Silly Ideas, Finding Creativity & Pattern Design.

My journal's been a bit quiet lately, so I thought I'd dust off the keyboard and get typing. I know I should keep this thing more up-to-date, but the whole reason I got into pattern design is that I love how it gets me off screens and into the real world. But here I am, on a sunny Sunday afternoon, wanting to give you a glimpse into my creative process and designs.

Now that summer's here, maybe this will inspire you to create your own designs or look out for patterns that will jazz up your living space or wardrobe.

It all starts with an idea.

My creative process could probably be simpler, but it works for me, and I enjoy it, especially when the outcome is something special.

My inspiration can come from literally anywhere – an evening walk, dancing all night with friends, cowboy boots, details of an iron gate, reflections and shadows, dreams. You name it. I'm always taking lots of photos when I'm out and about, so when I've got an idea in my head for a new pattern I also look back through my photos – as I like to mix 2-3 motifs within a pattern, I create a mood board and ensure the design I’m creating feels part of the same story.

Sometimes I get comments like, "Have you thought about doing a new pattern with this...?!" And while I love a recommendation, if I haven't seen or experienced it myself, I'm usually not feeling it for a design. It's got to come from something real for me.

Once I've got my inspiration, I start sketching. Lots and lots of sketching. Cutting out shapes, painting, making a mess. Things get a bit chaotic. I sketch on anything I can find – old newspapers, tissues, the back of drink coasters. You name it.

Sometimes I have an idea in my head for a print, but I need to create the scene and photograph it in real life. Take my Amalfi print, for example. I wanted something that felt like a reminder of visiting Italy with my mum. So, I photographed ribbons and lemons intertwined, created the scene myself, took photos, and drew from them until I was happy with the style and motifs.

Making patterns from lino.

Once I've got a series of motifs I'm happy with, it's time to design the repeat pattern. This is where it could be simpler to go digital, but like I said earlier, I'm on my laptop ALL day for my 9-5 job. So when I'm home, I like to pretend my laptop doesn't exist.

Instead, I draw the repeat print by hand until I'm happy with the design. Then comes the fun part, I cut my designs out of lino. It's what makes my designs so distinctively my brand. I love the charm and imperfections you get from lino printing; it makes the final design completely unique.

Lino art and printing is also very therapeutic, it allows me to focus on what's in front of me. The design becomes my own interpretation of a moment in time, unpolished and beautiful.

On the topic of ideas...

Speaking of ideas, a little story for you. I'll never forget when I was working for a company, and there was a senior member of the team who wanted fun ideas for a Valentine's Day marketing campaign. I was excited to come up with a bunch of ideas, but when I presented them, he laughed and said they were "silly" and that I wasn't really an "ideas person."

I remember feeling so bashed at the time. And pretty shit. But now, every time I produce a beautiful print or receive an email from a customer saying how much they love their order, I just think to myself how easy it could have been to believe I wasn't good at creative ideas and quit while I was ahead.

But, no idea is silly. Take my corn print, for example. When I first shared the sketches with friends, it didn't get much love. Now it's one of my best-selling designs.

Art and creativity are subjective - we won't all love the same things, and that's fine. Not sure about a fabric or paint colour for your space? Get samples and live with them for a bit. Considering a new sofa? Print a photo and stick it on your wall. If you get sick of seeing it daily, it's probably not right. But if you find yourself wanting to cosy up on the real thing, you know it's time to buy. Trust your instincts when it comes to your space.

Creative blocks can be your friend.

Creative blocks can pop up at any time. Sometimes doing absolutely nothing or going to a gallery, seeing friends, rolling around in nature – can help. Putting a design to the side, and coming back fresh.

That's why I usually have lots of concepts for designs happening at the same time. When I'm beginning to feel stuck with one, I start on another and come back to the tricky one later.

There are not enough hours in the day.

TIME. Is my biggest challenge. Balancing all the things that come with running a business can often feel like you're in a room with lots of people shouting at you to do things, and everything is a priority. Plus, during the week, I still work a 9-5, so Calver is what I work on in the evenings and weekends.

I'm a big lover of lists. I usually have a massive list of things I need to do, but I prioritize 3 things a day that I absolutely have to complete or at least get to a good stage. That way, I feel like I'm getting somewhere and having a productive week.

Not so silly ideas.

What I love about interiors is that the fabrics we create are designed to be cherished, with a lasting legacy. I don't look at trends – I design what I enjoy and love, and hope that people will too. Almost all really new ideas have a certain aspect of silliness when they are first produced, hang in there and you will be surprised with the patterns, interiors and creative output you create. Now back to my designs. Calver x |



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