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Journal

Filtering by Category: Surface Pattern Design

Surface Pattern Design :: How and Where do I get started?

elena wilken

Over the last couple of weeks I received a handful of messages on Instagram from fellow designers, asking questions on the same subject:

“How/where do I get started in surface pattern design?”


So I thought I would write a blog post and tell you all about it! :) Well, all I know about it :)
And the timing is perfect!

It can be a vast question and I am no authority on it, but I can share where I started, and point you to the experts I turned to get here. I hope you find this helpful!

Surface pattern designs are part of many of the products I already create with Mpix, and the EW Couture templates for photographers. I fell in love with creating seamless surface designs and can hardly wait to see Elena Wilken patterns on fabrics, wall coverings and more stationary!

I stumbled upon the concept of surface pattern design on Skillshare when I found a couple of classes taught by Bonnie Christine and Elizabeth Olwen ...I knew nothing of surface pattern design or that it was even ‘a thing' at the time. Watched all the classes and soaked it all in, and then dug for even more information.

Over time I kept up with and learned all I could from Bonnie Christine’s Skillshare classes. They shaped and grew my business. 

When she launched her Surface Design Immersion course last year, I signed up knowing full well that it would be a life changing experience for me. 
And it was. This past year has been my first to break through the six figure mark.

Also, this is the year I’ve had my first surface pattern printed larger than life. Miller’s Professional Imaging, a professional photo lab, used it to wrap their trade show booth in NYC at one of the largest trade shows for professional photographers. I am beyond thankful and thrilled! Seeing something that was created on an iPad screen printed so large, is breathtaking.

Thanks to Bonnie, it feels like it’s just the beginning!


She keeps alive and re-ignites my love for creating, and her words have inspired and helped me push through imaginary or very real boundaries, failures and fears, time and time again. …Let’s be real! When you are self employed and your income covers a family of 5, the pressure can get to you at times and it’s not too hard to lose your perspective :)

She has a teacher’s heart, and her words of encouragement and inspiration have been just as valuable to me, as the technical and business knowledge she is sharing.

If you are serious about becoming a surface pattern designer, I can’t recommend the program enough! Wholeheartedly. 

I am thankful beyond words for a course like this, thankful for all the research time it saves, and for a teacher that shares her knowledge and the tools to succeed so freely. It has been a game changer.

The sign-up for the immersion course happens only once a year, for a week. It opened this morning and it will be open Feb 19th-26th, 2019. << You can find all the details here.

Enroll through the link included in this blog post, and I will send you a free $75 Amazon gift card, the day after the sign-ups for the course close. …Art supplies, anyone? ;)

To give you a super quick overview, the program is incredibly comprehensive.
It’s a 8 week course that contains over 120 lessons, 90 videos and audio versions of all of the text based lessons. It is truly worth every penny!

…I am familiar with a lot of courses (MATS included) and this is the best and most comprehensive course I’ve come across yet.
It’s the road map on how to became a surface pattern designer.
Starting from the technical side of things - sketches, all about Adobe Illustrator beginner and advanced levels, signature style, building every type of complex seamless repeat patterns, creating collections, building a portfolio - to promoting your work, choosing an industry, how to make a list of contacts, best practices to communicate with companies etc, and further to the behind the scenes and the business of surface design with contracts, licenses, copyrights, keeping track of accounting and finances etc.

I’ll go ahead and repeat myself :) It is truly worth every penny.
...See you in the Immersion Course? :)


I thought this might make you smile, and also encourage and inspire you, if you happen to be at the beginning of your journey - my first surface pattern and two of my last ones.

my first seamless surface pattern design

my first seamless surface pattern design

Wildflower fields at night - Elena Wilken surface pattern design

Wildflower fields at night - Elena Wilken surface pattern design

Tropical - Elena Wilken surface pattern design

Tropical - Elena Wilken surface pattern design

The chances are that some will read this post outside of the sign up window. If so, save the link, and sign up to be notified when enrollment for Immersion 2020 opens.

