Pattern Observer is a great resource for people who want to learn about surface pattern design. I’m a huge fan. They interview designers, write about the latest trends and run online courses about the technical skills you need to have as well as business advice for the industry. I’m subscribed to their weekly maillist and this week they hosted a free webinar by Michelle Fifis (from Pattern Observer) titled: The Importance of Developing Collections (click to listen).

The webinar is a teaser for the Textile Design Lab course (for the module The Sellable Sketch).

The main points I got from the webinar were:

What is a pattern collection?

Every company has a different definition of a collection but in this instance we’re talking about a group of patterns that support each other. It can be between three and seven patterns that all have a consistent theme and colour palette. Typically there will be a main print with coordinating patterns.

Develop a collection so that the buyer can get everything from you.

Make a rounded out collection so that a buyer can buy everything they need from you and doesn’t need to go to someone else. Usually buyers are looking for a number of patterns per season.

Bring focus to your work and helps keep your momentum going as a designer.

Having a collection to show a client adds consistency and a professional image to your work. Once you have the main pattern made it will be easier to develop the rest of the images needed to fill out a collection. The main design will tie the rest of the images together. It will typically have at least five colours and then with the supporting patterns you can play around with a smaller palette. The main pattern should have a complex layout and have lots of details and icons.  You can use a simplified version of the details from the main pattern in the supporting patterns too. However make sure that each pattern can stand alone and be wonderful on its own.

Having unique patterns in a collection makes it more likely that you will get a buyer who makes multiple purchases.

Use different layouts, scales, background colours and textures within the same collection to offer variety so that a buyer who needs different styles will be more likely to buy everything you have. For example you could offer a small, medium and large scale print. Get to know your customer and what type of variety they look for.

Sell the story of your inspiration, how you developed your design

This helps you engage with clients and helps them remember you. People love to hear the stories of the development of your idea and helps them resell your idea to their colleagues or clients.

Sell copyright or licence rights?

Selling copyright to your client means they can do whatever they like with it. Licencing the rights means you still own the copyright but you will work out a contract and get paid royalties. In the apparel market, licensing is rare because it is only for sale for a short time. Copyrighting is becoming more popular across the board for all markets.

Password protected area on website

Have some collections on your site for public but have at least three collections in a password protected/ client area of your site for prospective buyers.

Watch the webinar

There was lots more info in the webinar about how to prepare collections for the different markets so watch it here.


Further Reading:

How to use the live trace tool in Illustrator CS6 to digitise your line drawing

Letterpress course NCAD (Weeks 1-5)

Make Art That Sells Week 1

Make Art That Sells Week 2

Hand Lettering and Design – Workshop with Steve Simpson