The Hidden Potential of Surface Pattern Design for YOU!

It’s funny but until I learned about Surface Pattern Design a few years ago, I had no idea that this entire industry existed. Maybe you’ve never heard of it either. Once you know about it and dive into making your own designs, your whole perspective shifts. You notice patterns EVERYWHERE you look and I want to make sure you realize the vast opportunities that await you in the industry.

Here is a great definition by blogger Shannon McNab: “Surface design is any type of artwork (pattern, illustration, hand lettering, etc.) made by a designer that is intended to be applied to a surface to enhance its visual appearance and/or functionality.” Look around you right now. I bet you’ll see at least six different patterns on everyday objects around you:

·      The carpet under your feet

·      Wallpaper in a room in your house

·      The pattern on your shirt or dress or socks

·      The cover on your notebook or journal

·      Throw pillows on your coach

·      Some or maybe all of your scarves

·      The embroidered fabric on a favorite chair

·      And the list goes on and on and on

The reason I’m so passionate about Surface Pattern Design is because of the many different ways YOU can make money at it. Let’s get specific and dive into three different ways you can make money in the industry.


If you’ve always dreamed of having fabric with your own unique designs on it, this path is for you. Surface designers have the opportunity to get licensed by large companies in the industry. Once you are a licensed designer, you’re under contract with the company and you’ll be required to develop fabric collections either seasonally or multiple times per year, depending on your specific contract. You receive a licensing payment which is generally calculated based on the wholesale sales of your fabric designs. Licensing fees range in the 3-6% range.

Licensing is a great option for artists who love to design in collections, which are a series of coordinated patterns that mix and match and coordinate well together. Creating beautiful and saleable collections is an art in and of itself and there’s nothing like the feeling of seeing your designs come to life on fabric.

Licensing opportunities are also available in other industries including the stationary industry where your collection might include:

· Notebooks

· Notepads

· Stationary

· Greeting cards

· Pencil wrappers

· Paper weights

· Candle holders

· And more

You can license the same design in multiple industries just so long as you carefully structure your contracts to specify each industry separately. There are so many exciting options within the overall category of “licensing”. Here are some photos of wallpaper I’ve seen during my trip to Paris and a beautiful Hermes scarf to inspire you!

Print-on-Demand Sites:

Print-on-demand (POD) sites are online services that allow you to upload your artwork, select products that your designs look beautiful on, and sell those products to the general public. As the designer, you earn a royalty payment based on a percentage of retail sales of your products. POD sites pay around 10% of retail sales but certain sites and product categories may pay more or less than that.

What’s important to understand about POD sites is that you can create your own “shop” to enhance the way your products are shown to the public. You can maintain your branding on these platforms so customers recognize that it’s you.

While 10% of retail sales may not seem like a lot of money, it’s a big advantage to have these companies manufacture and ship on your behalf. They also handle returns and exchanges.  Your job is to keep your shop looking fresh with new seasonal designs. And to drive sales through effective marketing so customers can find your products and make purchases. Here is a sample from my summer favorites collection on Society6.

Selling On Your Own Website:

If you love the idea of owning your own products and having direct contact with your customers, selling directly on your own website might be the right path for you. The advantages here are the contact and connection that you have with your customers. You’ll get all of their contact information in order to ship to them and you can completely control and curate the shopping experience. Just think of the beautiful details you can include in the shipping box such as a personalized note, special tissue paper that you’ve designed, a ribbon in one of your brand colors, along with the items they purchased of course!

In order to manage your inventory investment, start small and focus on developing a small collection of products that you’d like to sell. For example, you might decide that notebooks, mugs, tote bags, wrapping paper and phone cases are popular for your target customer and make great gifts. You’ll need to locate manufacturers who can make your products in small quantities and to your quality specifications.

While selling directly to your customers has many advantages, this approach does involve more moving pieces and you’ll want to manage your inventory investments carefully to avoid having too many products left over at the end of each season. On the flip side, managing your customer’s experience down to how they feel when they open your box of products, can be magical and truly unique.

These are just three examples of how you can earn money from your designs in the Surface Pattern Design industry. There are so many more!

If you’d like to learn about Surface Pattern Design and make earning money from your artwork a reality in your life, sign up for my free LIVE workshop: How to Get Started in Surface Pattern Design.

Here are just a few of the things you’ll learn: 

· The art of transforming your sketches into beautiful repeating patterns

· The secrets behind how to sell your work successfully

· The confidence to pursue your creative dreams knowing what’s possible

Grab your spot. It’s FREE and you don’t want to miss it. Sign up TODAY! Class starts on May 9.


It’s Never Too Late to Create

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Hi…I’m Anne!
My creative inspiration comes from a lifetime of observation living in, and traveling to, beautiful environments in the United States and abroad.


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