Textile Design Lab

Design Opportunity with Pattern Observer Studio – Easter & Valentine’s Day




Hi everyone! As you may know from listening to Michelle’s video newsletter last week, her recent client meeting may not have been fruitful in terms of sales, but it was fruitful in building our relationship with this client and has brought about a second opportunity for Lab members to create work to be shown with Pattern Observer Studio.

For the men’s tropical project we received nearly 400 patterns, of which we were able to accept about 200, but we have decided it is in everyone’s best interest to streamline this process this round, and we will be accepting a maximum of 5 submissions per designer. Not only does this help us on our end to manage the number of files we are reviewing, but it will also ensure the client gets to see only your very best work and (fingers crossed) will lead to a greater likelihood of print sales this time around!


The Brief

We are calling on interested TDL members to create Easter and Valentine’s designs primarily for kids’ home goods, and selected designs will be shown as part of the Pattern Observer Studio collection in a virtual meeting with our client in late November. This is for a mass-market retailer who wants to see cute conversational patterns (cute characters like bunnies, baskets, hearts, etc.) for the Spring ’19 season. These prints will be used on home goods like tablecloths, napkins, kitchen towels, odds and ends, etc. and geared toward children. If “cute” is just not a style you are comfortable working in, we encourage you to work in your own style and we can present some designs that are slightly more sophisticated on the Easter and Valentine’s themes. However please steer clear of anything too abstract, we are not looking for textures, simple coordinates like stripes, florals that are not specific to the theme, etc. The focus should be conversationals.

Above you can see some designs on these themes that are currently or have recently been in the market (to be used for general inspiration only, please do not try to mimic any of these designs.) While some of the images shown are placement designs, we are only looking for all over patterns at this time.


We have changed some of the submission guidelines from last time in order to streamline the process, so even if you submitted to the men’s tropical call, please read the guidelines below in their entirety if you plan on participating. It is important that all files submitted be created to these specifications, and that you understand your rights and responsibilities surrounding this project. Thank you!


Due Date

All patterns will be due by 11:59 PM Eastern time, Monday, November 13th, 2017, though the earlier you can submit the better. Please note that we have to be firm with this deadline in order to allow us enough time to organize the patterns and prepare our presentation.



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. Michelle and I will do our best to respond to as many posts as possible but the other TDL team members (Laura @lolivia, MaryJane @maryjane-mitchell, and Lise @lise) have also been briefed on the project and will be providing feedback as well.


Weekly Chat/Feedback

We encourage you to take part in our weekly live chats hosted by Michelle on Thursdays at 1pm Eastern while the project is underway. Registration links are emailed out early on Thursday mornings and links can also be found in our Weekly Art Critique forum.


Pricing & Pattern Exclusivity

At Pattern Observer Studio we sell the copyrights to our patterns for $650 and the studio takes a 50% commission, so you would receive $325 per sold design. While the design is in our possession we ask for exclusivity, meaning you can not sell, license or show this design anywhere else, including your personal portfolio or social media. It is important for us to avoid a situation where our client wants to buy a pattern only to realize that it was sold on another website or by a different agent a day earlier. 

Please note that if you do sell 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. You will be selling the copyrights to the design and may not re-use any part of the design in future prints.

Any unsold patterns will be returned to you after our showing with the client at the end of November, and you may then do with them as you wish.


How many patterns can I submit?

You can submit up to 5 patterns between now and November 13th, 2017. Please do not send variations on the same design (i.e. designs which re-use the same motifs, even in different arrangements) or multiple colorways. If you need help choosing a colorway you can post the different versions on the forum for feedback.


Requirements for file setup

-Please name your files with your first & last name + a 3 digit number from 001 to 005 (ex. MichelleFifis001.psd, MichelleFifis002.ai, etc.) Even if you submitted a file called “Michelle001.psd” for the Men’s Tropical project, it will help us keep track of everyone’s files if you name them the same way (starting from 001) for this new project. Your tropical prints are no longer in our possession so there will be no confusion.

