Using Trends to Spark Creativity with Elizabeth Silver

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Hello, it’s been a while since the last post and I’m so excited to break the blog drought with a fabulous, guest video post from surface pattern designer, Elizabeth Silver!

Based on her many years as a creative, Elizabeth shares some great tips on how to use trends as a springboard for creative ideas.

Grab a doodle pad, pen, sit back and enjoy!

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Click to image below to download the prompts list Elizabeth mentions in her video and let your creative juices start flowing!

Be sure to show Elizabeth some love @esilverdesign and sign up to receive her monthly trend newsletter by visiting

Happy Creating!

UPDATE - Wallsauce Licensing Design Contest: Tips from the team!

As we have a really exciting competition to become a new licensed artist with wall mural and wallpaper company, Wallsauce is underway, I wanted to share some insights to give you the best opportunity of working with this great online company.

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I asked the Wallsauce team to share some insights about what sells well and why to pass on with you. Below you’ll find some handy tips along with example artwork.

Details of the design contest can be found here

Start with what you do well

Try starting with a current design in your portfolio which you really love. Scale it up and tweak it sit well on a feature wall.

Space Vs Density

Don’t be afraid to let your design breath, not every space has to be filled. But on the other hand, if your design is to go big and bold, don’t be afraid - embrace it! 

Examples of good sellers for something that doesn’t fill an entire space include:

Some examples of going big and bold that sell well:

Made to Measure

Wallsauce’s murals are made to measure, it’s therefore a good idea to consider how your design will work at different widths for all shapes of walls. Landscape is the common choice for customers but it may be that the customer’s dimensions are square and they need to select a portion of this design.


This design by Philip Straub is very popular. As you can see, for a wall 3m wide x 2m wide it looks fab:


It also looks great on a wall that’s 2m x 2m, even though the customer won’t get the whole image:


Here’s how it could look on a wall that’s 1m wide x 2m:


Metallic Illusion 

Metallics and glitter cannot be printed as special finishes, but will be printed as an image - which still looks great!

Here’s a collection that showcases this well:

I hope you found all the above info helpful. If you would like help with your design or feedback on you work in progress or finals before you upload, feel free to post in our private Facebook group tagging me or send me an email.

Don’t forget to checkout our Pinterest board if you need some inspiration. The theme is very open so be as literal or lose with the idea of Nature and above all have fun!

Best of luck,

Natalie x

FolioFocus Week 3: NEW Nautical!


Land Ahoy!

Last week’s focus was Nautical with a lovely new design perspective from our trend update. I’m so impressed with all the interpretations, I’m sure you will be too.

Alicia Cambridge

Alicia Cambridge

Next week is out catchup and review week, so I’ll be back the following week with the next showcase. Until then, enjoy the fab art below.

Classmate Showcase Gallery:

Registration to the current round of FolioFocus closes next week, if you’d like to join us, now’s the time!

FolioFocus Week 2: Sweet Greetings!

Design by Heather Kadani Marler

Design by Heather Kadani Marler

Another wonderful week of inspiration and fabulous design under our belt in the new FolioFocus class and I’m excited to share what our talented classmates came up with! The focus was on greeting cards with an added direction from the fun trend inspiration pack.

Take a look at the gallery below.

Classmate Showcase Gallery:

Registration to the current round of FolioFocus closes next week, if you’d like to join us, now’s the time!

FolioFocus Week 1: Floral Roundup


The newest round of FolioFocus, our online portfolio building workshop for artists who want to license and or sell their designs for use on products, just relaunched and I am SO excited already! The first brief and trend inspiration was interpreted in so many wonderful ways by our classmates - it’s a joy to see.

Take a look at the gallery below

Classmate Showcase Gallery:

Designer Competition & Great Opportunity with Wallsauce!

We have a really exciting opportunity to share with our community interested in licensing their art. Wallsauce, an online wall mural and photo wallpaper company are holding an exclusive competition for our Rise Design and Shine community for the first time.

So what’s it all about?

Designers have the chance to be added added to the Wallsauce website as their newest licensed artist, with their new collection for wall murals.

How do you take part?

Download the design brief, terms and inspiration to get started. Entrants will submit two coordinating wall mural designs to be considered for the prize. The Wallsauce team will shortlist and showcase their favourite submissions and the designs will be put to a vote in order to select the winner.

DEADLINE: Sunday 14th April (Midnight)

Download the info below

Designer Spotlight: Erin Dollar


Hello, please introduce yourself:

My name is Erin Dollar, and I’m a textile designer and surface pattern designer in San Diego, California. I launched Cotton & Flax, my collection of patterned textile home goods in 2012, and I opened my first retail shop last year!

