I’m thrilled to be included in Uppercase magazine’s Work/Life 3 illustration annual, which is out now! I’m a big fan of Uppercase and if you’re an artist / designer / creative / maker type, then you’ll love it too. I saw last year’s issue and thought it was fabulous, so I applied for this edition and was so happy to be included. Artists are interviewed and are then given a brief based on that — for me, my brief was to use my love of baking to create a new series called ‘Home Sweet Home’. And the images below are what I came up with. I don’t get to bake as often as I’d like these days, but it’s a real passion of mine. And I love all the beautiful ingredients and tools and vessels you get to work with.
Always a good exercise to work to a brief. Up until a few months ago, my work was all self-directed. But more and more, I’m getting brief-based work and it really forces you to shake things up and push yourself past your comfort zone! I’m happy with how these turned out, and you’ll see one of them on greeting cards for Madison Park Greetings one day soon!
This summer was an incredible time for me for new opportunities — I could see my business growing and it was amazing and thrilling and fulfilling. I had been so busy working on brief-based assignments that I hadn’t had a lot of time for self-directed work. And to be clear, I am 100% aware of what an amazing problem to have. It’s kind of insane.
So I hadn’t been finding a whole lot of time to just play around and doodle and assemble patterns purely for fun, for myself, self-directed. After finishing up a few projects, I was super excited to dive in and just let the ideas pour out of me. For the past year, I’ve had my head down developing new work morning, noon and night in preparation for Surtex — I’ve been in such a groove. So I sat down and put pen to paper and… nothing. I tried to employ a few of my tricks to kickstart things. (Walk away and come back with fresh eyes. Get away from the computer. Look at other work that inspires me. Go buy some flowers. Change my scenery.) But nothing was working, and I was getting increasingly frustrated with myself.
After having some successes (small to some, huge to me), I now realize that I had really started to psych myself out. I started to think maybe that was all just a fluke. Maybe I was just channeling some limited-time-only creative kick and now my window is over. Maybe I’m a one-trick pony. It was really getting in my head. Ultimately what happened was that I had to try and turn my inner business lady off and realize why I’m doing what I’m doing. It may seem silly to some, but I absolutely love patterns. I am passionate about them and have been my whole life and when I discovered that I loved creating them myself, it was like a light was turned on inside me. After throwing myself into the business side of things, I was getting distracted from the thing that mattered the most — I needed to stop thinking about the future, about success, about what my next moves are, and remember that this is just what I love to do.
The other important lesson that I learned is that creativity is a fire that must be stoked. If you keep it up, keep the coals hot, you can hop back in and start one up so easily. But if you neglect it and let it go out, it’s a whole lot more work to get back to where you were. So keep those fires stoked! And I hope you enjoy my newest collection (more coming soon!). Thanks for reading!
Hello! It’s been a while since I’ve done a post… I haven’t been sharing a whole lot lately, for a few reasons. First, I’m happy to report that I have been swamped with amazing projects (if you had told me that I would be paying my rent with patterns a year ago, or even a few months ago, I never would have believed it, so I’m thrilled). Most of this work has been commission-based, and the type of work that I have to hold close until it’s in the market, so no sharing allowed. And secondly, I’ve been trying to figure out my stance on sharing since Surtex.
When I was at Surtex, a dream client came to my booth and was interested in one of my patterns, for the kind of product that made me want to jump up and down, and they even followed-up after the show with a contract. I was ecstatic. But after reading through the contract, I noticed a clause stating that the artwork could never have entered the public forum. My stomach dropped when I realized that I’d used the image for self-promotion for Surtex, and in the end, we couldn’t move ahead with that pattern, which was a huge bummer. The good news is that the door stayed open, and I worked on a commission for them in the end (more on that when the time comes)!
