Textile Design Lab

Design Opportunity with Pattern Observer Studio – Men’s Tropical Prints





palm trees










SUBMISSIONS ARE NOW CLOSED. Thanks for all of your hard work!!! We look forward to being able to offer more of these design opportunities for TDL members in the future!

Hi everyone! We are delighted to be able to offer something new to the Textile Design Lab community in preparation for an upcoming sales trip Michelle is taking next month for Pattern Observer Studio. We are putting out a call to TDL members to create designs for the men’s swim and active markets, and selected designs will be shown as part of the Pattern Observer Studio collection. This is for a mass-market retailer who wants to see hand rendered Hawaiian tropical and conversational patterns for the Spring ’19 season. Above you can see lots of patterns on these themes that are currently out in the market (to be used for general inspiration only, please do not try to mimic any of these designs.) Motifs you may want to explore are tropical flora and fauna including fish, shells, sea birds, dolphins, turtles, palm trees, Bird of Paradise, and of course the iconic hibiscus. Other themes to incorporate could be tropical fruits like pineapple and coconut, surfing, hula dancers, Tiki culture, lava, waves, boats, and the island chain itself. Try to steer clear of anything too abstract, we are not looking for textures, simple stripes, etc.

As we hear more details from this client we may be updating the project with new information, and potentially will be looking for patterns on other themes and for other markets. We will keep you informed via these private blog posts in the Lab if anything changes.


Please read through the following guidelines in their entirety if you plan on participating in this art call. 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 Thursday, September 28th, 2017, though the earlier you can submit the better.



We have set up a new forum dedicated to this and hopefully future Pattern Observer Studio projects. You can access it here.


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 sales meetings in October, and you may then do with them as you wish.


How many patterns can I submit?

You can submit as many as you like between now and September 28th, 2017, but keep in mind quality rather than quantity. Please do not send variations on the same design 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 starting from 001 (ex. MichelleFifis001.psd, MichelleFifis002.ai, etc.)

-13″x19″ artboard

-300 dpi

-Start in RGB for PS files, CMYK for AI files

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

-Indexing/color separations are not required, but are okay if that’s how you prefer to work. If you do choose to index, please limit to 18 colors maximum.

-Create in layers if possible rather than flattening your artwork. If you are scanning a hand-painted piece, a flat file is okay.

-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.


Sending patterns & the approval process

1. Please send your full .ai or .psd files via wetransfer.com to michelle@patternobserver.com, and put “Men’s Tropical” in the message box so we know the download you are sending us is part of this art call.

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.

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 September 28th, 2017. Decisions made on patterns submitted on September 28th, 2017 will be final and no revisions will be accepted after this date.

3. Please fill out this form any time you send us a pattern to help us keep track of all of the work submitted. This includes filling out the form for any revisions you submit.


Whew! I know that’s a lot of information, thanks for sticking with it to the end! 🙂 Please post any questions you have on the forum and tag @michelle. Thank you and good luck!!

September 7, 2017

26 Responses on Design Opportunity with Pattern Observer Studio - Men's Tropical Prints"

  1. Sophie says:

    Hi Chelsea,
    Can we upload JPG file first and see if you approve them, we send you Illustrator file?

    Thank you,

  2. Emma says:

    Wow how exciting, thanks for sharing with us!

  3. Pat Foltz says:

    These are for the Summer of which year? How exciting to work on a real world brief! (lol)

  4. Wow how exciting. Love this opportunity. Good question, Pat: For which year are these patterns meant to be? 🙂

  5. I have a question about the conversational vignette. could someone explain the word vignette to me, especially in this context 🙂 thanks a lot 🙂

  6. Ana Alvarez says:

    Thank you for sharing this great opportunity. I am very excited to be able to participate in it!

  7. @ Chelsea I have a question about the style the client is looking for. In the description it says hand rendered. Do you think they’d be interested in hand painted work? I’m thinking hand rendered means not super clean vector artwork, but I could be misinterpreting that. Thanks for your thoughts and the opportunity!

  8. Edyta says:

    His ! I’might about this hand rendering , only this kind of work’s ? Those samples of patterns are done in different techniques.

  9. Edyta says:

    Sorry about mistakes , my phone changes words 🙂

  10. Edyta says:

    I have also another question , pattern has to be seamless?

    • Hi @edyta no, the pattern does not need to be in a seamless repeat, it is more important to have a good layout that flows well rather than putting the pattern into repeat. Since we don’t know the client’s production needs at this time the repeat size would likely have to be changed anyway, so don’t worry about that part 😉

      Yes the patterns in the examples are done in lots of different styles, and I think there is plenty of room for interpretation here. The idea though is just for the artwork to have a hand-done feel rather than being very clean/graphic. Does this help?

  11. Edyta says:

    Yes, thank You , now everything is clear. So they will work on these chosen works , to prepare it for production?

  12. @chelsea @michelle Do we have tomorrow as well to send the prints, or do we have to submit everything by midnight today?

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