Tell us a little about yourself and how you came to be a surface designer.
My name is Lucia and I'm a surface pattern designer working under the name Deinki Studio from my home in Germany. Although I knew about patterns from my childhood, as my father managed the printing division of a textile factory, and also from my degree in fashion design, I really got into it in 2018 after the birth of my second child. I didn't want to go back to a fulltime job, even as a freelancer, so I was looking for ways to expand my knowledge and somehow stumbled upon Skillshare and learned from teachers like Bonnie Christine, Elizabeth Olwen, Mel Armstrong, Shanon McNab and so many more. In January 2019, I bought my domain name, started creating pattern collections and haven't stopped since, having found a new passion.
What influences your art the most?
My biggest influences are my children and their ideas and adventures. Nature and the woods near my home are also a great source of inspiration. I love to go for walks and observe creatures, plants, details and textures. Especially flowers, which is why I've been hosting a floral pattern design challenge called #30FlowersInMyStyle for the past few years.
What mediums do you use to create your art?
I can't live without my sketchbook, my iPad to digitize the motifs in Adobe Fresco, and Adobe Illustrator to create the patterns. But that can change. Recently I made some prints by cutting pieces of paper and had a lot of fun. When I first started, I mostly painted all the designs and then digitized them. I tried Procreate, but somehow I just can't work with it.
Your focus is primarily on fabric design for the children's market. What inspired you to create for that market in particular?
In my last years as a fashion designer for a design agency, I was in charge of creating the children's collections. After becoming a mother, I knew I wanted to create for the young at heart, whether they be children or adults, who are not afraid to embrace their inner child with colorful and whimsical patterns
Do you work with a licensing agent or do you approach companies on your own?
It's an interesting mix of being approached, approaching companies myself, working with textile or art studios, and creating patterns for my freelance fashion design clients. Most of the people who contact me found me on Instagram.
Tell us a little bit about the most exciting collaboration/licensing opportunity you've had so far.
There were a lot of really exciting projects. For example, working with Kinder Cloth Diapers twice and seeing my prints on cute little babies was amazing. Their values as a company are the same as mine, so it was a pleasure to work with them. More recently, licensing my prints for fabric with a fabric company here in Germany called Lillestoff has allowed me to see what the sewers make of the fabrics, which brings me great joy. There are many more that are protected by an *NDA ;-)
Do you feel it's difficult to get established in the surface pattern design industry and how long did it take you before you felt like you were gaining traction with selling/licensing your designs? I think like anything in life, you have to find the perfect balance between doing the work, being patient, being consistent, and following your gut. Nowadays there is so much information out there about surface pattern design, which is amazing because you get different advice from different successful artists and designers, but at the same time it can be confusing because you keep getting contradictory advice. Also, as humans in this age, we are very impatient and want to have everything figured out like yesterday. And sometimes things just take time, like getting a licensing deal, finding a style that feels like you, that allows you to express the stories you want to tell. The hustle mentality can also be counterproductive, and I'm guilty of spending way too much time working and not resting enough. The thing is, stress kills creativity. After almost 5 years in business, I'm slowly learning how to balance everything. In terms of how long it took me to get some traction, it must have been a year or two, but I accepted conditions that I wouldn't accept now. We all grow as people and as designers or even as business owners.
You also sell your designs retail on Spoonflower. Has Spoonflower been a large portion of your business or is it a smaller portion? I have a Spoonflower shop and a few sales here and there. Every year I promise myself to participate in more design challenges, but I can't seem to keep that promise. I'm sure it would work better if I focused more on the shop, like improving SEO, descriptions, tags, etc. But I guess I have too many balls in the air for that right now; hopefully in the near future because I love working with makers and Spoonflower is a great platform with a very supportive community. It might seem like it's super saturated, but if you really want to make it on Spoonflower, then you should have a strategy around it and focus on that.
What's next for you in your artistic endeavors? Are there any other companies or designers you would like to collaborate with?
As a creative, I'm full of ideas for projects, but I need to give them some structure and realistically plan what to do and when. There are a lot of companies I'd like to work with, especially children's clothing or home decor companies like Vertbaudet and Lilipinso from France, Bumkins Kids or Kite Kids from the UK, to name a few.
Would you like to share any advice you have for designers who are considering licensing their artwork? To all the beginners out there, start cataloging your prints from the beginning. It took me a whole month to catalog all my prints when I had about 400 patterns, including tags, categories, and a nice layout, so the sooner you start, the better. Also, follow through when pitching! Come up with a realistic system that allows you to pitch frequently, but most importantly, reminds you to follow up, stay in touch and build a relationship with the brand owner or art director. Forget copy-paste messages, you can tell right away and it doesn't do anyone any favors. Invest the time to craft a short, friendly, and professional email (I know, easier said than done); remember, there is a human being on the other side, a person just like you and me.