But this brought up an issue I had only considered in passing: whether to share, or not to share, new work. It’s a tricky one. As someone that’s relatively new to this industry, my whole goal for the past year has been to get exposure, to get my work out into the world, to get my name out there. I wanted people to know what I would be showing at Surtex, so I had to promote my work. I’ve had a few emails from other designers asking my opinion on this too… whether a manufacturer is less likely to license artwork if it’s been ‘seen’ before. And after much consideration, all I can really say is that there is no firm answer. Of course, you should never show work that is being commissioned, but for new work that’s available for licensing, how is the world going to know it’s there if you can’t show it? How is the world going to know about you if you can’t put yourself out there?
So, after all of this, I’ve decided that for the time being, I’m going to continue to promote and share my work, but perhaps just a little less than before. For that one lost opportunity, I’ve gained many more by having my work online. What are your thoughts on sharing work?
With this, I will leave you with a few new pieces that I’ve been working on lately that I’m at liberty to share, and know that I will have more exciting things to share in the months ahead! Thanks for reading!
The answer is 13. THIRTEEN SLEEPS! It’s been a while since I’ve written a post — forgive me — but I’ve been completely absorbed in my Surtex preparations and all of the many facets of it, and I’m so excited for the show. What an adventure! One thing that I’ve noticed about myself as I grow older, is that I’m way more organized than my mind would lead me to believe. Since I registered for the show, my mind has been a constant flurry of new pattern ideas, obsessive worries about not doing enough or working hard enough, daydreams, budget planning concerns, logistics coordination and the seemingly endless list of to-dos that must be done for the show. At points my nerves were just frazzled, and there were points when my mind had trouble entering a state of calm. It really required a lot of juggling, but looking back, with the show within reach, I can’t believe how many to-dos I’ve crossed off my list and I guess I surprised myself. While I often felt like I was in a state of chaos, I was moving forward every day and I think I’ve realized that I just might be good at this business thing after all. I can’t help but feel like planning a wedding would be a piece of cake after this boot camp. With less than two weeks to go till the show, I’m certainly filled with all sorts of emotions but if I had to select a single phrase that would capture how I’m feeling right now it would be this: BRING IT.
I’ve had some amazing support along the way, the help of my amazing friends and tons of you lovely folks cheering me along from the internet sidelines. And I’m thrilled that two of my very best friends are coming to New York with me, so I know I’ll have a good support network when I inevitably have doubts creep into my mind when I see all of the beautiful artwork unveiled by other super talented exhibitors. But everyone has something different to offer, and I’ve been so pleased to find that this community is so supportive, friendly and encouraging.
I shouldn’t have waiting so long to write a post — I feel like I could write a novel — but for now I’ll leave you with some of the patterns I’ve been working on for Surtex. And any help in getting the word out is so very, very welcome and appreciated. Thanks everyone. Cross your fingers for me!
HELLO! I hope that spring is springing wherever you are and that you’re starting to feel yourself coming back to life after a long grey winter. I’ve been busy busy prepping for Surtex, which is only — gasp — 65 days away!! It’s going to be here in no time. Preparing for Surtex has really been one of the most fun projects I’ve ever been able to work on. I’ve been putting in a lot of hours but it just doesn’t feel like work because I love love love what I’m doing and I have big hopes and currently, an abundant amount of optimism, and that’s all very motivating. I feel like I’ve made it to the final of Project Runway and I’m putting together my collection… except that I will be competing for business with hundreds of other folks, but let’s focus on the positive, shall we?
After weeks of obsessing about my booth, I’ve finally put the finishing touches on the design and I’m super happy with it. I toyed with a ton of concepts, designs, themes… but in the end, I settled on something that puts my patterns first and I feel will immediately tell people what I do. And hopefully lure them in to see the rest of my work.
Getting ready for Surtex is a multi-faceted task and there will never ever be enough time to do everything I want to do, but I’m making progress. It’s a balancing act between developing new work (patterns!), planning the presentation (booth design! samples! product mockups! postcard giveaways!) and getting people interested (press kits! researching buyers! marketing! tweets! spending way too much time on linkedin! sending emails! following up! putting yourself out there!) which I think is the hardest part. But what’s the point of planning beautifully if nobody knows about it? Luckily I’ve had some really amazing folks in my corner helping me work through things. If you’re reading this, you know who you are and I’m soooo thankful!