If you’re reading this during sign-up time and you’re on the fence and have questions, I’m happy to answer them. A lot of the information and knowledge I now have, is because other people took the time to answer my questions and help me, as I was learning. I believe in paying it forward and helping as much as possible.

Start today.

Start today.

The sign-ups are open Feb 19th-26th, 2019. << Find all the details about the Surface Pattern Design Immersion Course here.

Is becoming a surface pattern designer your goal, but the Surface Design Immersion course is just out of reach right now? Start taking Bonnie’s Skillshare classes today. Don’t wait on your dream!

...These classes are gold, really. Like I said, I started with Bonnie and Elizabeth’s classes. I’ll list them below.

Intro to Surface Pattern Design: Learn Adobe Illustrator / with Bonnie Christine
Surface Pattern Design 2.0: Design a Collection | Start a Career /with Bonnie Christine
Introduction to Designing Repeat Patterns in Illustrator / with Elizabeth Olwen
Pattern Design II: A Creative Look at a Full Pattern Collection / with Elizabeth Olwen
Pattern Design: Bring Your Artwork to Life on Products / with Elizabeth Olwen

—————

I'm an affiliate for Bonnie Christine’s Surface Pattern Design Immersion Course, so I will earn a portion of every registration that results because of my testimonials and promotional efforts. I applied to be an affiliate because her classes had such a tremendously positive effect on my business and I absolutely value what I've learned. She is committed to excellence and empowering and changing lives through her teaching. I am one of those students with a changed life.

Christmas season, all year long

elena wilken

It's Christmas season over here - as it is for probably every other greeting card designer out there. I am also going through a brand overhaul for EW Couture Collection, so there are books and notes everywhere around the office :)
...But, it is one of those days when the room is soaked in sunshine. And I thought it would be so fitting to share this image, along with these snapshots of illustration details from one of last year's holidays cards available in the EW Couture Collection line with Mpix.

office-space-cork-board-illustrator-designer.jpg

Hope you enjoy the close up look :) It was so much fun creating the numbers for this design!
For the curious minds, the vector based floral illustrations were done digitally, with the Apple Pencil on an iPad Pro, using the Adobe Draw app. The final design was created using Adobe Illustrator CC and Photoshop.

photo-christmas-cards-mpix-surface-pattern-ew-couture.jpg
photo-christmas-cards-mpix-surface-pattern-ew-couture-detail.jpg.jpg
photo-christmas-cards-mpix-surface-pattern-ew-couture-elena-wilken.jpg.jpg

From Adobe Draw digital illustrations to final product

elena wilken

Any tool you might be holding in your hands - pens, graphite pencils, watercolors, an Apple Pencil, ...a zucchini dipped in ink, for that matter - they all hold so much potential. That is fascinating to me, and it will always be. You can bring worlds to life, with a simple Bic pen - just check out the artwork of this Iranian artist!
I happen to favor quite a bit the iPad Pro + Apple Pencil combo.

Here is a little work progress and what came of a handful of florals I drew one evening while re-watching the Giver.
That's a favorite thing of mine - drawing while a favorite movie is softly replaying in the background, and the house is all quiet :) ...It's my version of "me time" and I find it quite recharging and inspiring.

Illustrations done in the Adobe Draw app • iPadPro &amp; Apple Pencil

Illustrations done in the Adobe Draw app • iPadPro & Apple Pencil

customizable bridal shower invite, created for the Mpix EW Couture Collection, using Adobe Illustrator &amp; Photoshop

customizable bridal shower invite, created for the Mpix EW Couture Collection, using Adobe Illustrator & Photoshop

vector illustrations turned into a seamless floral surface pattern design - the dream is to see this one part of a fabric line one day, soon :)

vector illustrations turned into a seamless floral surface pattern design - the dream is to see this one part of a fabric line one day, soon :)

vector illustrations turned into a seamless floral surface pattern design - more color explorations

vector illustrations turned into a seamless floral surface pattern design - more color explorations

My Favorite online Watercolor, Modern Calligraphy and Lettering classes

elena wilken

Here is a handful of my most favorite online classes. I promised I'd share them with you in one of my last posts, where I shared a bit about my story.

