Where do I find Inspiration?

Posted by Tahlia David on

Where do I find my inspiration for my designs?

As you can see if you have a look through my portfolio or shop, a lot of my designs come from nature and wildlife, which has always been a big influence on my work. I always just found I had a natural interest in the animals around me, especially when I moved to the countryside, and then moving away from it again to go to Uni in a city (Cardiff). 

My topics I focused on throughout school fluctuated from the natural to the weird, I just wanted to try out a range and see what I liked to do. When Uni came around I was quite enjoying buildings and architecture after a trip to London, which worked for my textiles work ( machine embroidery, big motif-filled cushion designs ) but as I started to drift towards the surface pattern, I found the full buildings were a struggle to make into the patterns that I was expected to make and that's when I had to sit down and evaluate what I wanted to do.

I had this idea that I could do both, mix the architecture with the more botanical stuff that was more expected, so I created a collection that included those angel statues from graveyards and then a variety of flowers too, the collection explored life and death and the contrast between the growing flowers and the cold stone of the architecture.

cyanotype image photography darkroom of architecture

I liked that collection, I think I could redo some bits with that same inspiration in mind, because some ideas are worth revisiting with a fresh perspective or style for sure.

The animal inspiration came from my surroundings growing up, but was also largely influenced by the lockdowns and moving home for the duration of my final module, where I had already decided I was going to base my project on endangered woodland species, but actually being in an area where I could see some of them again was really exciting.

I purchased a wildlife camera and watched for months until I finally found a hedgehog in the garden, and I definitely think the act of getting me out and about in my garden every morning kept me interested in the topics and excited to work on it and talk about it. I researched and asked around and found some areas to see hares, which I was also successful with, and also found out I live very close to a Red Squirrel safe zone, in fact my house is in the buffer zone where the population of greys are, I wasn't able to travel during the lockdown to go see any reds, but still definitely on my to-do list!

hedgehog secondary surface design pattern collection

So yeah, engaging with the subject matter was a very inspirational point to me, and continues to be an interest. I wish I still had a garden to put my camera in, there's so many foxes in Swansea and seeing them has been exciting - inspiring a couple of prints in itself.

But what do I do when I'm feeling a little uninspired?

Pinterest is such a good place to look for inspiration, it can be as simple as a scroll through my colour palette board or some photography to see if something jumps out. I found my inspiration for my Ice Lollies Collection when I came across a recipe for frozen ice lollies for kids to make at home, using some pieces of fruit frozen into fruit juice. 

For pattern-specific inspo, I check for design challenges on Spoonflower, they run a weekly contest with a theme, then the community vote for the top designs that receive prizes from the fabric-printing site in America. Even though I'm in the UK, I enter the contests as often as I can and I often find even though I only need one design to enter with, I end up creating a mini-collection that can often lead me on to other ideas then.

alien hide and seek surface pattern design spoonflower collection

This pattern is one of my favourites recently, inspired by a 'hide and seek' playmat design challenge, for which I first thought of the usual woodland stuff I do, but took this as a little challenge to do something different, so decided to go down this alien route instead.

I also keep an eye out for other contests and things around the internet, again just mini-briefs and things are great for inspiration, but also entering a contest could have the potential to win something too.

 You can read more about my inspirations in my portfolio!


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