pattern design studio and designer at work

What does a surface pattern designer do?

Almost every company from the textile, fashion or stationery industry will sooner or later need to include seamless patterns or placement prints in their offer. Before you start working with a graphic pattern designer, read what you can expect from his skills and tasks, and what to keep in mind in your communication.

Although the demand for fashion and fabric prints is constantly growing, the work of a graphic pattern designer is not yet precisely defined. Fashion companies, producing textiles or stationery, look for designers to cooperate in various ways and often have very different expectations. I am a certified textile and surface designer with extensive experience in working for both large and small companies. In this article, I will share with you the detailed knowledge of my profession. If you run a company from the textile, interior or paper industry - you will find in this article many important tips on cooperation with a graphic pattern designer. If you are a graphic designer looking for your way in the surface pattern design profession, this post will help you to set a clear direction for professional development. 3.. 2..1.. 3.. 2..1 .. Let's go!

Where to find a pattern designer?

The so-called surface pattern design, i.e. designing seamless graphic patterns dedicated for various types of surfaces, is a profession that applies to many industries. Graphic designs are now inherent in the textile industry and many other commercial sectors, such as apparel, fabric, interior products, wallpaper, greeting cards and gift paper. Regardless of whether you are planning - a large patterned clothing collection or the prints are only to be a delicate accent in your entire assortment, it is worth bearing in mind what you can expect from a professional graphic designer. Once you have an idea for your product or just want to consult a specialist, it's time to start looking.

Graphic designers of clothing, textile and other utility surfaces are often difficult to find, because not everyone has an easily accessible and professionally presented portfolio. Most artists show their work on social media, which allows direct and quick contact with a potential client, as well as gathering opinions about their works from a wider audience. A much smaller group of designers has its own professional online studio, which allows you to streamline the process of purchasing projects and communication, as well as a convenient and quick overview of the graphic offer. At Studio Mona Tomassi, you can easily buy ready-made graphic designs, find all the important information about individual cooperation and efficiently get a quote for a personalized project.

graphic designer while working in the studio
The process of creating graphic patterns in the Mona Tomassi Studio.

It is not always an easy task to find such a website using an internet search engine, so it is best to start browsing the web with Instagram, which is filled with interesting graphic suggestions. In such a situation, it is best to use hashtags related to the field of textile design and pattern design. Even if you are not interested in printing on fabrics, but rather on ceramics or wallpapers, you will certainly find the right specialist in this way as well. Pinterest and Facebook can also play a similar role as Instagram, which are also a great sources when it comes to potential networking and searching for inspiration. On my Instagram profile @mona.textiledesign you will find both, a presentation of the current offer and the projects completed so far. First of all, it is a space that shows the process of my creative work and close-ups on illustrations. This is a very important element of the designer's social network - the presentation of a unique creative process. An insight into the creation of an artist's works will allow you to quickly assess whether you aesthetically understand each other.

Regardless of whether you are looking for ready-made designs or you want to create a unique seamless pattern from scratch, only for your company, think first of all about how your collection should look like. What style of painting will look best on your products and what colors will suit your customers. Even if your vision is not fully specified yet - a good designer will advise you on what to pay attention to and tell you what to follow in the selection of topics and current trends, as well as in determining the unique identity of your brand. When you order an exclusive design at Studio Mona Tomassi, you will also receive a set of personalized advice tailored to your type of business and your products. I follow fashion, children's and textile trends as well as current offers of companies from these sectors. Thanks to this, you can count on a professional approach to the ideas proposed on your part. Write to me to discuss the details of cooperation or see my online store with ready-to-download non-exclusive license pattern designs, divided into four categories for easy navigation.

