Back to School
Explorations in Textiles & Pattern Design
Hi 🤎 — hope everyone is hanging in there.
This week I thought I’d share a bit more on my experience taking classes as I continue to delve into the world of textiles and pattern design.
I began by checking out the continuing education programs at some of the top design schools. Another gift of the pandemic, it seemed — so many remote options!
My first find was a textiles course at Parsons. Learning about cloths and fibers and how it’s all made — I didn’t really know what to expect, but I figured it would all be interesting and foundational.
Then I set about looking into how to actually design patterns. At first I was searching for print-making, but learned this term means something slightly different; it’s just one methodology of creating patterns. I eventually Googled my way to “surface pattern design” as the correct terminology.
Surface pattern design, or surface design, refers to the creation of a pattern, which typically involves creating artwork by drawing or painting, either by hand or digitally, and then using a tool like Photoshop or Illustrator to make adjustments and “repeat” the design to form the pattern. Surface pattern exists on nearly everything around you, from clothing to bedding to rugs to stationary.
I was a nervous about the surface design class because I don’t consider myself to be much of a drawer. In my head I figured I’d ultimately want to hire or work with a designer with the technical skills and experience I lack, but still I figured it would be good to learn the process — and to see what I could come up with myself.
One of the things that struck me as I progressed through these courses was how cool it is that today we can learn literally anything, most of it for free, on the internet. Like, even these top design programs were pointing to a lot of YouTube videos for demos and instruction. Of course the classes offer benefits, like organizing the course properly with the right content so you don’t have to do any guesswork, having a teacher to whom you can ask questions, and the camaraderie of learning with other students. But if you either didn’t have the budget for this or simply wanted to learn on your own, there is so much great information online.
One thing you could do is search for the courses you are interested in at some of the top schools, and then use their syllabuses as an outline for your own research. Many also list the textbooks required for the class, so you can easily buy the book and use it for your own studies. I found some great books when I was poking around looking at writing courses throughout the pandemic.
Now that my classes have ended, I am planning to continue self-learning with more online tutorials using platforms like Skillshare and Creative Live. I have so much learning/practicing/designing to do, especially when it comes to using tools like Photoshop and Illustrator, which were completely new to me.
First, though, we are off to Paris — should be knee-deep in pastries by the time you’re reading this. First trip across seas for Miss V! Wish us luck. She’s been a great little flyer so I’m not too worried. We’ll be in France for two weeks, mostly in Paris and then to a dear friend’s wedding in Provence. The wedding was the reason for the trip, but then Jared’s client invited him to Paris the week before, so it made sense to make a trip out of it.
It will be a brilliant pause after these classes, a moment to stop and celebrate how much I’ve learned and grown and come along. Not to mention, to soak up all of the beauty and design inspiration. Jared will be working as usual, so it will be just Violet and I exploring the city together each day — so yeah, pretty much a dream come true.
(Please send me your Paris recs if you have them!)
Yes, it’s good to stop and take this moment in. A habit that doesn’t come naturally to my go-go-go personality. Working on that! Having Violet has helped.
Because it seems the back-to-school bug is still with me. Maybe an interior design class is in my future…
Read on for more on my experience this semester, including a peek at some of my first designs.