinning it to my Botanical board. I love the fresh colours and simplicity of some of these images but I also love the detail too.
I decided I wanted to use a combination of watercolour and line drawing to begin my design development so I started by painting different flower heads and leaves.
I really liked the pinks, lilacs and aquas mixed with the grassy greens so felt I was already some of the way there with the colour palette I wanted to go with. I love the delicate, gestural effect of watercolour but I also wanted to incorporate some line drawing and detail too. After all, the brief was Botanical Sketchbook and they are all about the detail! So I started creating some line work for the flower heads and leaves I’d already painted using my fineliners.
Next it was time to combine all my development paintings and drawings and start building the design. I took them into Photoshop first to clean them up and then moved them over to Illustrator where I live traced each motif. For the watercolour paintings I decided it was too much to keep all the painterly detail (bolt/craft fabric is usually screen printed so you are limited to the amount of colours you can work with) so it was more about the overall shapes for these. That’s what all the hand drawn line work was for, to enhance the painted flower heads and leaves. The design started taking shape and at first I began working on a white background which I felt was lovely and fresh….
…but I did feel I wanted it to ‘pop’ more especially as bolt fabric is often viewed in small thumbnails at first and needs to be able to stand out. I also wanted all the line work and detail to stand out more so I worked up another colourway. It’s very similar to my original but has a dark blue background, in fact, this became my entry! So here it is, my entry into this years Spoonflower Fabric8 Contest!
And here’s a close up of some of the detail in the design.
You can see my design repeated out as a fat quarter in my Spoonflower shop here, which at the moment only has this one design in it but I’m planning on filling it with lots more fabric that will be available to buy, so watch this space!
All the designs have now been submitted and the judges will pick their favourite 100 designs, which then go to a public vote to choose the top 8 designers. Those top 8 will be asked to develop 3 more designs to complete the collection and the public will then be asked to vote again for the winner! So it’s a long way to go yet, even to be in with a small chance but you’ve got to be in it to win it! I’m not a huge fan of public voting but with such a good prize up for grabs I’m willing to give it a go.
I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing my design process once again and if you’d like to see more of how I work you can have look at my Working In Surface Pattern Design blog series here.
Thanks for reading,