Education of a graphic pattern designer

The print designer should not only impress with his artworks and be familiar with the current trends, but also have extensive technical knowledge. Depending on whether you are looking for a one-time cooperation or you want to hire a graphic designer for a longer period, the scope of his industry knowledge will be important to you. Few of the pattern designers complete their studies in this field, among other things because these specializations are difficult to access. Most artists acquire their knowledge in online courses and in practice. All of these routes are valuable if, of course, you are dealing with an experienced graphic designer with a rich portfolio. I had the opportunity to gain specialist knowledge in this area during my master studies in the field of fabric and surface design at the branch of the Italian school Istituto Europeo di Design in Madrid. Professional education gave me the opportunity to see many directions and opportunities in the field of textile design and allowed me to make the right choice related to my further career path. I have acquired a wide technical knowledge of applying prints to fabrics, ceramics and other surfaces, which I use on a daily basis working with smaller and larger companies, and the scope of their needs is very diverse. They differ in the work system, the desired painting technique, the use of appropriate graphic programs, as well as the technical requirements for the printing itself. A pattern designer may specialize in only one industry niche or have extensive specialist knowledge. Depending on the designer you are looking for, ask about these aspects at the beginning of cooperation. While working in a large fashion company, I was able to use the knowledge of adapting projects to traditional printing, such as screen printing or rotary printing (cylindric printing). However, while carrying out orders for smaller local companies, I was able to create projects adapted to digital printing, which is now very in fashion. Learn more about how to prepare a graphic pattern file for printing from my post: How to choose graphics for printing on fabrics?

Portfolio and experience

Although it is impossible to post all the relevant information about your work on social media, the posts with photos of illustrations will tell you a lot about the possibilities of a specific designer. It is also worth checking the designer's professional portfolio on his website, where you can usually find a more complete presentation of his achievements than in social media. The portfolio will show, among other things, the scope of cooperation with other brands and the scale of the designer's experience in your and other industry sectors.. When looking for a designer, consider what requirements should be met by his portfolio and the way he works. Some artists focus on one style, choosing a narrow target audience and an aesthetic specialization, for example illustrations exclusively for toddlers or floral motifs for women's clothing. The advantage of this way of designing is that when you find the right person whose style suits you very well and fits perfectly with your brand and target group, there is nothing else to do but agree on the price and start working. The downside of this type of approach is, above all, the lack of flexibility in adapting to your needs and changing trends. Therefore, when choosing a designer, pay attention to his possibilities in creating graphic patterns and illustrations that correspond to your aesthetics, and are not limited by the one-sided vision of the designer or one type of preferred motifs.

designing custom graphic patterns creative process
Creating a graphic pattern consists of several important stages, which you will read about in the second part of the article.

A well-prepared print design should be a result of the knowledge, skills and style of the designer as well as the aesthetic and thematic assumptions of your company, the taste of your customers, and the technical determinants of the printing house. When ordering an exclusive design, every detail of the seamless graphic pattern may be important to you and an experienced designer will know how to adapt his graphics to meet even the most precise requirements. In my Studio you can order exclusive patterns that we will create together from scratch or adapt ready-to-download patterns from my online store to your needs.

Before contacting me - let's get to know each other, I invite you to check out my portfolio, which I regularly update. There you will find projects implemented for both small and large brands, intended for various types of surfaces. I have worked with both fashion companies and those producing fabrics, bedding and accessories for children. I have experience in designing prints on textiles, paper and ceramics, both for digital printing, sublimation printing, and traditional printing techniques such as flat and rotary screen printing.

Ordering a seamless pattern design - stages of cooperation

The graphic designer should skillfully implement your project concept and at the same time be able to propose his own solutions. When you come with a ready idea and a head full of beautiful inspirations, it is great to verify them by the designer. When you choose a specialist in your field to work with, you should be able to rely on their knowledge and advice. The final decision always belongs to you, and the verdict - of course, to your clients. However, with so many different factors that should be taken into account when designing or selecting a pattern, it is worth joining forces and creating an action plan together with the designer.

A new project should therefore start with establishing a concept, which should include several important steps during which the designer can demonstrate his knowledge:

  • choice of theme - flowers, animal print, or maybe something more original?
  • choosing a license - this is a topic that should also be raised at the very beginning of the talks
  • analysis of trends, inspiration and selection of a color palette

After that, the designer can start creating the seamless pattern, and this process consists of two important parts:

  • creating hand-painted elements of a pattern or choosing a different technique, e.g. vector design or drawing on a tablet
  • construction of a seamless graphic pattern or a placement print in a graphic program such as Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator or Corel Draw.

Let's take a closer look at all the mentioned points.

