Textile Design Lab

Design Opportunity with Pattern Observer Studio – Children & Baby Briefs





Hello everyone! As you may know, Pattern Observer Studio exhibited at Premiere Vision and Surtex last month, and our plan is to return to PV this July. At both of these trade shows we spoke to a number of manufacturers in the kids/babies market, and since this is a category that is really lacking within our pattern library, we decided to focus this next round of studio briefs on filling this need so we will be better prepared for future client requests in this area. (If you’d like to hear more about our experiences at PV and Surtex you can watch our video recaps here and here.) 

It is very important that you read through all of our guidelines before participating in this brief, even if you have participated in past briefs. Let’s dive into the details:


The Brief

We are calling on interested TDL members to create patterns for the Spring/Summer 2020 design season for Premiere Vision, to be represented under the Pattern Observer Studio brand. PV is mainly a fashion-focused trade show and is typically very trend-driven. The most important thing is to develop beautiful motifs, a professional layout and an eye-catching palette, based around our provided themes. Designs do not need to be in repeat. At this time we are looking for all-over patterns only, not placement graphics.

In the three trend boards above you can explore the themes that we are seeing trending for the kids and babies markets for Spring/Summer 2020. Color palettes are provided as inspiration but it is not required that you use them.

Here is a bit more about each theme:

Energetic: Playful, cheerful motifs in a bright color palette. Ideas include but are not limited to:

  • Rainbows, sun
  • Toys, building blocks 
  • Magical creatures like unicorns, dragons, mermaids, fairies, etc. Could also include unusual/quirky animals such as narwhals.
  • Dinosaurs
  • Candy, ice cream, popsicles (please don’t use real brand names as this could present copyright issues)

Soft and sophisticated: taking a more minimal, subtle approach with a softer color palette. This trend is great for both baby and older kids. Ideas include:

  • “Forest” type animals, like deer, bunnies, bears, foxes, owls, rabbits, etc.
  • Farm animals like cows, horses, pigs, goats, sheep, chickens, etc.
  • “Baby” florals–we have tons of florals in our studio collection so these should be intentionally targeted toward baby, featuring soft pastel palettes, and at a smaller scale than you would design for adults (think of the size of a baby and whether all of the motifs would show up on a onesie or other teeny garment.) Often florals for this market are more simplified and not super “busy.” Consider leaving some negative space in the design. 
  • Retro influence
  • Preppy coastal themes–waves, whales, turtles and other sea life, shells, flamingos, simple nautical motifs like ropes, anchors and sailboats

Tropical: again we have a lot of general “tropical” in the studio collection, so make sure your patterns are really geared toward children. They should feel playful, be scaled down to an appropriate size for smaller garments, and in general be more simplified/less busy than what you might create for adults. Ideas include:

  • “Jungle” type animals such as tigers, elephants, monkeys, sloths, etc.
  • Tropical birds paired with flora and/or leaf motifs
  • Reptiles such as snakes or crocodiles (but make sure they look friendly, not scary!)



  • March 4 – PV briefs released
  • March 4-April 1 – Design period. Use this time to get feedback on the forum and in the weekly live critiques.
  • April 2-8 – Submission period. We will only be accepting submissions during this week, not before or after.


How many patterns can I submit?

You can submit up to 5 patterns during the April 2-8 submission period. You have the option to design all five patterns for a single trend such as Tropical, or to mix and match which of the trends you would like to design for, but either way, this means five patterns total will be accepted. Submitting more than five patterns (this includes additional colorways, or variations on a design) will disqualify your submission from review.


The submission process

Patterns will be accepted from April 2-8 via our artist website HERE. Be sure to first watch Michelle’s INTRO VIDEO before submitting: https://bit.ly/2PkBagR

As part of the submission process we will also be requiring that you put your patterns on our studio info form like you see at left. You can find a tutorial on using this form HERE which includes a link to download the form for Illustrator and Photoshop. We will also be asking you to submit a .jpg version of your patterns on this form for our initial design review. This means both your .jpg and your full .psd or .ai should be on our studio form when you upload them to the artist site.


The selection process

With each trade show we attend, we are learning more about what buyers are looking for, what factors draw them to our patterns, and what types of work we should be showing more or less of. This means we are working hard to streamline our pattern library and to put our best foot forward to buyers by valuing quality over quantity of designs. We discuss this more in our Surtex recap if you’d like to hear more about our thought process behind this.

