top of page
  • Writer's pictureEmma Sparks

Design: What is Surface Pattern Design?

Behind every whimsical floral print dress, every salty seashell bikini, every fancy table cloth - stands a talented Surface Pattern Designer.

But what exactly is Surface Pattern Design and how does art get onto products in the first place?

Put simply, Surface Pattern Design (or SPD for short) is the illustration and design work that companies feature on their fabrics and products.

You may have noticed SPD on products like;


Phone Cases


Beach Umbrellas

Pillowcases and Bedding


The list is really endless, but now you're becoming aware of SPD, you'll probably see it a lot more in your everyday life.

Here are a few of my designs featured on baby clothes, a notebook and wallpaper.

Think of your favourite printed pajamas, the company you buy them from may enlist the help of an artist to bring their vision to life. Sometimes, a brand will have in-house artists who design prints each season, or they may outsource to freelance artists and illustrators.

Some artists work for themselves, some are represented by agencies, and some may work for print studios.

A freelance artist (like myself), may have a library of pre-designed illustrations that have been turned into a seamless repeat pattern - meaning the design can be printed onto any surface without you being able to see where the design starts or stops, the repeated illustration flows over the whole product.

The SP designer may also receive a brief from the brand to create a new design or alter an existing design.

Once a brand has chosen which design they'll use, they buy the license to use the pattern for their products for an amount of time (or in perpetuity/forever). More on that in another blog post.

Surface Pattern Design is an exciting field to be in and one that seems to be growing every year.

If you're a brand looking to collaborate with a Surface Pattern Designer, please get in touch via my contact page :)


Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page