I am a huge fan of online classes and workshops because they can fit so easily to anyone's lifestyle and schedule needs. Plus it's hard to beat the value! You can not sign up for a 1 term 3 credit college class, for the price of all these  resources added together.

There are many great platforms out there, but Skillshare, is one of my favorites. I've been introduced to both surface pattern design and modern calligraphy through teachers on this platform, so that might be why I have a soft spot for it. That, and the fact that the quality of the classes I've been still taking since then, makes it worth spending the time watching.

modern-calligraphy-practice-elena-wilken.jpg
handlettered-card-elena-wilken-ewcouture.jpg
modern-digital-handlettering-iPadPro-elena-wilken.jpg

Modern Calligraphy and Lettering favorite classes

  • Melissa Esplin's Modern Calligraphy online workshop - is a self paced, one month membership to the online class, well structured and organized, with homework and assignments, that you get personal feedback on. I will be going back and taking this probably every couple of years - it's that great and it was that eye opening for me!
    It starts with a more traditional alphabet based on Copperplate calligraphy (which to be honest I wasn't excited about in the beginning), and it works through the assignments to get the students exploring their own personal style by the end of the class.
    After going through this class and others as well, I think this (or another great traditional calligraphy class) should be the first one any student takes. There is something to be said about learning the rules first, so you can beautifully break them later, in the pursue of modern calligraphy.
     
  • Maybelle Imasa-Stukuls' Beginning Calligraphy class on CreativeBug.com is another one of my favorite beginner calligraphy classes. The shape of her letters is slender, delicate, emanates strength, and they are just all-around beautiful.
    If you love her style and enjoy the class, I am sure you'll lover her calligraphy kit Belle Calligraphy Kit: Materials and Instruction for Modern Script, published by Chronicle Books.
     
  • Molly Jacques is the independent lettering artist that opened my eyes for the very first time to modern calligraphy and lettering!
    She used to have a class available through Skillshare - that's how I was first introduced to her.
    While she doesn't teach on the Skillshare platform anymore, she does have calligraphy, lettering and business classes available on her website.
watercolors-and-gouache-crespidias-elena-wilken.jpg

Watercolor & Gouache favorite classes

Skillshare has tons of watercolor classes available, and I watched a number of them. However my most favorite teachers are over on CreativeBug.com. The monthly membership allows you to watch any of the available classes, and is super affordable at $4.99 /a month. You might even be able to find a free 2-weeks trial by searching Google first.

  • Yao Cheng is a wonderful watercolorist and artist, but also an amazing teacher. You can't go wrong by watching any and all of her Creativebug classes!
     
  • I loved Jennifer Orkin Lewis (also known as August Wren) class Illustrative Painting with Guache.
    In many aspects, a completely different style from Yao Cheng, but she is a great teacher also. Best color mixing demonstration ever!
     
  • Not a watercolor/gouache, but a favorite drawing and illustration basics class is also taught on this platform by Heather Ross, a surface patterns and fabric designer that I have a lot of admiration for.

    Have fun exploring, and please do come back and share your favorite classes and resources in the comments, if you fall in love with any! :)
watercolor-foliage-elena-wilken.jpg

Surface Pattern Design Immersion Course with Bonnie Christine

elena wilken

*A little update - A year later…

If you’ve ever dreamt of being a Fabric Designer, I'm here to tell you that YOU CAN. All you have to do is decide to do it, and jump in. Give it your very best, day after day. That’s what I am doing

We all start somewhere. And this is a great place to start. Today is a good day to start. If you are looking for a sign, this is it. ...Turn your goals into a reality with the Surface Pattern Design Immersion Course. 

