Samantha Hahn is a Brookyln-based artist that I’m a big fan of, especially since purchasing some work from her recently and seeing it in person. She’s so talented, her splashy hues jump from the page. So when she wrote to me recently asking about pattern design and turning patterns into products (other than prints), I wasn’t sure where to direct her. I’m asked this question quite regularly by readers and I often feel awkward answering since I have little experience in this area. Time to change that with your help!
So the question that Samantha and so many other designers out there have is: How do you take your patterns to the next level — from the drawing board to an actual product — textiles, wallpaper, gift wrap, etc?
When I think about companies like Amy Butler Design or Hable Construction, I see amazingly talented people who do most of the work in-house and then send it out to a mill to be produced. I think the Hable girls use a textile mill in Massachusetts, I know Fall River, MA has lots of mills that people work with but I have no idea how to even contact one and what the initial investment would be. I’m sure pricing varies due to quality and the amount of colors used. A one color textile would be less costly to produce than a multi-color pattern. And if you wanted to go eco-friendly that would be even more expensive.
Then there are designer who produce patterns and send them off to a licensing company and they do the rest for you. The rep may come back to you with news that a card manufacturer would like to purchase your image or a store like Urban Outfitters would like to turn your work into art on canvas and at that point, you negotiate a price and all the details around the product. But I’m going to stop talking now because I really don’t know that much about this.
I know Marisa Haedike has some experience in this area, as does Julia Rothman, Joy of Nantaka Joy, and Meg Mateo Ilasco so maybe these ladies can jump in and give some advice. Not to put anyone on the spot, I just look at these ladies as quite helpful and they have had a lot of success building their business taking patterns they’ve designed to the next level. Maybe they have some suggestions, links, or a few good books to suggest. Ashley G of Kitty Genius wrote about her recent experience with Urban Outfitters, AshleyG and Drew: Taking it to the Next Level While Staying Small, over on Etsy. Perhaps her words will be helpful to some of you.
I invite all readers to jump in if you can help by commenting below. Also ask any questions you may have on this topic in the comments section, too.
(images from samantha hahn)