License selection

The first question a designer might ask you will be about the type of license. Each artist has their own way of working and licensing, but there are also popular standards - you can buy a selected pattern or illustration under an exclusive or non-exclusive license. A project purchased in my online store for a non-exclusive commercial license is characterized by an attractive price in relation to the offered quality and market standards. You can use such a design without time and territorial limitations up to the specified production limit, described in the License of the website. You do not acquire the copyright to the design and it can be purchased multiple times. If you are looking for something unique, tailored to the needs of your brand, you can order an exclusive license design from me for a period of 2 years. Then, for the time indicated, the design belongs to you and no one else can use it, and the license can then be renewed. If the budget does not allow you to buy your own collection of patterns, the Mona Tomassi Studio offer also includes a service of customizing the graphics without exclusivity to your needs - changing the composition, colors of elements, etc.

monatomassi graphic patterns online shop offer
Non-exclusive license projects can be found in my online store.

Choice of topic

Graphic elements that will be on your fabrics, clothing, ceramics or wallpapers will largely determine the final reception of the entire product. That is why the process of selecting a graphic design is such an important factor influencing the sales and identity of your brand. The subject of the art project should not only be in trends, but also reflect the goals of your company, present what is important for your brand and to whom its products are intended. A graphic pattern well suited to your needs can emphasize the unique features of your company, for example where it comes from, or what materials are used to create products. For example, for local producers who want to be associated with their region, it may be a good idea to take inspiration from their local nature and culture. Choosing the theme of the graphic design should always start with an analysis of your target group.

Therefore, before you ask a designer about an interesting idea for a print, it is worth having a carefully thought-out group of your customers. One brand is unequal to the other, despite the fact that the scope of their activity is in the same industry, for example, children's textiles. Therefore, before you ask a designer about an interesting idea for printing, it is worth having a carefully thought-out group of your recipients. In case of the children's industry, the age of children and the related aesthetic preferences should be taken into account, as well as the tastes of a specific group of parents who, for example, prefer the boho style in interior design, and your children's bedding or other interior accessories should follow this trend. Patterns can be more decorative or educational, for example showing the location of continents on a world map along with the characteristic species of animals that occur on them. Think about what your customers expect and verify your ideas with an experienced pattern designer.


Analyzing industry trends seems like a simple task when working for a large fashion company. Usually, it is done by several people at once, while using professional trend forecasting platforms. Jednak zarówno duże, jak i mniejsze firmy muszą odnosić się do bieżących realiów rynku i zwracać uwagę na to, które trendy faktycznie zostały zasymilowane wśród ich klientów, co szczególnie przypada im do gustu, skąd pochodzą i jakie mają potrzeby zakupowe.

One of the ways to forecast trends is to keep up-to-date with new releases in international brands in your field, for example in the field of clothing or interior design. And I mean not only the observation of trends online, but also in physical stores, because, among other things, the way of presenting the best-selling products is a valuable indicator of the popularity of the selected topic of graphic patterns. Internet searches, in turn, are especially valuable when it comes to smaller foreign brands, whose stores we cannot see in person. Opening up to original solutions combined with knowledge of market standards often brings great results. Watching your direct competition is also an important factor in planning your collection, but not so much to look for inspiration as to come to conclusions - how do I want to distinguish my brand and what new can I offer my customers?

Painting process

Creating pattern elements is an individual matter for each designer, both in terms of working time and his individual style. Depending on the chosen technique and the complexity of the illustration, the time to create the elements of the graphic pattern may differ slightly. Certainly, however, a professional graphic pattern designer will be able to provide you with specific execution time and be able to adapt to your guidelines and aesthetic determinants. Most often, a manual illustration is preceded by a sketch, it is the perfect moment to introduce any changes in the construction of the features of specific elements. For example, if a design intended for a baby products store is to tell a story about pandas eating bamboo leaves all day, then it should consist of several animals placed in different poses. Placed in such a way that it is not boring for the final customer, which is a child, but that at the same time maintains a consistent theme and colors. In this case, it is worth drawing up sketches of panda bears first to be able to imagine how they will fit together in the final composition. It is important to be able to adapt graphic designs to the individual needs of your brand.

