DSPS Blog Tour | The perks of being a Surface Pattern Designer


First of all thank you so much for taking a little time to stop by my blog. You’ve probably came through Barbara’s blog and for tomorrow you will be able to continue the tour over at Amanda’s blog. You can check out the full schedule over at Bonnie’s blog here and if you’re interested on purchasing the course you can find it here. Also as a part of the blog tour, Bonnie is offering ONE FREE MONTH for the Roost Tribe.

As you all know, last month we had the opportunity of taking Bonnie’s class over at Creativelive and for me, it was one of the best learning experiences I’ve had in a while. It was that little push I needed to feel a little more confident about my work since I’ve learned quite a few tricks along the way. I filled three A4 papers with notes! BACK AND FRONT! I thought I already knew a lot of Illustrator, but after those three days I came to the conclusion I had hidden gems all over the software. I remember that at some point everyone in the studio gasped or just stared at Bonnie marveled when she introduced the recolor artwork tool. I think like me, some people probably heard some bells ringing in the background when we saw what that tool could do. Talk about time saving that tool have help me save many working hours. I learned so much and couldn’t be happier when this opportunity came out. So for today, I’m going to talk about some little aspects that I hope most of you will relate and hopefully, it will make you laugh along the way. I believe that knowing that you’re not alone and having a community by your side that goes through the same obstacles and conquers, really helps you grow as a creative individual so, with no further delay, I present to you:


1. Those times where after proudly assembling the layout, you proceed to drag the design into the swatches panel (in Adobe Illustrator) and  then you click on a random shape to test the pattern and there’s one, no two, diagonal or/and vertical white what the heck lines ready to make you spend at least another half hour checking the whole assemble of the pattern to see if anything went wrong. And after you made 10000x zoom on it, they disappear and you just sigh and give in to the render issues of technology.

The first time I got this lines I thought I was doing something wrong, it was nerve racking because I searched all around the web for every tutorial and forum in hope of finding a solution till I came across one that mentioned it was some sort of software bug or something. So now I test it out with the different zooms and when I’m not 100% sure I test print it just to make sure.

2. When you’re really happy with the design and layout of your pattern and you start playing with the recolor artwork tool and 5 minutes later your screen is running out of free space to place another version because you have now not one, not three but probably at least five color options to choose from. And since you like all of them, some probably more than other, you ask around which one they prefer and by the end of what it looks like a fierce competition, most of the time you go back to not being able to decide which one you like the most because you reach a tie between all of them. Determinate to come back to it later you hit save hoping that tomorrow you’ll look again and one of them will “scream” louder. “With great power, comes tough decisions” by the recolor artwork tool.

3. The mockup fever! Quest! Demand! I couldn’t pick a name but you know what I’m talking about. If you’ve reached this phase you’re probably on the right track. You have one pattern or maybe a mini collection, you’ve managed to pick two color combinations (you decided to ask again, this time you even asked the lady in the grocery shop) and now it’s time to “fake it, till you make it” (or till someone else do it for you in case you work with a manufacturer). You start with some pillows, maybe a phone case and last thing you know you’re already making mockups of your family member’s walls and you have enough surfaces to decorate a shop window.

Seeing my patterns on actual products (well not actual but you know what I mean) makes me really happy and keeps me motivated to keep creating. Sometimes it even helps me pass through the phase of picking the colors because it shows me how some color palettes work better than others depending on the surface you’re applying it in the end.

4. *DANGER* the following event might trigger some monstrous painful memories. Proceed with caution. That time when you’re in the middle of tweaking some bits and pieces of your pattern (and you really like where it’s going) and suddenly Illustrator/Photoshop decides to freeze, followed by a crash.
…                       … …     …………
And… you see yourself going through the five stages of PL (Pattern Loss):

Denial: “This didn’t happen right? Right?! Maybe I saved it… maybe if I don’t do anything it will go back up…I’ll just go grab something to the kitchen and when I come back it will be back up…”

Anger: @3!#AAH Whyyyyy?! At this point you blame the computer, you blame the internet, you blame the software, you blame the neighbor that is washing the car outside, you blame that slice of cake you ate a few hours ago.

Bargaining: That stage where we start negotiation with our laptops: “If you don’t crash I promise I’ll let you rest one full day. PLEASE!!” (Am I the only one that talks to her laptop?)

Depression: It happened. There’s not ctrl-Z at this point. You sob a little and in case it is a work that has a deadline for tomorrow you sob a lot till your tablet runs a little pond.

Acceptance: You tell yourself it wasn’t the end of the world, that it could be worse. You just lost three hours of work, no big right? (*twitch eye*) You count to ten, sometimes eleven while you open once again the software to start again.

I think Bonnie talked about this crashes and someone in the chat mentioned a plugin that auto saves the files. Does anyone know the name of the plugin? Have anyone tried it and if so, does it work?

