My Process to Create a New Print Collection
I have learned surface pattern design over the past 2 years and I put in place a process which I find works well for me. It encompasses 12 steps which I will take you through individually. I chose my bold exotic collection to demonstrate these 12 steps which I hope will be helpful for your next print collection development.
Step 1 - Collect inspiration & create a moodboard
You will need to collect inspiration to create a moodboard that will be the base of your collection. You can find inspiration anywhere from Pinterest (check my Bold Exotic board on Pinterest as an example), you can also collect inspiration on Instagram by saving pictures you like and compiling them within a collection on your instagram account. This is only visible to you. Pinterest let you choose if you wish for the board to be public or private. An other very handy trick to find the images you liked in Instagram is by clicking the hamburger menu then go into your settings and click the 4th option from the top "posts you've liked". You can of course also find inspiration on Flickr, Behance to only name a few. The internet is your oyster. I also love going for walks and take my own pictures. I can then draw from these pictures without risking any copyright issues.
Step 2 - Research 3 artists and collect their work into a moodboard (optional step)
I enjoy researching a bit deeper 2 to 3 artists that will inspire me while I develop my collection. This actually is pretty useful as it allows you to get a sense of other artists world and mood, compare the work from each one of them and ask yourself what you like about their work, what is different, compare the mood, the colors, the compositions and structure of their prints. That usually rally helps me to drilling down my inspiration and become more specific with my own collection. Of course this is not about copying these artist, it is only a more in depth study of artists that have developed collections in the past that resonate with the collection you are about to start working on.
Step 3 - Market, target audience, keywords and thumbnails
Market and target audience
In this step, I like to write down the market I will be designing for and the general target audience. For instance it could be for the activewear market, quilt market, high end fashion, or street style. In my case I will keep it to young unisex ready-to-wear fashion with a little touch of french elegance and slight retro feel. And then I like to be a bit more specific about my audience. I am designing this collection for a young audience (18 to 28), geared towards unisex. Of course, here you can go much further and write down more characteristics about your audience, what they like to do, hobbies they have, where they live, where they shop... In my case, I like to think they shop at Princess TamTam and Zara for instance. This exercise is like developing personas. The more specific you will be the more specific you will get with designing your collection. It also depends on your timeframe and when you need the collection to be done by. In my case here, i am giving myself 3 to 4 weeks for 5 prints and so as much as I would like to dig deeper into my audience, I will just keep it fairly top level.
Keywords and thumbnails
Once I am done defining my market and my audience, I start listing out 10 to 15 keywords that will define my collection. This will help you nail down the style and will help you select the best, most relevant pieces you will be creating. As you develop a collection, there will be successes and some pieces that might look good but won't fit within the overall collection. Not that you should toss these pieces out, they can be either reworked to fit or used in another collection. Plus there are always trials and errors. It is part of the creative process. These trials are what makes you grow because you basically see what is not working and learn from it. They are a necessary "evil". Once I have listed out my keywords, I like to draw 10 to 15 squares on pieces of paper and start working on thumbnails. These can be a bit tricky and the end result might be quite different but it gives you an idea of what type of graphics and also scaling you gonna want to work with. So for instance, in this collection I wanted a spaced out all over graphic floral print, a graphic all over floral print, a silhouette all over leaf print and a stripe print. The thumbnails help you drill down what sort of elements you will need to sketch and give you a tighter vision of what the collection will need in order to be complete, balanced and cohesive.