I am taking Bonnie Christine’s Immersion Course over these next couple of months fully knowing that it will be a life changing experience for me. 

I’ve learned so much from her Skillshare classes, and they shaped and grew my business already. Can’t recommend them enough! Wholeheartedly. The sign-up for the immersion course happens only once a year, for a week. Today is the last day to sign up for this year, and the chances are you might be reading this post outside of the sign up window. If so, save the link, sign up to be notified when enrollment for Immersion 2019 opens, but start taking her Skillshare classes today. Don’t wait on your dream. 

I'm an affiliate for Bonnie Christine’s Surface Pattern Design Immersion Course, so I will earn a portion of every registration that results because of my testimonials and promotional efforts. I applied to be an affiliate because her classes had such a tremendously positive effect on my business and I absolutely value what I've learned. She is committed to excellence and empowering and changing lives through her teaching. I am one of those students with a changed life.

My Little Home Office ...and How it All Started

elena wilken

A few months ago I moved into a work space outside our home.
The new office is beautifully lit on sunny days, and the streets outside the window delightfully buzz with life. Aside from the background noise it is very quiet. ...There are no children running around or hopping in as they pass by the door. I dearly miss the thought of those moments some days, but just as dearly, I appreciate and welcome the quietness :)
This new space feels like home and I am so thankful for the opportunity to be there. 

Here is a little sneak peak at this new spot I am spending my working hours in these days, with a little Meyer Lemon tree by the window.

Here is a little sneak peak at this new spot I am spending my working hours in these days, with a little Meyer Lemon tree by the window.

...But it’s not this space I want to show you. Not today.

...Let me first introduce myself.
I am Elena, an illustrator, letterer, graphic designer, and a self-declared photographer at heart. And before that, a wife, a mom to our 3 loves, and one part of a less traditional family with a working mom and a "domestic engineer" dad (aka our most awesome stay-at-home dad).

image by Velvet Owl Photography

image by Velvet Owl Photography

Almost 9 years ago to the day, out of my love and passion for photography, intertwined with my graphic design knowledge, I started EW Couture Collection. It was about one year after our first baby was born.
EW Couture Collection is a line of designer Photoshop templates and marketing materials for the professional photographer - Christmas cards, business cards, albums and mini accordion albums, CD, DVD and USB templates, presentation boxes, baby announcements, graduation invitations... you name it. All photographer marketing materials you could think of. 

7 years ago, before our second baby was born, I left my associate graphic designer position, and the part time gig became a full time contracting job.

Fast forward to almost 4 years ago after our third boy was born - my husband took on the role of a stay at home dad, and I took my work more seriously than ever. We strongly felt that it was the right direction and fit for our family and it made the most sense for us and our kids. So we stepped out into this adventure, and never really looked back. Only forward.
Along the way, I also started a collaboration with Mpix, creating for their beautiful collection of handmade photo goodies and keepsakes, and stationary.

It’s been a whirlwind ride that's been leaving me speechless and still fills me with thankfulness again and again. It allows me to make a living doing something that I enjoy, while leaving a mark on other peoples’ lives.
The people I've met, the friendships I’ve made, the things I am learning about myself and the way this journey is shaping our family, will forever stay with me.
That's not to say that there are no sacrifices we've chose or had to make along the way, or that life is in bright shades of pink everyday. But we both know we are in the right place, and wouldn't do it differently, given the choice. The kids are thriving, and they love having Paul around so much! ... I am sure I will be sharing more about our experience, as I become more friendly with my blog again, so stick around ;)

But for today, I wanted to take a moment to be thankful for - and honor - the little  place where I started my journey.
If you'd know me, you'd learn that I get attached to places, and they become very meaningful to me. That was the case with my little home office, too.
This place saw me at my highest and at my lowest, and it's here that I've learned to navigate the complex world of owning a small business. ...The place where so many projects were birthed, where I first tried modern calligraphy and lettering, where I first ventured into watercolors and illustration, and where I first started thinking of myself as a professional artist and small business owner. I love this little room and what it meant for me and implicitly, for our little family!