-13″x19″ artboard–please use portrait format (13″ wide, 19″ tall) and make sure the pattern layout fills out the whole page

-300 dpi

-All files, both AI and PS, should be in RGB color mode for this virtual presentation to the client

-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 extras like mockups
-Pay attention to scale–this is for small home items like hand towels, napkins, etc. and specifically for children. Large-scale motifs are most likely not going to appeal to the client for this project. If you need to, print out the design to check the scale. A 13″x19″ artboard seems smaller on the screen than it actually is, you might be surprised at how large your motifs print out!


A word on color separations and image quality
We had some issues last time with blurry/pixelated motifs and wanted to clarify what we (and most clients) will expect in terms of image quality.
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

Screen Shot 2017-10-23 at 6.56.07 AM

and use the Nearest Neighbor interpolation when using your transform controls (changing scale, 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 tag me @chelsea on the forum if you have any questions about this!


Sending patterns & the approval process

1. Please upload your full .ai or .psd files HERE. You should receive a confirmation email from Dropbox after uploading which will let you know the files went through. 

2. Michelle and Chelsea will review patterns and decide whether they are a good fit for our upcoming presentation. We reserve the right to make this decision as we see fit and submitted patterns will be given one of two classifications:

Approved: we will send you a contract that will need to be signed stating that you own all rights to the work and that you agree to sell the copyright to your work. (Even if you signed a contract for the men’s tropical project, we will need you to sign a new one that pertains to the patterns you’ve created for this project.)

Not approved: the pattern in its current state is not the right fit for this project. You can continue to workshop it on the forum and in the Thursday chats and submit revisions up until November 13th, 2017. Decisions made on patterns submitted on November 13th will be final and no revisions will be accepted after this date.

3. We will send you a final confirmation email after November 13th, prior to our client presentation, confirming which of your patterns were selected for the presentation.


When will I know the results of the presentation?

We will be in touch via a TDL newsletter and/or email as soon as possible after the client presentation, but sometimes the process can take a few days or even weeks for a company to make final decisions about patterns. We appreciate your patience and will keep you as informed as possible along the way.


Whew, okay I think that’s it! Thanks for reading through to the end. Please post any questions you have about these requirements on the forum and tag me @chelsea or Michelle @michelle. Thank you and good luck!!

October 23, 2017

15 Responses on Design Opportunity with Pattern Observer Studio – Easter & Valentine's Day"

  1. @michelle and @chelsea
    Is it an idea to create a duplicate of this post and post t on the studio design challenge forum?
    last time with the men’s tropical, it was very helpful to refer to. 🙂

  2. My understanding was that, unless we asked for them back, the men’s tropical designs were being held for possible future sale. But ingthis post it says “Your tropical prints are no longer in our possession”. What does that mean?

    • Hi Anni, I am sorry for the confusion on this. We are not holding anyone’s prints and you now can do with them as you choose (share on social media, try to sell them elsewhere, etc.) If there is some way I can word this to make it more clear for this new project please let me know!

  3. Pat Foltz says:

    Thanks for the updates, Chelsea. It’s exciting to have another “real world” challenge and opportunity to work with you and Michelle! Is there any information on the lab that you can point us in the direction of about designing for the kid’s and/or home goods markets?

  4. Thank you @chelsea and @michelle sounds like a great opportunity again. Loved to work on the tropical briefing! As I understood its a design for the Kids Homedecor market. Right?

  5. First of all, this new addition to TDL is really wonderful. Yes the courses and challenges are amazingly motivating and helpful but being able to participate in the real life experience alongside you both brings a really valuable dimension to TDL…so thanks!

    This brief is so outside my comfort level in terms of cute kids 🙂 but have always wanted to give it a try…so thanks again!

    Question: is there a way to download the brief from TDL? I like to have it ready on my desktop to refer to. I know I can copy/paste to a word document but thought I would see if there is an easy download method that I am missing.

    Thanks!!! @chelsea @michelle

  6. PKP says:

    @Michelle @Chelsea Can we send more than 5 designs, so that you can choose any five out of them?

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