It’s no secret that Spoonflower is the world’s largest marketplace of indie pattern designs (over 1 million designs and growing!), but did you know that you can print any design on our 20+ fabrics, our 3 wallpaper offerings and on a growing collection of unique made-for-you home decor that you can’t find anywhere else. Read below as four designers from the Spoonflower Marketplace share a behind-the-scenes look at their work, their favorite design tools, and the things that inspire them most.
Meet the Featured Designers
Alyson Toone of The United States describes her work as, “Geometric abstract modernist maximalism influenced by West African wax fabric and the Bauhaus.” She notes that the color Fushia best expresses her personality because it’s, “bright, feminine and unexpected.”
Daria Nokso from Russia creates playful designs full of, “Dynamic cuteness all with a touch of texture.” As far as colors go, Daria says she gravitates towards greyscale, especially Steel and Anchor shades. “Maybe it’s because the grey color allows me to see the texture of a surface more vividly, and I love textures.”
Marta Strausa from Latvia has a painterly style and says making patterns that feature animals and food are some of her favorite subjects. When asked what color best describes her personality, Marta responds, “I like purple and all shades of it but there’s not one particular color that describes me. It is dependent on my mood I guess.”
Kristin Nohe Juchs of The United States has a love for quirky linework and promises bright color and endless joy within her designs. For Kristin, Turquoise is her go-to color, “It’s bright, fun and, spirited! I can be a little over the top sometimes.”
What do you listen to when you’re creating?
Alyson: I am an avid podcast and audiobook listener. I am a fan of This American Life and history podcasts. As a lover of fiction, I love learning about the lives of other people.
Daria: I prefer silence most of the time. Otherwise, it’s British/American music from the 1940s.
Marta: Mostly I work in silence, but when I listen to music it is dance, hip-hop and pop music.
Kristin: I always have a documentary or informational podcast playing while I create. I love learning new things about the world and other people.
What influences or inspires your work?
Alyson: Science and social studies were my favorite subjects in school. Therefore I am influenced by molecules, organic forms in nature, and other cultures. I love the saturated colors of West African wax fabrics, the efficient geometry of the Bauhaus Movement, and the jazz-inspired patterns of Sonia Delaunay. All of these influences tell a story of nature and humanity.
Daria: Interesting color combinations, experimenting with art materials and seeing the beautiful illustrations from other artists are all great sources of inspiration. And, the Pinterest app is my happy place.
Marta: Everything around me. Often I walk outdoors, see some objects or animals and think that I want to paint them and they would look great in a pattern.
Kristin: I think material culture and the world around me definitely influences my work. Everyday objects, fun food, and florals are some of my favorite things to draw. Quirky items and fun collections really inspire me. When I worked at an antique store as a teenager, I used to carry around a little sketchbook in my apron to draw fun vintage items.
Share a defining moment that shaped your creative path:
Alyson: My mother is the biggest influence in my life. She is an artist who sacrificed some of her personal pursuits for us, her children. She put so much into raising us to pursue our own dreams. Her work is always an inspiration to my own. She creates abstract work with clean lines like the ones in my own work. I love that she doesn’t feel like she needs to define her work or prescribe to a certain style. She creates what truly comes from her heart.
Daria: When I started to leave my home studio searching for the local art community. I found amazing supportive people and got a lot of courage for experimenting in my art practice.
Marta: I studied fashion and graphic design and have always been into the arts, but about 5 years ago I was watching some Skillshare videos and learned to make repeating patterns. From then on, I was hooked. I also like to sew and it’s so fun and exciting to sew something with fabric I designed.
Kristin: Out of art school I landed a job in Minneapolis designing holiday print and pattern for Target. I learned a ton about designing for trendy mass markets and gained so much knowledge of design, business, and creative strategy from my co-workers there. After 4 years, and a mass layoff, I took that knowledge and broke out on my own, ramping up my surface design portfolio and starting a stationery business with my mom called Yellow Paper House.
What are your favorite design tools?
Alyson: Pens and watercolors are my go-to tools for creating initial sketches. I use Adobe® Illustrator and Photoshop pretty frequently. I also like to use fabric dyeing techniques like shibori.
Daria: I love watercolor and ink textures, but most of the time I create my illustrations and patterns using only Photoshop and my graphic tablet. Digital tools offer so many opportunities, that I won’t ever get tired of exploring them. My current favorite trick is to combine scanned hand-painted texture (often it’s watercolor) with smooth digital line drawing.
