This week’s Spoonflower contest has been fun, and I got carried away creating different designs. With a set colour palette to adhere to, and a theme of ‘Winter Mod’, I’ve summoned up a 60s vibe, have 6 possibilities, and can’t decide which! There are 3 ogee baubles, 2 abstract lights, and one Miro-inspired jumble of illustrations. What one wins?

Scattered Thoughts

I couldn’t settle on a clear process today. The brief was to create a repeat pattern on the theme of “farm to table”. To get into the flow, I started on a fruity still life. It wasn’t really happening, despite a few switches in style and method, so I got onto Illustrator and worked on some vector images. I like the eggcups and the ogee design, but still it didn’t really say local produce to me. Finally I used my Wacom tablet to draw some seasonal fruit & veg and settled on a multi directional toss. I suppose a salad would’ve been better to toss but there you go.

Digital over traditional

Ooh, I love doing Lino cuts! The latest Spoonflower tea towel challenge is Botanical Block Prints. So I drew some culinary herbs in my sketchbook, traced them onto transparent polymer, coloured the areas to cut with a black pen, and started with the knife. I even have a special cutting board with edges to help avoid slicing into my hand as I carve. Fully prepared! A few outlines in and I remember why I haven’t done this in years. It’s minutes before your hands start to cramp up and the whole process takes forever.

I abandoned this approach while I still had some enthusiasm for it and set to faking it in Illustrator instead. A few partially erased strokes and grunge textures later and I had in an hour what might’ve taken all day. I’m happy with this. I decided against a stand-alone design, preferring to have a repeat pattern available for dressmaking and home decor, not just tea towels.


Endless variations

What I really enjoy, once I’ve completed a design, is trying out numerous styles of repeat, and loads of different colour ways. I can lose hours in umpteen permutations. It might not be the most economical use of my time, but it’s therapeutic and I chalk it up as a chance for my subconscious to work through new ideas.

The next two weeks’ tea towel contests at Spoonflower have led to some repeat pattern coordinates I’m quite pleased with. The pattern types include a toss, half-drop, dot, and stripe.*

Instead of habitually applying a single illustrative element to multiple arrangements, I want to apply more effort to generating strong sets of coordinates: a complex lead design supported by significantly different patterns – (e.g. ditsy/bold abstract/spot/stripe) at contrasting scales and with a connected palette.


*If you clicked through from Twitter, this is a slider of a dozen images (not immediately obvious).

Work in Progress

While all my devices were chugging through the latest OS updates, I doodled some type in my sketchbook. It’s the ingredients for gingerbread, which are eventually going to feature on a recipe teatowel design for Spoonflower. The month of October is all teatowels. I’m still trying to master layout for this format —it’s a bit like poster design— so perhaps 4 weeks of dedicated attention will speed my development.


The Point

This week’s competition topic at Spoonflower is simply ‘Pointillism’. I went for a punny approach – you can see all the entries and vote for any you like here.


Kawaii Sushi Top 25

I was voted 18th out of 197 entries in this week’s Spoonflower contest. I was surprised by my design’s popularity as I was up against some strong competition and this is not a style I’d normally choose to work in. I think the brush pen from Japan I used (a gift from my husband’s boss) must have imparted some Kawaii quality! There’s usually an interesting result when I’m taken out of my comfort zone.


Putting myself out there

Part portfolio and part record of my creative development, I’ve set up this space to show you what I have and where I’m going with it. However frequently or infrequently I post, I hope to maintain a sense of my process and my output.

I expect to share links to inspiring websites and blogs; recommend resources; reveal works in progress; and promote completed projects.

While preparing this website, I’ve made use of some very useful free mockup files, the best of which came from Covervault – a really cleanly-designed and easy to use set of mockups. I’m going to see if I can persuade my employer to buy CoverAction Pro as I could do with the magazine mockups, and am confident the quality is worth the price (so much valuable time saved).

Please let me know what you think of my pages so far. This will evolve constantly as I produce new work, and as I learn how to get the best out of WordPress.

If you need to know what I look like, this portrait by my son is more accurate than any photo.