I’ve got some new collections in the works and thought I’d share one of my faces here. I like to post quick pics of some of them on my instagram (elizabetholwenxo) and my new obsession, Vine (elizabeth olwen) — so if we’re not connected yet, add me!
Hope everyone has a fabulous weekend and thanks for reading!
Hello lovelies! It’s been a few weeks since I’ve posted, I’ve been busy preparing for Surtex, and working on fun new things that I’ve never had to do before. So everything is fresh and exciting, and truthfully at times, overwhelming… but in a good way. I feel like I’m climbing a small mountain but when I get to the top I’m going to do a little victory dance — okay, maybe it will be a big over-the-top victory dance. My top priority right now is making connections with buyers who might be attending the show, and while I feel like it requires a certain level of telepathy in trying to figure out who might be going, I’m feeling great about it and I’m making new connections all the time. I’ve also been so very lucky to connect with a few seasoned Surtex veterans who’ve given me some amazing advice. As a result, I’ve had some great interest in my work from some really great companies. Life is good!
And when all the administrative work is done, I do what I love to do, which is the point of this whole thing. I’ve been making more patterns. Thought I would share a few new ones that I’ve been working on, and there so many more in the works!
Hope you’ve all made it through February unscathed… spring is just around the corner, I can feel it!
It’s no secret that I adore wallpaper. Always have, always will. So as a pattern designer, it’s been an absolute dream to eventually have my patterns printed on wallpaper. So, when I started talking to Wallpapered.com this past fall about a partnership, I was absolutely over the moon and it’s been a true challenge trying to keep this on the down low. I’m thrilled to announce that it’s now official — Wallpapered.com is now offering a range of wallpapers with my patterns! Ahhhhhh! The collaboration includes a handful of wallpapers along with a few custom mural designs, as shown below. A million thank yous to Wallpapered, and a special shout out to Kat Truong, for making all of this happen! This is an absolute dream come true!
Happy Monday! Hope you all had a fabulous weekend. The weather in Toronto this weekend was UNREAL and felt just like spring at 14 degrees celcius. Spring is still months away but it was a nice break from slush. I’ll take it!
A while back, I saw this great post DesignSponge about an adorable little candy shoppe in San Francisco named Miette (check it out, it’s irresistibly lovely). And ever since I’ve had candy shoppes on my mind, so naturally I thought I’d let this be a driving force behind a new pattern series inspired by old fashioned candy shoppes where you bought candy by the scoop, vintage packaging, lollipops and bon bons. A nice mix of novelty and geometric prints, I think these patterns would look adorable for fabrics for kids clothes.
If you’d taken a look at the pattern work I was doing about a year ago, it would have been largely geometric… But over the past year my style has really started morphing and becoming much more organic in style. Over the past few weeks I’ve been reviewing my collections and trying to determine a plan of attack for rounding out my collections, filling voids and ensuring I have a balanced body of work on offer. What a strange turn of events to find that what I’m lacking are geometrics. Here are some folk-inspired geometrics I’ve been working on! I could see these being lovely for a baby’s room.
As most of us freelancers do, I spend most of my days tied to my laptop. And at the end of that day, when my work is done and it’s time to play and draw and have fun with shapes, the last thing that I want to do is sit back down at my computer to do it. So during my late night doodling time, when I work best, I would step away, grab a pen and my sketchpad, and draw by hand. And this is awesome. Until I see the piles and piles of sketches I’ve accumulated and have to figure out a way to turn them into beautiful, editable, digital artwork — which usually results in way more computer time, redrawing things with my tablet.
So I was absolutely delighted when iDiscovered there is a solution! And it’s called… an iPad. It was a huge splurge but so far, this smart little gadget is changing the way I work on patterns. I bought a stylus pen and an app called Inkpad (which is a lot like Illustrator) and I’ve been doodling away, away from the computer, but my sketches are done digitally and are therefore completely usable and editable and is making me about a million times more productive!
Here are a few patterns that I created using elements I handdrew onto my iPad.