Marta: I like to paint with acrylics and watercolor, but recently I got myself an iPad and now I mostly create digitally in Procreate.
Kristin: I work both traditionally and digitally. First I start with technical pens and markers, brush and ink, or watercolor. My favorite darkest, best for scanning, black ink is Dr. Ph. Martin’s Black Star Waterproof Matte India Ink. Then I scan everything into Adobe Photoshop to create and color my pattern. Sometimes I use Adobe Illustrator if the work calls for it. Lately, I’ve been exploring Procreate on iPad too!
How do you get out of a design rut?
Alyson: Sometimes to get out of a rut, I go for a walk in nature. Reconnecting with nature through exercise get my creative juices flowing. Then, I just start making things. Often it’s pretty ugly but if I keeping creating, I’ll make something that I love.
Daria: I go explore something new: plasticine animation, finger painting, origami, etc. It could be anything out of my usual routine and better if it requires handcrafting. I love the saying, “The change is as good as a rest”.
Marta: It doesn’t happen to me often, but if I run out of ideas I try to just rest. Actually, I have many ideas that I want to create, but I don’t always have the time, so I write them down in a notebook and look them up later when searching for inspiration.
Kristin: I just draw! Pushing through a rut is the only thing that works for me. You have to make ten bad drawings for every one good drawing. Not everything I make will be a slam dunk, but I will learn and grow from every piece of work that I create.
Tell us 3 fun facts about yourself:
Alyson: I am an embroidery artist, I teach workshops in Los Angeles, CA about creative problem solving through crafts, and I cherish my backyard garden which is also sometimes my studio.
Daria: I’m in love with beautiful textiles. People think I’m self-assured, but in fact, I just forget that I’m afraid sometimes. I’m also an exceptionally good singer in my dreams.
Marta: I keep African giant snails as pets, I like to sing in the car while driving and my favourite book/movie is Harry Potter.
Kristin: I met my husband in our high school gym class, I can spin my own yarn and I worked in an antique store for 6 years as a teenager.
What are your current design goals?
Alyson: I would love to create designs for licensed products that encourage others to be creative. Those products would include fabrics, sketchbook covers, coloring books, and embroidery patterns. I teach people to design through creative projects so that is always the focus of my work.
Daria: I want to become more fluent in my design language and I’d like to make several solid pattern collections for licensing.
Marta: I want to improve my digital painting skills and continue to develop a personal style.
Kristin: I hope to continue to build my pattern portfolio and experiment with more traditional media in my surface design work. I also want to dive into more complex patterns and broaden my personal imagery. I have a whole notebook full of ideas on what I want to draw in the future! Too many ideas, and too little time.
Advice for designers who want to create new collections in the coming year?
Daria: My working process is usually as follows: 1) Collect a mood board 2) Choose a medium and a style 3) Pick out the color scheme 4) Expand on the collection. Some patterns should be essential in the collection, others are supplemental and more “basic” 5) Make rough sketches for each pattern 6) Finish all artworks
This year I’m going to be more fearless and creative than usual in my designs. For me, it means setting up a small timeframe for work because I could overthink each step and work on the same piece for months.
Kristin: I keep a notebook dedicated to jotting down new ideas for patterns. Sometimes themes show up and I run with them for a new collection. I also like to think about end-use. How can I maximize this collection for people who want prints in different scales, colors, and coordinates? I also recently created a personal color palette and have been trying to use consistent colors throughout my work. I got swatches printed on a bunch of different Spoonflower fabrics, so I can reference them while I design. This helps to give my work the ability to mix and match!
In celebration of International Women’s Day, we asked our featured designers to answer an additional question…
What personal accomplishment are you most proud of?
Alyson: I feel that my biggest accomplishment had been creating a new chapter after leaving a career as a fashion designer in New York City. In my former career, it was a lucrative 9 to 5 but my voice was muted. Now I am on a different coast, sharing my life with the man I love, and creating things that I am excited about. I get to teach people how to be creative every day through my local workshops.
Is there a woman in your life who’s made an impact on your creative development?
Daria: Each stage of my evolution as a freelance artist was inspired and influenced by the work of female illustrators and creators from different parts of the world; the impact of female artists on my illustrator career is huge. Another big hero in this story is my Grandma, who gave me the habit to be creative. When I was a child, she spent a lot of time with me showing different art techniques. We made collages, paper sculptures, paintings, embroidery, knitting and so many more. She taught me how to recognize figures and objects in abstract textures and paint splatters, and this approach later defined my creative method and my artistic style. I’m so grateful to have her in my life.