5. The moment when you just finished the pattern/collection and you’re feeling a mix of emotions: you feel proud, relieved, anxious, optimistic, passionate but above all happy for being able to do what you love. You’ve created something that you really enjoy and hopefully you’ll be able to captivate the audience/market with it. For me and I bet for you too, that’s one of the best moments of the whole process and the best perk of being a surface pattern designer: being able to love what we do, and to do/create what we love.

To be continued… ?

And that’s it. Sorry if it was a little long, if you’re reading this, thank you for being here long enough to read the whole thing. I just tried to compile some bits of struggles that sometimes happen to me. Did any of these ever happen to any of you? Which one of the above relates more to you? If you can think of another or just want to add something to the ones above, feel free to leave a comment bellow mentioning it, I would love to read about them. Also to show my thanks for stopping by I’ve created a blog planner similar to what I use now for you to download and use it on your blog if you want.

blog planner

There are two sheets: one is focused on a calendar and on going tasks for the month you’re in and the second is more related with long term goals. I hope it helps some of you that are taking the first steps into the blogging world since this system proved to be the most efficient when I took mine. If you end up using it I would be very happy to know that you did. You can download them as a pdf here. The pattern I used for the cover and for the blog planner is a variation of the one I used on this month’s calendar.

To finish my turn on the blog tour I would like to share a quote that I think that applies really well to most of us, either we’re starting out or just taking one step at a time:

“Enjoy it. Because it’s happening.” – Stephen Chbosky.

Note: all images, patterns and designs are © Sofia Cardoso, unless otherwise stated. You may not reproduce, re-create or sell in any way, but please feel free to download for your own personal use. Thank you.



  1. Sofia, You crack me up! When I was in my first semester of college, I had a professor who stressed the importance of saving early and often. In the middle of lab time, he would flip a switch at random which turned off everyone’s computer. *Moans and groans* Needless to say, we all learned quickly to SAVE SAVE SAVE! :)

    If you’re on a Mac, it seems that Mavericks will autosave and even pull up websites and programs that were up if the computer crashes. I’m not positive if it saved my files or not because I usually hit command+s every few minutes out of habit. Anyway, I haven’t looked into it thoroughly, but I did find this app you could check out. https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/ai-auto-save/id877602617?mt=12

    Also, I said this already on FB, but I love your pattern and color palette. I’ve always liked green and pink together.

    1. Ahah that makes me really happy knowing that my attempt of introducing some little humor into the subject was successful.
      Omg that sound terrible, I bet everyone will always remember that teacher ahah. If it was me in that class I think I would be hitting ctrl+save every 30 seconds and working with an eye on the screen and the other on the teacher xD
      I’m not on Mac (yet) but I’ll check it out for future reference, thank you for your help and feedback Esther :)

  2. Sofia,
    What a great blog entry! I found myself chuckling and nodding my head in agreement at your perks of being a surface pattern designer!

    I agree wholeheartedly with you about having a community by my side. I know that in the courses I have taken that come with a FB group, the camaraderie and banter has proved to be just what i needed to keep pushing me forward. Outside of those groups, people tend to look at me funny when I share anything about designing. :)

    Thanks, again!

    1. I’m really happy to hear that Elaine, I really wanted to make you guys give a couple of chuckles while reading knowing that we can take out some humor from this little challenges :)
      Cocerning the community I totally agree and relate to it. Having a group of people that understand and “speak” the same language is really refreshing and keeps me motivated.

  3. Ah, definitely relate to the Pattern Loss!! :) I had that happen a few times and that was before I realized it doesn’t auto-save…I don’t know why I thought it would because we covered that in class. So a few times I also closed out of something without saving because I thought it was already saved. REALLY dumb of me but I’ll never do that again. Now I’m a habitual saver. LOL! :)

    1. It should auto save right? Man that would spare us a couple heart attacks. I had someone mentioning the name of the plugin over at facebook (thank you Kevin). It’s called AutoSaviour from Astute Graphics, it’s free and I had good references about it. I haven’t looked into it yet but I’ve also been told that for Mac users, Mavericks auto saves it (thank you Esther).

  4. This is so great! Totally brightened my day. I can relate to every single one of those moments!!! I need to find that autosave plugin! LOVE the blog planner too. Printing it right now!

    1. Ah thank you Emily, I hope it is helpful in some way. The calendar and goals proved to be the most efficient way for me to stay organized so hopefully it will works its magic with you too.
      Concerning the plugin right now I have two answers: AutoSaviour from Astute Graphics, and for Mac users, Mavericks auto saves too.

    1. Thank you Sheila. Sorry to hear about that but indeed I too have lost many hours of work because of these crashes. Haven’t tried the plugin yet but maybe that will be the answer.

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