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How To Transit From An Artist To Pattern Designer?

by Designhill Tweet - in WTF

Changing Niches: Transition From Watercolor Artist To A Pattern Designer

Last updated on December 27th, 2022

Pattern illustration is amongst the most sought-after skills to create mesmerizing artwork with a perspective. To master the pattern and doodle art, artists are required to follow the footsteps and crucial advice from the expert illustrators. Therefore, Designhill decided to get in touch with a world-renowned illustrator – Shie Sison who holds the rich experience and can help you to walk on the right path while crafting the patterns. Have a look at WTF AMA with Shie Sison that will help you stick to the vital basics of the art.

When talking about pattern illustrations, we refer to those repeatedly appearing unique shapes that we see on fabrics, wallpapers, tiles, and many other surfaces. So, these patterns are a form of decoration and ornamentation to make a surface or product look impressive and unique. Most pattern illustrators draw inspiration from nature and historical references. They give patterns a unique look by using a wide range of colors so that customers can visualize the pattern.

Today, the patterns are available to the buyers in all motifs such as botanical, geometrical, nautical, bold stripes, and chinoiserie. While different styles of pattern illustrations trend these days, the simple style is still repeat-block repeat-stacks a shape on a grid that is not visible to the viewers. The illustrator uses brick/half-brick, drop/half-drop, diamond, etc. styles to create a pattern.

However, you can explore the world of pattern illustration and doodle only when you have mastered the art. You have to learn the basic and advanced skills of the illustration. Many budding pattern illustrators look for advice whenever they are stuck at some issue.

AMA With Pattern Expert Shie Sison

The new artists can learn a lot from expert advice from the experienced artists of the field. Considering that, Printshop by Designhill, a leading creative marketplace, decided to conduct an AMA with Shie Sison on answering all queries on the topic: Changing niches- Transition from watercolor artist to a pattern designer on 31st March 2020. The AMA with Shie was part of the 3-day digital art conference WTF’20 organized by PrintShop from 30th March to 1st April. Many renowned artists attended the conference and shared their experiences and ideas.

Shie Sison is a well-recognized artist and pattern illustrator. She is the founder of “Sison Designs” and has worked with several global and local brands. She has created personal custom artwork, logos, and wedding invitation designs and runs typography, calligraphy, and lettering based business.

During the AMA session, Shie gave her useful advice on a variety of crucial issues that new pattern illustrators confront with. She covered most of the aspects of illustrations.

Here Is the Video Of the AMA Session With Shie Sison

Here Are Some Key Points She Makes While Educating The Budding Pattern Illustrators On Different Aspects Of The Art

Designhill: How can we make our work more professional?

Shie Sison: It should start by building your online presence. Your intention should be to create artwork, and not just to post it. But your goal may be to get clients for the artwork if you want it to be seen and make a profit out of it.

Make sure that when you post it online, especially on Instagram, it looks neat and catchy. Many resources are accessible online to check how to post your artwork on Instagram and create your website for artwork and a portfolio.

Post On Daylight

When I post my artworks on Instagram, I make sure that I post all the time on daylight. I use daylight so that everything is neat and clean. That is also how I can get clients from those posts. I make sure that my artwork is centered. I put a few pieces to surround the post.

Designhill: How to use patterns in artworks?

Well, you can create patterns from artworks. When you create an artwork, it is either you create it already as a pattern, or you create your artwork on the computer and create a pattern out of it. I create artwork in two ways. Either I already create the pattern on that artwork, or I create the artwork and then edit it on Adobe Photoshop. That is how I work most of the time.

Designhill: How to target, engage, and make our niche interested in us in such a saturated market?

Shie Sison: One of the things that I researched and studied a lot about is my main goal. Years back, when I started my online presence, I told myself that I did not want to post just for its sake. I want to post my artworks on Instagram to get clients out of it.

Research Hashtags

So I started researching hashtags that had a lot of followers. A reason for using hashtags is that when I post artwork, sometimes people message me or email me that they saw this post that I put on Instagram. It’s just available, or will other companies message me? Hey, we saw that artwork of yours, it’s a grab. Is there a way we can reach out to you, as we can probably create the design out of it. So, for me, using hashtags is very important. That’s how I built my following and then my portfolio.

Designhill: How to drive inspiration from nature for patterns?

Shie Sison: You can see patterns everywhere. You just have to look between the lines. Whatever you see in front of you, use it, and create an artwork out of it. Use pen and ink, watercolor, wash, acrylic, anything, and practice and create just one artwork. You don’t have to fill the whole paper. Just create one piece of artwork. Then, from there, try to cut it out into a pattern.

You should also try to practice it in your mind. How would you like the artwork to be created into a pattern? You can play with it, move it randomly, and make a pattern like it is a single or a diagonal line. From there, if you feel like you want to add more to it, then create another artwork and add it. It is like a puzzle.

Designhill: How do you choose your color combinations while making the pattern?

Shie Sison: Use The Color Wheel

It would be best if you used the color wheel to pick the right color combination. If you’re not familiar with the color wheel, please research it. The color wheel gives you an idea of how to mix and match colors. There are different types of combinations that are analogous. You can get complementary colors from the color wheel. The wheel helps you change the hue, which is the lightness or darkness of a color. So. you should try to mix them. But if you do not like the combination, then move to another color.