Our goal is for all of the patterns we show to be of the highest quality both aesthetically and technically, and also to make sense within our existing studio collection. It is one of the strengths of our studio to represent a wide range of designers’ styles and techniques, and we are proud to do so, but we also need to present a unified collection that does not feel too chaotic or piecemeal. So…while this means we will be approving fewer designs than in the past, we hope the ultimate result will be more sales for more of our TDL members!


There will be no revisions accepted this year, the process was just too time-consuming with the 1,300+ submissions for Surtex last year! Thank you for understanding. Please take advantage of the forum and the weekly live art critiques to work through any needed revisions before submitting your final patterns, and make sure you fully understand all of our file requirements listed below.


Requirements for file setup

We will only be able to accept files that are created exactly to these specifications, so please read carefully and ask us if you have questions before submitting.

-13 in. x 19 in. art board–please use portrait format (13″ wide, 19″ tall) and make sure the pattern layout fills out the whole page so that some motifs go off the edges of the page. If you typically work in the metric system, please double check your page size!

-300 dpi–please double check this, especially if you are working from scanned artwork

-RGB color mode

-No repeat is necessary, a better layout is more important

-Please try to keep your layers organized as much as possible. Grouping multiples of the same motif throughout a print (Command G) & labeling the groups in your layers panel can be very helpful for file organization (for example, creating a group for all blue circles that appear in the print, another group for all red squares, etc.) Please also clean up any stray sketches, inspiration images, etc. (even those that fall outside of the artboard) and delete any layers that are unused in your final design (any layers with the eyeball turned off in the Layers panel)

-All artwork contained within the design, including motifs, textures and photographs, must be your own. Stock images, clip art, Creative Commons images, and the like are not permitted.

-Please do not include any extras like mockups, additional colorways, your own logo or branding, etc.
-Pay attention to scale. If you need to, print out the design to check the scale. A 13″x19″ art board seems smaller on the screen than it actually is, you might be surprised at how large your motifs print out! You can hold the printout up to your body to envision it on a garment. I also recommend turning on your rulers (Command R) in Photoshop or Illustrator to keep an eye on the scale as you are designing.
-If you are working in Illustrator, please make sure all images and elements used in your design are embedded rather than linked. To check this go to Window > Links and if you see that any images are still linked, please click “Embed Image.” This ensures that the images will show up when I or a future client opens the file (otherwise, if they remain linked, they will not show up and will appear blank.)
-Please save a .jpg in addition to your full .ai or .psd version, and put both on our studio form. We will ask for both when you upload your designs.

Color separations and image quality–this is critical!!

We need to be a lot stricter with this requirement this year, so please pay careful attention and ask us if you need clarification. Zoom way in on your files to double check the quality before submitting!
If you are working in Illustrator, all elements must be vector. This means they must either be created directly in Illustrator, or image traced. There should be no raster elements in an Illustrator file.
If you are working in Photoshop, your patterns should either be:
  • indexed (18 colors maximum)
  • a flat file if scanning a hand-painted piece (does not need to be indexed) or
  • created in layers, with the following caveats:

While color separations are not required if the artwork is complex (photographic, hand-painted, lots of layering/blending modes, etc.) if your artwork has a clean, graphic appearance, the edges of your shapes should be hard edges when you zoom in, not a soft blur of pixels. Basically, if a pattern looks like a 5 color print with the naked eye, it should truly only have 5 colors in the design, whether or not you go through the indexing process. The edges of the shapes should be crisp & clean, not anti-aliased. Please note the difference:


To achieve these crisp edges, please make sure you have anti-alias unchecked and feather set to zero when making selections (such as with the lasso tool or magic wand tool):

Screen Shot 2017-10-23 at 6.56.07 AM

and use the Nearest Neighbor interpolation when using your transform controls (changing the scale of a motif, rotating, etc.):

Screen Shot 2017-10-23 at 6.57.14 AM
I also suggest using the pencil tool rather than the brush tool if you are working in Photoshop and trying to create clean/graphic looking artwork.
Feel free to post in the comments below or tag me @chelsea on the forum if you have any questions about this! You can also check out the example files that are provided along with this tutorial on filling out our studio forms–feel free to download and inspect them closely!

If using fonts in your pattern…

Please be sure to only use fonts that are free for commercial use. fontsquirrel.com has a great selection.
If you are working in Photoshop, please rasterize any type used by going to Type > Rasterize Type Layer. This will make it so that the text is no longer editable so I recommend saving another copy of the file before rasterizing in case you need to go back in and edit the text. We just need the type rasterized before you send the file to us to ensure your lettering will not change in appearance.
If you are working in Illustrator, you need to select any text and go to Type > Create Outlines before sending us your file. Again, this will make it so that the text cannot be changed so you may want to save a version of your file with editable text. Let us know if you have questions!


