Tried and True Courses, Podcasts, and Resources for Surface Designers
I love learning. Expanding my mind and putting pieces together inspires me to keep going and growing. And one question often leads me to others, so there's always something new to learn about. And when you're running a creative business, having a list of resources that someone else has vetted can be an invaluable way to go about figuring out what's ahead.
With that in mind, I've gathered a list of my favorite resources--everything from courses, podcasts, books, and other resources centered on creativity and surface design to give you a great start if you're putting together your own education. It's also full of resources that I've added along the way as I've come into a more intermediate/advanced place and found my needs changing.
This list is a lot, so don't feel like you need to jump into it all and definitely don't try to do it all at the same time. Maybe you dip your toe into a new podcast or check out a free resource. Perhaps you pick one course to invest in for the year. Maybe you're in the middle of your career and just need something to reinvigorate you. No matter what your need is, I believe there's something here you can learn.
To make it easier to navigate, I'm including a key to help you decide which resources to look into at the beginning, intermediate, and advanced stages of your surface pattern career.
(B) = Beginning stages; these will give you a great foundation.
(I) = You've got the basics down, and are ready to figure out what the messy middle holds for you.
(A) = Your business is off to a great start and you're ready to dive into more income streams and ideas.
(ALL) = This is a great resource for every level.
*There are a few affiliate links here, but only for things I really have found valuable in my own career.
Immersion. This is the course that taught me Illustrator better and was the foundation for learning to create patterns and collections. It's a deep dive into Illustrator and pattern creation but only touches on what to do after you've created a collection. It's amazing if you're just getting started. It only opens once a year in February, so I've linked you to a waitlist if you're interested. (B)
Foundations. This is actually small group coaching for when you're setting up your creative business, and it was SO good for me. I needed someone to hold my hand through all the scary parts of creating an official business, getting clear on my vision, and just moving forward scared. Colleen is a perfect mentor and coach for this, and if you're just getting started, I wholeheartedly recommend it. Colleen also offers other coaching options, so you can find what works best for you. (B)
Repertoire. Total game changer. Take your art to the next level with this one. You'll learn over 30 pattern types with their histories and characteristics and be able to create them at the end. Working through the 10-week course immediately boosted my game as I came out of it with an entirely new body of work that got me several licensing deals within the first 2 weeks of sending it out. (I/A)
Leverage Your Art. Want to know what possible directions you can go with you art once it's created? Stacie will blow your mind with the breadth of ideas and experience. Just don't think you have to do it all. This course is energetic and full, while staying wide instead of deep. It's one I have come back to when I need to reference how to get started on a new idea. Building different income streams takes time, so pick one and come back to more ideas later. This course opens in August but I only recommend it if you're established a little and looking for new avenues of income. (I)
Artful Pricing & Negotiation. If you're pitching your work, you need this course. After taking it, I feel more confident walking through the pricing and negotiation process which feels really daunting when you first encounter it. I can see where I went wrong in my first few collaborations, and I am so much more aware of what goes into making a great contract for both parties. This course is always open and you take it on your own timeline. (I/A)
Secrets to Sourcing Overseas. Rebecca walks you through navigating overseas manufacturing and gets you started with getting your artwork onto actual product. It's quick, digestable, and affordable. (I/A)
The Creative Professional. This podcast with Bonnie Christine covers everything from getting started to hosting retreats. I feel like its geared toward the beginning and advanced stages, while the intermediate stage sometimes feels left out. It's one where I listen to most episodes unless they're things I'm not interested in like hosting events or topics I'm not ready to tackle like hiring. (All)
The Tillage Podcast. A mindful and inspiring podcast with Shirlee Fisher about preparing the way for your creative business. I love her interviews and the way she dives into mindset. (All)
Proof to Product. This podcast by Katie Hunt is specifically geared towards wholesale and product-based businesses. While there are nuggets if you're not interested in wholesaling, that's the focus. (I/A)
Goal Digger Podcast. The Goal Digger is full of honest, often actionable business and marketing advice. She also dives into more personal topics often, so I skip those and go back to past episodes that better match what information I'm trying to glean. (I/A)
The Print Life Podcast. Leslie has worked in-house, as a freelance designer and art director, and is now the owner of a boutique print studio, and her depth of knowledge is powerful. While she focuses on the fashion industry, the application and real-life steps are refreshing for any surface designer. (All)
The Patternpedia. This extensive (free) resource put together by Barbel Dressler is so helpful when you're getting started. It defines different pattern types including examples so it's easy to understand. (All)
Skillshare. So many courses on pretty much everything creative. If you have a small budget but want lots of resources, a Skillshare membership is a great option. You can glean as much as you want for the duration of your membership. A lot of great teachers start on Skillshare and you can learn so much from them. I have taken classes on everything from making mockups to creating historical patterns to using Procreate to workflow and journaling. It's definitely worth the investment for what you can get out of it. (If you don't already have an account, you can get your first month free and 40% off your first payment through this link. Pretty cool!) (All)
Brand Builders Group. If you want to create a strong personal brand and are ready to put in the work, this group of brand strategists will walk you through how to do it. In the right order. From the ground up, this covers the branding and business side of things so well. It's intense and slow work, but it's important work. If this seems interesting to you, either comment below or email me and I'll get you a referral. (All)