image by Velvet Owl Photography

image by Velvet Owl Photography

image by Velvet Owl Photography

image by Velvet Owl Photography

The cork board wall was one of my favorite features, and something that I recreated in my current space, as well. I love being able to pin on it inspirational pieces, torn magazine pages, things I might be working on at the moment, or little notes from the kids.
I happened to photograph how my husband and I installed it, so if you are interested in the process and how we went about getting it done, check out the blog next week for a feature.

image by Velvet Owl Photography

image by Velvet Owl Photography

image by Velvet Owl Photography

image by Velvet Owl Photography

In an effort to stay relevant in the industry, and out of curiosity and delight too (once I got the taste of it), I learned and taught myself new skills. It would be dishonest of me not to admit that a good part of the drive to learn new things was linked to getting a paycheck and making a living for our family.
I am an introvert, I am not a thrill seeker, and I am very happy in my comfort zone ...I have yet to take on something new without any fears, and fully believing it will turn into a smashing success :) So, anything that gets me motivated and pushes me forward, out of my comfort zone - I'll take it!

I am sure many are plagued with the fear of getting started, but what I learned is that most times that's all it takes. Getting started is half or more of the journey.

I thought it would be fun to share some of my favorite classes that I took, while learning lettering, calligraphy, and watercolors. I'll update with a link to the feature, this coming week. I started adding them here, but this post is getting lengthier than I intended it, as it is :) 

image by Velvet Owl Photography

image by Velvet Owl Photography

image by Velvet Owl Photography

image by Velvet Owl Photography

Watercolors and gauche are two other mediums that I've fallen in love with, in my creative explorations. And sure enough, I have a few awesome and very affordable online classes to recommend for these, too ;)

image by Velvet Owl Photography

image by Velvet Owl Photography

image by Velvet Owl Photography

image by Velvet Owl Photography

image by Velvet Owl Photography

image by Velvet Owl Photography

...And then, there is digital illustration. Oh, the possibilities!
I can completely blame my stumbling into that, on Paul :)
A couple of years ago, we went in to pick up a new desktop machine, and I walked out with the iMac - and an iPad Pro and Apple Pencil. Because "This is going to open up so many possibilities for you!" And indeed, the iPad Pro has been one of the best and most lucrative investments I made for the business, aside from education! I am thrilled he insisted I'd get it.
It's been part of my workflow on about every other project I've worked on since I got, and it will be part of every single one, as I wade into surface pattern design this year.

image by Velvet Owl Photography

image by Velvet Owl Photography

image by Velvet Owl Photography

image by Velvet Owl Photography

image by Velvet Owl Photography

image by Velvet Owl Photography

image by Velvet Owl Photography

image by Velvet Owl Photography

...About a year ago when I contacted Heidi of Velvet Owl Photography for updated head shots for the website, I didn't know I was going to move out soon. I am so glad that I decided to have the session in this little office.
With the move, this room is now a bedroom, with no sign of what is has been. I will forever treasure the memory of this little space as my little creative heaven.

image by Velvet Owl Photography

image by Velvet Owl Photography

...This is our gift baby, the one that has my heart wrapped around his little finger. And also, one of the reasons I started to seriously consider a work space outside the house :)

image by Velvet Owl Photography

image by Velvet Owl Photography

image by Velvet Owl Photography

image by Velvet Owl Photography

I've been fascinated with the world of surface pattern design ever since I've became aware of it (thank you Sillshare!) I am so excited to take this world by storm this year, and completely immerse myself in learning all I can about it, in a comprehensive Surface Pattern Design Immersion Program, taught by Bonnie Christine. I am not taking this on without feeling anxious, but I fully trust it will be a smashing success! ;)

Keepsake boxes - treasure chests of the past

elena wilken

 “Take care of all your memories. For you cannot relive them.“ ~ Bob Dylan

....The Watercolor Daydream memory box, from the EW Couture keepsake boxes collection, with Mpix. Senior images courtesy of Nicole Eastman Photography. Thank you for the beautiful photographs Nicole!

