I thought it would be a fun change of pace for the summer to hear from some of my favorite surface pattern designers. Today, we are kicking off the series with an interview with Clea Broad.
Clea lives in Southeast London with her husband and two children. She has been in the creative industry for several years and has tried a little bit of everything from costume, prop making, floristry, millinery and styling. She made her debut into the quilting world with her first fabric line designed with PBS Fabrics - Lovestruck. I had the wonderful privilege to sew up a Leaded Light Quilt in this collection for QuiltCon 2022. The collection is available in quilt shops now with a second collection on the way soon!
And now - onto the interview! Enjoy!
Did you always know you wanted to be a surface pattern designer? Tell us all about how you got to where you are today!
I’ve always worked in creative fields, from floral and event styling to costume design and millinery. When the pandemic hit, all my work was cancelled, but this turned out to be a blessing. It gave me the time and space to explore new areas of creativity. I signed up to a year of Skillshare and started learning digital art and design skills, which previously had always felt out of my comfort zone. I quickly realized I wanted to pursue surface pattern design, and decided to take Bonnie Christine’s Immersion class in 2021. Since then I haven’t looked back, and I have been busy building my portfolio and finding licensing partners. My biggest win so far has been getting two of my collections, Love Struck and Fan Club, licensed with PBS Fabrics.
How many years were you working in the design industry before you felt like you had the career you dreamed of? Or are there still larger dreams you are working towards?
I am in the beautiful beginning stage of my surface pattern design journey and have so many goals and dreams that I’m working towards. However I think it’s important to enjoy the journey itself, as there’s rarely overnight success for artists, so you need to love the process.
Where do you find your inspiration comes from?
I’ve always been really inspired by the creativity of my family. Between them they have worked in the fields of art, dance, music, photography, ceramics and storyboarding for film. Through them, and with their encouragement, I’ve discovered it’s ok to want to be more than one thing, and that creativity is a way of life.
What is your product to design surface patterns for? Are there any you haven't worked with, but would like to?
I have such a long wish list of products I want to see my patterns on out in the world. Some of my dream projects would be puzzles (I have always loved a doing them), pajamas (you can’t beat great lounge wear), bedding (because who doesn’t love bed time), stationery (to make my business more beautiful) and chocolate packaging (a great excuse to buy more chocolate). But regardless of the product, the eco credentials and the ethics of the brand I’m working with is really important to me.
A blank page can be so intimidating. Where do you start when designing a new collection?
I usually start with the story behind the collection as it will inform the theme, motifs, mood and palette.
Do you start with one small element? Photographs? A theme? A color? Or does it just build organically?
When it comes to making the patterns themselves I’m a firm believer in play and experimentation. All my artwork starts life on the page rather than the screen, and I love to get messy. For example I might take a leaf and then print with it, paint around it or use it as a paintbrush. The more ink I’m covered in, the more fun I’ve usually had.
I always find color to be intimidating. Where do you start when selecting your color palettes?
I struggled with colour a lot at first. As it can make or break a pattern I’ve made sure I dedicate as much practice to refining my palettes as the pattern themselves. I now have a master Illustrator document containing all the palettes from every collection I’ve created. I draw from this master palette for each new collection, adding no more than a few new colours for each new collection. This keeps a general sense of cohesion across my portfolio and stops the process of colour selection becoming overwhelming.
What do you have coming up over the next year? Any exciting projects you want to share about?
There’s nothing I’m allowed to share right now, but watch this space!
Story behind Clea's next pattern collection debuting soon!
Follow along here to stay up to date:
Website : www.cleabroad.co.uk
Email List: https://app.flodesk.com/form/627a83691e8046b220254a75/build