Build Contrast

But before you do that, research about the color wheel and understand how it is done. If it is placed in the wheel, then, from there, you can do color combinations. If your pattern is dark, your background color should not be lighter than your pattern element. If your pattern is light, then you can play with your background with a darker color. It is just trial and error.

Designhill: What watercolors do you prefer to use?

Shie Sison: The watercolors that I mostly use right now are Van Gogh. Here, it is already in my palette. I have Van Gogh by Royal talents. And I sometimes use handmade watercolors by Viva and then also from London. There is also Koi. So actually it depends on what project I have to do.

Designhill: How do you make seamless patterns?

It is like creating a puzzle. When you create artwork, ensure that the element you see on one side is present on the other side as well. I created an element, drew it on paper, and cut it to create seamless patterns. And then I make a puzzle from it. I make sure that one side will also be seen on the other side. Then from there, you can repeat it.

Designhill: How do you digitize your artwork?

Shie Sison: I actually scan it to 300 DPI and then use Adobe Photoshop to clean it out, I sometimes use Procreate from my iPad to clean them. I sometimes use illustrator, but most of the time, I use Adobe Photoshop.

Designhill: What kind of investments were one of the most valuables to you in the switch?

Shie Sison: For me, the most important investment I made for my work was the Wacom tablet, which is to digitize my artwork and clean it on Adobe Photoshop. Then, my iPad and my Mac were a valuable investment. But I do not spend too much on watercolors, and I do not hoard them. Whatever watercolors I have are from 2016 that I still use. I don’t buy a lot of paper. What do I do with my block of watercolor papers? I cut them out so that I can save. If you scan it, you can expand it as long as you maintain the 300 PPI.

Designhill: How to Make Your patterns more interesting and more interactive or make them lively?

Shie Sison: I think you should pay attention to the use of elements and the colors for the pattern elements and the background. You should check the trends. Type in Google what are the trends in 2020 and then take note of many resources that come up in the search results. You will see the different color palettes that are unique and will stand out this year and in the coming year.

So, from there, whatever patterns you will make will be catchy. That will drive attention to your followers and clients that you can profit from what you do, especially if that’s your goal.

Designhill: How do you set a contract for a freelance pattern project for a client and how do you set prices?

Shie Sison: Right now, I am working with an art agent. She is the one dealing with all those contracts for me. So, I do not know much about how to make contracts. For me, working out a contract is a little heavy as it involves numbers. I think the contract is about researching its aspects. And, you have to create a contract based on industry standards to build confidence. You can also contact art directors and ask them what usual pricing they give to their artists. At the same time, you can also get an art agent to work that aspect out while you do your design.

Designhill: How to connect to you for work?

Shie Sison: You can check my website, or you can shoot me an email at

Designhill: How do you move from paper to digital without losing the Aquila texture?

Shie Sison: I understand that the question is, how do you make the art grip, or how do you make sure that you still have that watercolor feel when you scan it? First, you should have a good scanner that can scan at 300 dpi. You should also know how to use Adobe Photoshop to change the hue and saturation of your scanned artwork.

This is because when you scan an artwork, it is mostly less saturated already. After scanning, the scanned hue appears quite different from the actual one. So, to hype the hue up, you should have that basic knowledge in Adobe Photoshop in removing that hue and saturation. But make sure that you still have that watercolor feel from the actual art

Designhill: As you mentioned that we sometimes use Procreate. Have you ever made a pixelated pattern not vectorized, and do you think that without Photoshop or other vector programs, you can find contractors?

Shie Sison: I have done some artwork on Procreate, and I put it on Photoshop to enhance it. But usually, it is pixelated in Photoshop. Therefore, you have to transfer it to Illustrator to enlarge it or resize it without lessening the quality.

So, follow these vital tips from Shie Sison and make your pattern illustrations and doodle attractive to clients. But open your online store at PrintShop to sell the illustration works to clients. You will benefit from this POD platform by selling your art pieces at a higher profit margin. The site will also promote your store and drive potential customers to the store.

Wrapping Up

Pattern illustration gives a wide range of attractive art pieces that we can print on various surfaces such as fabrics, tiles, and wallpapers. But inexperienced illustrators make some avoidable mistakes. Shie Sison, a pattern illustrator expert, says that during the AMA, the use of the right elements, colors, and trends can help create unique patterns. She asks the illustrators to research hashtags and post artworks at the right time on Instagram to drive clients’ attention.

Sell Your Art Online

Designhill is the most reliable and fastest-growing custom graphic design crowdsourcing marketplace that connects a thriving community of graphic designers from across the globe with clients looking to source high quality graphic designs such as logo designs, banner designs, packaging designs, merchandise designs, web designs and many other designing works at affordable prices. In just six months of going live, the startup has helped more than 1500 businesses source unique graphic designs and has paid out more than $70000 to its ever-growing community of 29,000+ graphic designers, logo designers, visual artists and illustrators from all over the world. Facebook | Twitter | Google+

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