Tell us a little about yourself and how you became a surface pattern designer. My name is Megan Cabaj and I am a surface designer and mom of two from Alberta, Canada. I always loved art and tried every medium that I could get my hands on, but honestly, I never really knew all of the ways in which art could lead to a career. So instead, I went to University for a degree in psychology and worked with children with autism until having my own children. I had always daydreamed about doing something more creative while working from home, and with the onset of the pandemic, and my children being home again, only reinforced that need for flexibility. That was when I was lucky enough to discover surface design. It was the perfect balance of everything that I was looking for. It was my dream job that I never knew existed.
Have you taken any online classes that helped you with your surface design career? I can say without any doubt that Bonnie Christine’s Immersion changed everything for me. I had never opened Adobe Illustrator until taking Immersion in 2021, and by the end of the course, I had the tools to create fabric collections. I loved everything about it and would recommend it to anyone interested in surface design.
What mediums do you use to create your art? One of the reasons that I love surface design is that you can constantly explore new ideas and techniques. I love photography, so my designs often start with sketching from photos that I have taken. Black pen, watercolour paintings and linocut prints also often end up becoming designs. I use Procreate a lot as a step between paper and Adobe Illustrator. I love how easy adjustments can be made, and drawings cleaned up with the apple pencil.
Who or what influences your art? The biggest influence in my work is definitely nature. The colors, textures, and shapes that exist in nature amaze me. There is an endless supply of inspiration.
Tell us a little about your experiences with licensing your artwork. I would consider myself pretty new to the surface design world, but I am grateful for the opportunities that I have had thus far. I had a few small contracts early on that were great learning experiences, and am now fortunate enough to be licensing my designs with Hawthorne Supply Company. Licensing for fabrics was my dream from the beginning, and It is a pleasure to be working with such a wonderful company.
Do you sell any products directly through your website or print-on-demand sites?
Currently, my fabrics are sold only through Hawthorne Supply Company, but I have been recently enjoying designing silk scarfs and plan to have them for sale directly from my website soon.
Who is your dream client to work with? I don’t know that I have one specific dream client. I almost always design with children’s clothing and quilts in mind. I guess my dream would be to get to a point where I could walk into any fabric store and see my work. I love that people can buy my fabrics and create what they want with them. I would also really like to design wallpaper, I would love to see my art on nursery walls.
Do you have any advice about licensing or building a career in surface pattern design that you would like to share with our readers? I think that the most important thing is to be patient with yourself. Especially in today’s world, it can feel like we aren’t getting somewhere fast enough. You see someone else who is where you’d like to be, but you don’t see all the baby steps that they took to get there. I like the quote “Little by little, a little becomes a lot”, and I look at my journey in the world of surface design like that; as one of slow growth and that’s ok with me.
What is next for you and your business!
To keep exploring different art mediums, creating collections I love, and just see where it takes me!