Designer Spotlight: Julie Harrison

HELLO, PLEASE INTRODUCE YOURSELF:

My name is Julie Harrison and I’m a Graphic Designer and Surface Pattern Designer from beautiful Brisbane in Australia. I am the sole owner and designer of Pattern Play Studio (www.patternplaystudio.com), and it is my goal to design beautiful, bright, modern and playful pattern designs for both fabric and paper.

HAVE YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO BE SURFACE PATTERN DESIGNER/ILLUSTRATOR?

Growing up I was always creative and Art was my favourite subject at school. I started my career as a Graphic Designer in 2003. I had not heard of the term Surface Pattern Design until about 2009 when I discovered the excellent Print & Pattern blog by Bowie Style. That was when I had my creative ‘lightbulb’ moment. I knew EXACTLY the type of art and design I wanted to create, and what industry I wanted to work in.

At the time, I was working at a global Engineering company as a Senior Graphic Designer and, although I enjoyed designing for big, exciting projects and working on branding campaigns, I was not liking the corporate office environment anymore. I knew I needed to keep designing, but also knew it was time to switch industries. I made the decision in 2015 to make the shift to Surface Pattern Design. But I did it sensibly by changing to part-time work at first. This gave me one full day a week, plus nights and weekends to work towards my dream.

WHAT DOES A TYPICAL DAY/WEEK LOOK LIKE FOR YOU?

I love starting my day sitting at my desk with a tea or coffee in one hand, a pen and paper to write my ‘to do’ list in the other. I usually catch up on social media first and then check on my emails - all before 7:30 am. I am happy to say I am fully self-employed now and I love working from my little studio space. It’s been a year since I left my previous position and I have not looked back!

I am consulting in graphic design to support me financially, and my work and schedule is varied and flexible, which is great because I can focus and allocate time to developing designs for my surface pattern design folio. So, right now you could say my typical day consists of designing, creating, learning, researching, drawing, painting, completing administration tasks, phone meetings with clients and printers and planning marketing activities for Pattern Play Studio. There is always something to do.

IF YOU COULD GIVE YOUR 10 YEARS YOUNGER SELF ONE KEY PIECE OF ADVICE OR AN INSIGHT, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

Everyone says this and it’s true - be prepared to work hard and put yourself out of your comfort zone. It won’t come easily. Enjoy the process and the journey as you go because it takes time and you need to continue to keep searching for new opportunities every day and be brave in chasing those opportunities down. I’m still working on it! Also, relationships are the key. Work recommendations will come from people you know, so it’s important to treat people well and be easy to work with.

WHEN YOU FEEL STUCK OR IN A DESIGN RUT, HOW DO YOU GET YOURSELF OUT OF IT AND BACK ON TRACK?

I just try to give it time and try not to freak out. I acknowledge I have a creative block or that I’m in a design rut and I try to do something completely different. That might be watching a good movie, reading some creative magazines or even baking a cake. Or I’ll tackle the dreaded paperwork and sort out my tax receipts. That’s enough to make me reach for a paint brush or my mouse and mac again!

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITE DESIGN TOOLS?

I love my uni pens and sharpies  and of course my wacom tablet.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR DESIGN PROCESS? 

I start with quick sketches, research the subject matter, investigate colour palettes and by then I’m usually itching to get on my mac. Or if I’m painting, I set my desk up, get my paints ready, paper towel, fresh water and clean brushes. I need to have a tidy workspace in the beginning, but it sure doesn’t stay that way during the ‘creative’ process!

My favourite programs are both Illustrator and photoshop. I think it’s good to be skilled in using both programs efficiently. My artwork varies between flat, graphic and bold vector designs to bright, playful watercolours and paper cut collages – usually always florals! I also appreciate the workflow efficiency I get using my ipad pro and Procreate is a great app too.

WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVOURITE DESIGN PROJECTS TO DATE?

I am still relatively new to the surface pattern design industry so the projects I’m proud of to-date have all been through my own efforts and to aid in promoting Pattern Play Studio.

As part of my project experience in the world of surface pattern design, I’ve designed patterns for textiles and have used the fabulous services of Next State Print in Melbourne, Australia.

Infact, I recently upholstered a 1960’s Wrightbuilt wooden arm chair with a watercolour floral I designed and that Next State printed on their beautiful Organic Panama canvas. That chair sits in the corner of my studio and it puts a smile on my face every time I look at it. It’s comfy to sit in as I flick through design magazines too!

I haven’t had any artwork licensed yet. I mentioned in the beginning that this industry will take time, and I’m prepared to continue to work hard to make it a reality.

WHO ARE YOUR DREAM CLIENTS OR WHAT IS YOUR DREAM PROJECT?

I want to design for both paper and fabric. So to start with paper, I would love to design stationery for Madison Park Greetings or gift wrap for The Gift Wrap Company. Then the fabric dream would be to design a range of fabrics for Wyndham fabrics or Cloud9 or even to design for Marimekko. Why not aim high? I’m a firm believer in dreams.

THERE HAS BEEN AN ART SUPPLY SANCTION IMPOSED AND DESIGNERS ARE ONLY ALLOWED TO POSSESS 3 ITEMS/TOOLS, WHAT DO YOU CHOOSE?

Seriously hard to choose just three. But if I had to choose…Pen, Paper, Mac.

WHERE DO YOU FIND INSPIRATION?

Oh…good question. I love foraging in old flea markets or antique stores. I flick through old books or home and decorating magazines, and sometimes I look at Pinterest. I’m very mindful to get off-line a lot, however, and do my own research and think of my own solutions. I notice patterns in nature, find inspiration in my travel adventures and the photos I take and remember vividly my childhood and the bright bold florals of the 1970’s.

WHO WOULD YOU SAY THE GREATEST DESIGNER IS?

William Morris, without a doubt.

WHEN I'M LONG GONE:

I hope to be remembered as a kind, friendly, and genuine person who was always supportive and ready to help lend a hand or an ear. And someone who also happened to be an amazing designer.

Where you can find me:

Website: www.patternplaystudio.com

Instagram: @patternplaystudio

Twitter: @patternplayart   (patternplay studio was too long…..)

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/patternplaystudio