Pricing and Pattern Exclusivity

All patterns represented by Pattern Observer Studio now fall under the following terms. We present all three of these options to buyers and allow them to choose which works best for them:

  • First option – Flat fee license of $650 for three years (the studio takes a 50% commission, so you would receive $325). This licensing option is limited by product category, for 3 years.
  • Second option – Flat fee license of $750 (the studio takes a 50% commission, so you would receive $375). This licensing option is limited by product category, but not by length of time as they would own that piece of artwork for that particular product category.
  • Third option – Copyright sale – all rights to one client for $1000 (the studio takes a 50% commission, so you would receive $500). Unlimited rights to all product categories forever.

While your designs are in our possession we ask for exclusivity, meaning you can not sell, license or show the designs anywhere else, including your personal portfolio or on social media. 

Please note that if you do sell or license a pattern, you will not be able to show the pattern on your website, social media or in your portfolio until the pattern is on the sales floor. If the copyright is sold (third option) you are relinquishing the rights to all motifs and elements within the design and may not re-use any part of the design in future prints.

Again, if you wish to submit patterns, you must be open to any of the three above options, as different clients will have different ways of working, and we must remain flexible in order to make the most sales/licensing deals!

We will have a contract for you to sign for all patterns we accept for inclusion in the Pattern Observer Studio collection to ensure you accept these terms.


What happens to my patterns after the show?

Any unsold/unlicensed patterns can either be returned to you after Premiere Vision, or you can keep your patterns in our Pattern Observer Studio library. If you choose to do so, the patterns would remain exclusive with us and we would add the designs to our online collection where our clients can browse and shop, and continue to show your patterns in our sales meetings. As a reminder, while a pattern is represented by us, it can not be shown on social media, in your portfolio, etc.

Please also note that we may decide at any time to return any of your patterns to you, at which point you would then be free to do with them as you wish. This isn’t a reflection on your design skills and doesn’t mean your pattern isn’t sellable! We might love a pattern but it might not be right for the direction that Pattern Observer Studio is moving in at that time. This is an ever-evolving process for us and as mentioned above, we are learning more each time we attend a trade show about what buyers are looking for and how we can best meet their needs (and hopefully how we can get the maximum amount of deals for our designers!) As trends and buyer preferences change season to season, so will our collection evolve and shift over time.


When will I know the results of any sales or licensing deals made at Premiere Vision?

We want to keep you all in the loop on how the show goes and will be in touch with all participants as soon as possible after the show. Usually this takes the form of a webinar, recapping the show and answering members’ questions. As far as sales and licensing deals made at the show, sometimes we have walked away with lots of great contacts but no deals, and sometimes a deal will be made on the spot. Often, however, the process can take a few weeks or more for a company to make final decisions about patterns. We appreciate your patience and will keep you as informed as possible along the way.


You can access the forum for Pattern Observer Studio projects here. This is where you should post all questions on the project, and any works in progress you would like feedback on. Please note that the TDL team works in shifts throughout the week, and while Michelle (@michelle) Melissa (@melissa-s) and I (@chelsea) will do our best to respond to as many posts as possible, our other wonderful TDL team members (Laura @lolivia, MaryJane @maryjane-mitchell, and Lise @lise) will be providing feedback as well–all have incredible experience and we are super grateful for their insights!

It is important to us that at least one TDL team member provide feedback on every post so if you have not heard back from anyone and you feel your post has accidentally been missed, please tag us!

Weekly chats/feedback

We encourage you to take part in our weekly live chats hosted by Michelle or MaryJane on Thursdays at 1pm Eastern if you are looking for additional feedback on your patterns. Registration links are emailed out early on Thursday mornings or can be found in our Weekly Art Critique forum. This is also where you should post your work if you are planning on taking part in the critiques.



Thank you so much for reading through to the end, it is so appreciated to keep everyone on the same page, and to ensure the greatest chance of approval for your patterns!! Please post any questions you have about these requirements in the comments below or on the forum and tag me @chelsea or Michelle @michelle. Thank you and happy designing!!

March 4, 2019

1 Responses on Design Opportunity with Pattern Observer Studio - Children & Baby Briefs"

  1. Susan Brand says:

    Very excited! Great Brief!

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