katharine makes patterns

On a dark winter’s day, one of the things I like to do is curl up in my toasty home office, fire up Photoshop, turn on the Goon Show, and zone out with a little pattern designing. There’s something zen about mixing colours and shapes in a safe space. Maybe it hearkens back to childhood—colouring, using building blocks, playing a generic Tetris on the school computer. I often try to make my own argyle patterns to mostly disastrous results. Although I appreciate more organic patterns, I gravitate to the geometric. And that usually leads to punchy retro, mid-century influenced designs. None too surprising given my own preference for retro and vintage mid-century style.


The influx of print-on-demand DIY sites means consumers can customize anything from fabric to stickers to iGadget skins. I’m glad to have the option but I can see the potential for more ugly “design” being thrust into the world. (How long before animated gifs invade fashion and real world applications? City streets and shopping malls will be giant MySpace profile…blingees and spinning pizzas as far as the eye can bleed.) I feel like I’ve developed a personal style and affectations that has not spread to the average consumer. So it’s up to me to fill my own niche (dirty!).

I had the recent good fortune, thanks to my insatiable curiosity about the local publishing scene, to try out a couple of print-on-demand design-your-own-geegaw services. From a panel discussion at Design Exchange, I scored a discount code for Blurb.com. And from BookCampTO—an un-conference focused on the book industry—we got a gift card for GelaSkins. Through either of these sites I could’ve bought something pre-made, supported other designers and whatnot. But I have a chronic illness called Creativity.


What I wound up with was a nifty iPad skin from GelaSkins and a few little notebooks for jotting and doodling from Blurb. I did spent some time angsting over how to use Blurb (Do I create a portfolio? Make a scrapbook of my cats? Do something with Robot of Leisure stuff? Gak!) but settling on the ol’ blank notebook. Someone with greater ambition might chastise me for “wasting” this service but I panicked and was short on time to use the code before the expiry while juggling all the other things I seem to be working on.


Through Blurb and the print-on-demand fabric store Spoonflower, designers have the option to make their creations available for sale to other customers. You bet your bippy I’ll be doing this in the near future. Every little bit helps, right?

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