At Mona Tomassi Studio, you have the option of ordering a personalized design, prepared taking into account the analysis of your brand's goals, as well as you can buy a ready-made pattern and then order a service of adapting it to your needs, for example by changing the color of elements or the composition. Most of my offer is based on hand-painted elements using the watercolor technique and pencil sketch. Projects created in this way give the final products lightness and universal character, as well as evoke positive emotions and subtle aesthetics.

Seamless pattern

Composing patterns in graphic programs is the final part of the designer's work and the duration of this stage also depends on the complexity of the pattern composition. Tiny flower patterns require an intricate arrangement of small elements, while the thick foliage in which tropical animals hide means spending more time creating the impression of a natural arrangement of plants and the depths of a tropical forest. Each project is different, so it is worth settling all details at the very beginning of cooperation.

There are many techniques for composing reports with graphic patterns, but their most important common feature is always one basic rule - that the repetition of the report should not be visible. The final recipient of the printed product should not immediately notice the repetition of the elements, but focus on the beauty of the illustration and the story it contains.

However, before the illustrations can be arranged into interesting combinations, the first important activity immediately after creating a manual illustration is scanning. Of course, this stage does not apply to graphic designers who do not create hand-painted designs, but for example paint on a tablet or in vector illustration programs. However, if you want your products to be decorated with hand-made drawings or watercolors, then the scanning stage will also be an important factor for you. A good quality scan of illustrations will make the paintings look almost like transferred from the paper to the surface of your products. They will have vivid colors and texture.

Scale, color and composition

Besides the basic artistic skill of a graphic pattern designer of illustrating, the most important factors in determining the quality of your print are scale, color and composition. The effect of fluent repetition of the elements mentioned in the above paragraph can be achieved not only by the appropriate distribution of the pattern elements, but also by manipulating their color and scale. Therefore, a very important step in planning a collection of graphic prints is to carefully determine the color palette before illustrating. Of course, the colors can be adjusted in the graphics program, but the arrangement of color accents is one of the design decisions that should be planned before painting.

watercolor illustration in peonies transferred to the fabric
The colors and scale of elements can be adjusted in the graphics program.

Think how the graphic pattern will function in your collection. Will it be its protagonist and will it appear on almost every product? Or maybe it will only complement it? The answers to these questions will help you determine the appropriate color palette, or at least its initial outline, which will help the pattern designer create a print perfectly suited to your brand. When choosing colors, take into account all accompanying elements of your product in relation to the printed areas. One-color products should be reflected in those decorated with graphic patterns, even in the form of a delicate color accent. If you offer women's clothing, it will be important to match the print design with plain-colored garments, such as a patterned shirt with plain trousers. A similar principle can be applied to interior accessories, while the distinguishing feature of a fabric store will be a wide range of colors and themes of graphic designs.

The scale of the illustrations will also have a huge impact on the perception of the final product. The same floral pattern in large dimensions placed on a long dress will give it a classic summer character. On the other hand, the use of the same floral elements in a mini scale will make the dress retro-style and fit into the trends of vintage clothing.

Does your company need a pattern designer?

Any company whose activity is related to the production of fabrics, clothing, bedding, wallpapers, ceramics or stationery accessories will meet the need to cooperate with a graphic print designer. Niezależnie, czy potrzebujesz miejscowego nadruku, czy powtarzalnego wzoru, delikatnych deseni, czy skomplikowanych ilustracji - będziesz potrzebować wsparcia grafika w tym zakresie. Large companies employ printing artists on a permanent basis. In this way, the graphic designer can be in direct contact with the fashion designer and fashion buyer and to react rapidly changing decisions. His task is then to create as many designs as possible in the shortest possible time, so that the company has the opportunity to produce as many different products as possible in accordance with the assumptions for a specific season. Medium and small companies, on the other hand, most often decide not to sign a permanent contract with a graphic designer due to the more sporadic nature of introducing new products to the collection. Then, collections can often be planned calmly, with attention to the smallest detail and preceding the creative process with a thorough analysis of product goals. If you have any doubts about the work of a pattern designer that are not included in this article, feel free to leave a comment under the article or contact me directly via e-mail or contact form.

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