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New Year New Portfolio

Each new year a designer needs an updated portfolio of images. Surface Pattern Designers aren’t JUST creating for the immediate new year but in fact for the year after! Many designs are bought 12 -18 months in advance. Every designer needs a new portfolio practically every year - but the biggest problem an illustrator faces is thinking of the ideas!


Why is a new portfolio necessary?

It is estimated that a Studio or agent showing at one of the big trade shows, such as Surtex or Blue Print, will need a minimum of 50 presentation sheets from each represented artist, the more the better. Often, a substantial number of these will be seasonal designs, especially Christmas, as it is such a big market in the Surface Pattern world. Designing for Christmas happens throughout the year believe it or not. Even if you aren’t under the umbrella of a studio or agent, it’s always relevant to keep one or two festive pieces available in your portfolio.


What should my portfolio contain?

If you are a Surface Pattern Designer looking to have a varied portfolio available for license or outright artwork sale, you need plenty of collections to show potential buyers. If your design is sold OUTRIGHT not licensed, then individual motifs contained within these designs cannot be used again either. So, it’s essential to get lots of ideas under your belt along similar themes.

Themed areas within your portfolio could contain cute characters, seasonal, conversational designs (the description for all patterns which have objects in but not necessarily characters), florals, geometrics, and so on. It is helpful to show a recognition of what is on trend, even if only loosely. If you can do characters too it opens especially well to children’s apparel design. Your design style might not suit all these areas, but it IS important to support a variety of themes in your portfolio.


What should be on a presentation sheet?

A portfolio for a trade show contains many presentation sheets, which can be laid flat and easily sifted through. Each presentation sheet shows a mini collection - involving a minimum of 3 designs: one hero print - or main print - and 2 secondary designs. These can either be 2 coordinate patterns, or a placement print and a border design. Each design will connect with the hero print and will generally involve similar colours and motifs (the pattern images). On secondary patterns, the elements will often be simplified or rearranged in a different repeat style.


What is the different between a placement and a repeat print?

If you’re new to surface pattern design and want to know the difference, a placement print – or engineered print -is the controlled position of an artwork within a product - often at a specific scale. A repeat print features continuous tiling of an artwork within a product. An example of a placement print could be a stand-alone design on a child’s tee-shirt.


What are Coordinate patterns?

Coordinate patterns are simpler patterns which complement more complicated ones. It’s important your presentation sheets contain a range of complementing designs for a well-rounded portfolio. It adds value for potential buyers. It also shows you understand pattern mixing; thinking about how different patterns can work together harmoniously.


What are the basic expectations for a trade show portfolio?

Presentation sheets for the client work well at A3. Consistency in presentation is obviously a given! And placement designs are as sought after as repeat patterns. Some placements which include typography are also popular. If you have a title for the collection include this, as well as a swatch of the colours involved. If you have a logo, keep it clear but not dominant on the sheet.

So how do I think of new ideas?

I find it useful and beneficial to join in with others in the online illustration community. The connection with others – who also need a new year portfolio boost – can motivate, inspire and make you more focused when creating. The supportive atmosphere of other designers online is amazing. I recommend regularly joining in with challenges and competitions and teaming up with others to follow a set of illustration prompts. Your online community can keep you on track and inspire you to try something new!


Do you need an ideas boost?

If you find yourself needing extra inspiration to jazz up your portfolio this year, with new themes and ideas, I have the perfect solution: a DAILY, relevant prompt! In my new illustration challenge I’m offering 31 ideas a month. Why not follow the progress of myself and others on Instagram? #DrawDailyWithBryony

The illustration prompts will vary from popular trends to conversational keywords, animal ideas to pattern themes and more.


Sign up to follow me today and get your 1st Daily Prompt sheet posted for the New Year!

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