...And because I'll never tire of the Storybook Illustration box, here are a few fresh snaps of it, too.

Better today.

elena wilken

If you are an Instagram user, a great account to add to your follow list is Simon Sinek Inspires. He looks at every day as an opportunity to inspire, and does it by sharing little pearls of wisdom that will most likely cause you 'aha moments'. And will inspire you to take action.

... Little pearls like this this one, which determined me to start blogging again.
Isn't it so very true? "The goal is not to be perfect by the end. The goal is to be better today."
...What do you wish to perfect in your life, that you could get better at today?

For me, this also goes hand in hand with "Done is better than perfect."

Inspire-lettered-poster1-elena-wilken.jpg

Custom Facebook Christmas and holiday Timeline covers

elena wilken

Happy first day of winter! :)
Here is a little collection of timeline cover templates that you can access as free downloads. Hope you enjoy them! Use them as a quick little thoughtful thank you gesture for clients and/or on your pages.

It's never a bad idea to surprise your clients with a personal, customized timeline cover. Show off some of the images you created during your minis or regular sessions together, these past couple of months. It will bring a smile, allow them to brag about their family portraits and about their photographer ;)

>>> To download the files, please click the preview image below. <<<

To view all other complementary Custom Facebook Timeline cover downloads in the EW Couture line, check out the Free EW Couture Template Downloads on ewcouture.com

Unless otherwise specified,
• The template files are layered Photoshop (.PSD) files,
• The files are compatible with Photoshop CS and higher, for Mac and PC. To make the files compatible with Photoshop Elements, check out this free resource - a free ungroup layers action for elements
• The templates are designed to be as simple as possible. Simply drop in your photos, change the text, and you’re done; however colors are editable whenever possible, should you choose to further customize the files.
• Text is fully editable - most of the fonts used with this set are free, names are supplied. the web addresses where you can download them are included in the layer naming convention in each of the files.
When paid fonts are used, the text is used as a color layer. If you wish to change the text, simply delete the layer and add your own text.

To customize the colors of the color layers and shape layers, simply double click on the color slider thumbnail to bring up the color picker.

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AGREEMENT/TERMS OF USE

YOU MAY:
•1• Use these templates to create finished products for yourself or your photography clients. (Must be flattened jpgs, when in digital format). You can use these templates to create samples for your studio’s printed marketing materials, as well as for your studio’s online presence.
•2• Change colors, fonts, the position of the different layout elements (where the design permits) to meet the needs of your studio and pho- tography clients.

YOU MAY NOT:
•1• Re-distribute or sell these files/templates (as a whole or parts of them) by any means, for free or for a fee and pass them as your own. { When sharing a link, please share a link to the blog post, and not a direct link to the file.}
•2• Use elements from these templates in anything you are selling as a digital template.

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© 2016 Elena Wilken / Elena Wilken P&GA

Miller's Lab Design Market additions

elena wilken

When it comes to Miller's Design Market, folded luxe cards, mini accordions and albums might be my favorite products to design for. It's been fun pushing my creative boundaries while working on the Christmas 2016 collection - cards and albums alike.
...A few favorites from the many 2016 EW Couture photoshop template design additions in Miller's Lab Design Market.

Copper Frost 5x7 Side Folded Luxe Card

Copper Frost 5x7 Side Folded Luxe Card

Christmas Blooms 7x5 Flat Card and Address Label

Christmas Blooms 7x5 Flat Card and Address Label

Christmas Morning 7x5 Top Folded Luxe Card, Address Label and Oval Sticker

Christmas Morning 7x5 Top Folded Luxe Card, Address Label and Oval Sticker

Diamond Frames 5x7 Flat Card and Address Label

Diamond Frames 5x7 Flat Card and Address Label