Have you always wanted to be a designer/illustrator?

Not exactly! Like all kids, I was very creative when I was young, but I was part of the generation that watched Free Willy and immediately decided to be a marine biologist when I grew up. My creative side was at a soft simmer during my teenage years, and I took a lot of art and craft classes, including painting, ceramics, and photography. I had planned to major in Environmental Studies in college, but when I discovered the printmaking department, it was all over for me… I never wanted to leave. Discovering my creative passion as a newly minted adult sealed my fate, in a way.

How did you come to the current point you are at in your career?

When I first started working as an artist, I was working part-time jobs, and spending every spare minute in the studio. I would contribute art to gallery shows, and sell my work on Etsy -- at that point it looked more like a side hustle. I brought my artwork to some craft fairs, and the enthusiasm from shoppers encouraged me to put more work into my creative business, and consider the possibility that it could become my full time job.


Cotton & Flax began as a series of experiments with printing my artworks on fabric, which I built into a full collection. Making utilitarian goods really appealed to me, and by honing my sense of pattern design, it helped me create a distinct style for my work. As the business grew, I’ve partnered with brands on pattern licensing projects. As I continue to grow as an artist, these partnerships and collaborations allow me to experiment, and grow in new directions!

What is your design process?

All my patterns begin as ink drawings. I use sumi ink to draw/paint a pattern onto smooth paper, and then scan and edit in photoshop. I am certain that there are easier ways to design simple patterns, but I find that working on an iPad or computer to start makes my patterns feel too “perfect.” It takes away some of the charm of the hand drawn line.

My design process is usually centered around creating a pattern for a specific product, so I’m brainstorming color choices, and thinking about how the texture of the fabric will affect the design. For client projects, I’m often working from a design brief, so I am thinking about the best way to communicate the idea of the design through my minimalist modern lens.


What does a typical day look like for you?

I have a design studio in San Diego that’s part retail shop, which is where I work from most days. I arrive in the morning, check emails, package and ship out orders from my online shop, and then the afternoon is spent working on admin or design projects. On a good day, I get to grab coffee down the street with a friend or client, and brainstorm new creative projects.

When you feel stuck or in a design rut, how do you get yourself out of it and back on track?

I try to rest, and not beat myself up too much. Experimenting with a new technique or medium tends to help shake things up a bit.


What has been/have been some of your favourite design projects to date?

I’m very proud of the design work I’ve done for Cotton & Flax. Being in charge of the entire process, start to finish, is a huge undertaking, and I often forget to celebrate that fact!


I’ve created two fabric collections for Robert Kaufman Fabrics, Arroyo and Balboa. Both are overprinted on linen fabrics, much in the same way that I create work for Cotton & Flax, which has made this a dream partnership for me.

I created a collection of stationery for Scout Books, a company in my hometown of Portland, Oregon, that focuses on creating the coolest notebooks from recycled materials.

One of my favorite commissions from 2018 was a pair of silk scarves that I designed for Deseda. This was one of my first fashion collaborations, and it was so exciting when the samples arrived in my mailbox!

If you could go back 10 years and give your younger self one key piece of advice or an insight, what would it be?

Try to slow down and enjoy your successes more. Find as many like-minded creative folks to collaborate with as possible, and be generous with your time. Sleep more, and wear sunscreen.


There has been an art supply sanction imposed and designers are only allowed to possess 3 items/tools, what do you choose?

Oooh, that’s a tough one! My first two are staples of all my design projects these days: sumi ink, and smooth bristol paper. Almost every pattern in my collection has started with those two tools. I guess my practical side would pick my computer as the third tool… but that’s boring! Instead, I’ll say my Case for Making watercolors, which feel so special and rare to me that I treat them like gold.

Where do you find inspiration?

Walking! I believe that so much of being an artist and a designer is just noticing things, little details that others might miss. When I go on a walk, my brain stops whirring over all the items on my to-do list, and let’s me just daydream and observe.

Which designers, artists or individuals truly inspire you (past or present, living or dead)?

Anni Albers

Anni Albers

SO many: Anni Albers, Eva LeWitt, Yayoi Kusama, the quilters of Gees Bend, and Sigrid Calon come to mind. My friends inspire me constantly, Jen Hewett’s beautiful floral patterns always delight me, and Laure Joliet’s photos capture so much magic. I’m lucky to be surrounded by a truly creative community.

Where you can find me: (your website link, social media links)

You can learn more about me on my website, or you can get a peek at what I’m up to this week over on Instagram!