elizabeth silver

Designer Spotlight: Elizabeth Silver

Hello, please introduce yourself:

Hi, I'm a surface pattern designer Elizabeth Silver. I live on the east coast of the US, in Raleigh, North Carolina and I was an in-house textile designer for about 10 years before going freelance in 2012. Since then I've branched out into stationery, dinnerware, party paper and a bit of everything else, but no matter the substrate, I'll always be a pattern girl at heart!


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

'Just because it isn't easy doesn't mean you're not doing a good job.'

I've been exceedingly lucky in my life to have had the opportunity to study surface pattern design, get a job in my field right out of school, and be a valued member of all the design departments I've been a part of. Getting into freelancing and licensing has been a much slower build to success markers than I was really prepared for, despite working harder than I ever used to. I've been able to persevere and continue to have a positive attitude, confident that eventually I'll get where I'm going, but a younger Elizabeth Silver may not have been so optimistic.

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

I'd love to say I take a walk in the park and come back inspired and recharged, but the truth is, I think of myself as a designer more than an artist, and so much of my process is just about moving forward. When I feel like things aren't coming together the way I wish they were, I take a break from the project if I can, re-assess with fresh eyes, and also try to keep it in perspective. Not every design is going to be my favorite. All I can do is my best for that day or that design and press on.

What are your favourite design tools? 

A sketchbook, mechanical pencil, my Wacom tablet, Adobe Illustrator and the internet pretty much cover all the bases for me.

How would you describe your design process?

I go into my process and favorite resources in real detail in my new atly course (all about designing a licensing collection) but in short, my process is that of a true left-brained creative. I usually start with lists. My sketchbook is 30% writing and 70% drawing.

As far as apps go, Pinterest is a great place to gather and keep my references and inspiration and while I consider myself lucky to be equally proficient at Photoshop and Illustrator, I prefer Illustrator for my own work, because editing later for licensing clients tends to be much easier.

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

When I worked in-house as the print stylist for babyGap, besides the adorable patterns for 0-24 month olds, I was also in charge of designing the prints for boys underwear each season. At the time, that was a large category where I illustrated all types of novelty prints that made me smile. Essentially I spent my days drawing dinosaurs on skateboards and robot sharks, and really, what's more fun than that?

More recently, I've enjoyed expanding on and remixing some of my favorite collections to design art coasters for Studio M.

Who are your dream clients or what is your dream project

I'd love to have a capsule collection with Target, a line of home décor or stationery or both with my patterns and name all over it.

Where do you find inspiration?

I do a bi-monthly market trend board for my newsletter, so I am regularly scouring shopping sites, blogs, and instagram for that endeavor. It's been a great way to soak up ideas without focusing on how those trends apply to my style and work. A lack of focus while researching keeps me current without being too derivative.

When I'm long gone, I hope people remember me as:

Charismatic and colorful.