Sunday, April 21, 2013

An Interview with the Surface Pattern Design Guild

© 2013 Alessandra Colombo
The countdown to the SURTEX 2013 has begun: as of today we have 27 days to the actual show! Are you ready?

I am a little behind myself, just to say - I can't panic but I'd like to! My printed main booth banner arrived and it looks good, phew! My postcards are being printed and the artwork is in the queue to start printing tomorrow. The press kit is designed and other colorful promo has been sent to the various sites that will publish it ... so what else is there to be done, one might wonder. Lots and lots of other important details, including the booth signs and decorations, product samples, office supplies, packaging and shipping arrangements, and of course several other things that I can't even remember right now.

I really needed a break from all this so it is my pleasure to introduce a special guest interview this week with a group of fun creatives from the San Francisco Bay area, better known as the Surface Pattern Design Guild. I met several of the members some months ago and it's very exciting to have them as part of our artist community - I welcome you all to The Moon from My Attic blog!

The Moon from My Attic: What do you do? The Surface Pattern Design Guild (SPDG) is a community of professionals in the textile, surface, and pattern design industry. We are a professional resource that is a 100% volunteer run, not-for-profit organization whose mission is to support our members by connecting them with networking opportunities, business resources, and continuing education as well as offer them invaluable exposure. Membership in SPDG is open to designers, illustrators, artists, and students within our industry. The majority of our members provide commercial design services, often intended for large scale production, for a variety of markets, including apparel, home furnishing, home fashion and tabletop, quilting and crafts, paper products, and even electronics.

Artwork by SPDG member Pamela Farmer
© Pamela Farmer
A group of us started SPDG about a year and half ago. We felt that there was no real professional organization like this (anywhere!) and that there was a real need for one. We began meeting in members' homes, but now have grown large enough that we meet monthly in the Finnish Hall in Berkeley. While the bulk of our members reside in Northern California, we have also built an international membership with members from Chile, the Netherlands, Canada, the United Kingdom, Brazil, and throughout the US.

Artwork by SPDG member Wendy Lin
© Wendy Lin
TMFMA: Tell us about your Guild. What's exciting about it? What's your main source of inspiration? There are so many things about SPDG that are exciting! First, there are all the fabulous education and networking opportunities we provide. Every month we have a meeting where members not only get to mingle but they also learn something. We frequently have guest speakers which have included experts on copyright, licensing, building your own website, using social media, trends (both apparel and home furnishings), working with fabric manufacturers, presenting at Surtex, and using Photoshop and Illustrator (Adobe was our presenter in January!), to name a few.

Second, we work hard to give our members exposure that is otherwise difficult to get. We make sure every member has a link from our website to theirs (if they have a website). Every other month, we feature a different member on our website and put their artwork in our website header. We also post members' artwork on Pinterest so that they can further expand their audience without "self-promoting."

Artwork by SPDG member Kim Anderson
© Kim Anderson
But the most exciting thing about SPDG really is its members. Everyone comes to SPDG with a different background, perspective, and level of experience. We have some members who are students and others who are more experienced. Some focus on designs for apparel while others focus on designs for quilting and still others focus on designs for interiors, paper products, and electronics. Everyone has such a unique aesthetic ... and really that provides the most inspiration. Every time someone shows their work, in person or online, it just creates an environment of excitement that helps to elevate all of our work. Check out some of our members work on our SPDG Pinterest Page.

TMFMA: Is there any particular project you are currently working on that is exciting? We have several great events coming up in the next couple of months. In April is a webinar entitled "How to Find Work as a Surface Pattern Designer." The webinar is for SPDG-members only and will be put on by Michelle Fifis of Pattern Observer. Also in April, at our regular monthly meeting we will have demonstrations of advanced Photoshop and Illustrator techniques for several skills such as creating repeats, color matching, and masking, all of which are sure to add to your technical arsenal. And in May we are also super excited to be able to present a panel of speakers that will be talking about the nitty-gritty of starting your own business!

Artwork by SPDG member Ben Corrales
© Ben Corrales
TMFM: Some say trends are not important. What's your view about this topic as related to the industry? Following trends is really a personal design choice and may depend on the company one works for. Some of our members follow them, some don't. But whether we follow them in our design work or not, we love to hear about them. Last Fall, we had a great speaker, Fran Yoshioka, who gave us a fascinating presentation on trends for both women's apparel for Fall 2013 and reported on Maison et Object from the September 2102 show (home furnishings).

TMFMA: What are your future aspirations and goals? We really would like to become the go-to place for surface pattern designers to network and get additional educational opportunities. And we'd also like to be the go-to place for those who would hire surface pattern designers. It's so easy to browse our list of members and view their websites to see if someone has a design aesthetic that matches up with a particular company.

Artwork by SPDG members Sarah Schwartz and 
Ruby Geisler of Sarah & Ruby Design Studio
© Sarah Schwartz & Ruby Geisler 
Another goal is to continue to develop our sense of community. We really believe that every member has something to offer and we can all learn from each other. The more we get to know each other and interact, the more we all benefit. One of the ways we're working to build our community is that we've started a private conversation group for our members where we encourage them to ask anything about surface pattern design. It's really becoming an invaluable resource for our members.

Find out more about the Surface Pattern Design Guild on their website:

Artwork by SPDG member Jill Turney
© Jill Turney
Artwork by SPDG member Jennifer Thayer
© Jennifer Thayer
Artwork by SPDG member Wendy Arbeit
© Wendy Arbeit

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