Finding Buried Treasure…

When visiting my Mom a while back, I poked around her basement in “my pile” of stuff. You know, the bins and trunks of forgotten treasures of day’s past. I really have to go through all of it to see what other neato things that I can find.

Anyway, I found an old portfolio from my days at Syracuse University. Lots of Fashion Illustration projects (that was what I majored in and pretty much stunk at it), and lo and behold, I found one of my old Surface Pattern Design pieces! SO excited! Back in those days, each design took DAYS to accomplish.

1. We had to draw the main pattern on tracing paper and made sure that it repeated properly.

Syracuse Univ SPD-1

2. Next was spending literally hours, if not days, tracing the design on to what we called “stretch paper”, laboring tediously over a giant light box.

Syracuse Univ SPD-2

3. Picking out colors for the design, then trying to mix the exact colors with W&N gouache paint. Both tedious AND expensive. And frustrating.

Syracuse Univ SPD-3

4. Painting the design. For hours, and hours. God forbid you spilled your coffee or tea while painting! Game over! Begin again :/

Syracuse Univ SPD-4

5. Rolling up the patterns, putting them in the plastic tube, and trudging in the snow to class to present to the professor. Ugh.

I really don’t miss that process at all! I have just finished “The Art and Business of Surface Pattern Design”. These modules (there are 3) have taught me all that I need to know about designing for the industry using today’s technology, tools, and networking resources. Bravo to Rachael Taylor and Beth Nicholls for creating such  fantastic and fun e-courses!!! I’ve also met and made some fabulous new friends from all around the world.


  1. I really had no clue as to what it use to be like- thanks for the insight. I will now try to stop cursing Illustrator and photoshop… Loved seeing your “old’ work. julie

  2. I remember doing the same on my surface pattern course. So much work. Even stretching the paper took a while. So many tiny tiny brushes for the gouache. Students now have it so easy! The designs you did back then are very good though – and also very ‘now’ 🙂

    • Thanks so much Mels! I really love how some designers combine their painterly style with digitized images using photoshop. You really couldn’t do this before successfully. What I love is fiddling around with the colors on the computer, and getting them “just right”. I’m pretty good at picking out my colors, my main frustration was mixing my paint colors with the gouache. Talk about challenging!

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