Pattern Camper Interview: Joan Herlinger

Today we’re talking with Artist, Illustrator and Surface Pattern Designer Joan HerlingerShe’s a UX designer, and illustrator in San Francisco. Take a look + a read! Joan has lots of patterns to share with us!


Tell us about yourself. Who are you, what do you do, where can we find you online?

My name is Joan Herlinger, I grew up in Sydney, Australia but have lived for over 20 years in San Francisco, CA. I’m a dual national citizen of Australia and Ireland, and dream about living in France one day soon. I work as a visual and UX designer and sometimes do some illustration. My current client is Baby Center , so I have been learning a lot about pregnancy and babies. 


It sounds like you have a background in a variety of different types of art and design. Did you know how to make patterns before Pattern Camp? How familiar with Illustrator and Photoshop were you before the course?

I come from a very artistic family. My mom was a painter and designer and my Dad acted in and directed plays and could also draw extremely well. Art was positively encouraged in my family.

I went to art school in Australia and hold a BA in Painting, drawing and design. I came to the US to study illustration but got involved in designing for the web. I have done that professionally for about 20 years, while drawing and painting on the side.

My first job out of art school in Australia was creating and preparing art work at a screen printing business that printed fabric. That was before photoshop and there was a lot of cutting rubylith film and real precision work involved. In photoshop the red quick mask layer is based on rubylith film. I hated that stuff and don’t miss working with it at all. It was so easy to mess up.

After that, I didn’t make patterns again until taking your class last year and again this year. I was very familiar with Illustrator and Photoshop, but I still learned a lot of new ways to use them from your class. Learning new ways to use these tools keeps them interesting and I even use some of the things I learned in my UX and visual design work.

I also work in embroidery and appliqué… I think of it as drawing with stitches. I make soft toys of my own design out of felt. After I come home from work and on the weekends I make stuff if I am not in my French language class or with my friends. I also volunteer at the Museum of Craft and Design in SF and sometimes teach workshops there too.


What new opportunities have opened up for you since taking the course?

I’m aiming towards doing PrintSource or Surtex next year. I’m looking to share with other surface designers, so If  anyone is interested, let me know! I’ve been concentrating on building my collections and portfolio and have formed a work group with a neighbor who is also a surface designer. I’m actively looking for opportunities, as I would like to move away from UX and visual web design.


Tell us what you love most about making patterns and why!

I love working with color, and scale and shape. I keep a sketchbook with me at all times and am always drawing. I like to digitize my drawings and turn them into motifs, then patterns. I really feel I express my sense of fun and playfulness when I am making patterns.

What did you love most about Pattern Camp?

Learning new things, seeing everybody’s work develop and evolve. The encouragement from you and the class!

What words of wisdom can you share with anyone who’s considering taking the course but may be afraid they’re not savvy enough with the digital programs, that they’re not a “real artist”, or whatever other mean things they might be telling themselves?

You have to try things in life that you want to do! Nobody ever got anywhere by being scared. You’ll only be older and sadder than you were before if you don’t try and achieve what you want. Be patient with yourself and don’t compare yourself too much with others. And don’t beat yourself up!

I think it is good to try and do things that scare you. Just be brave and kind to yourself. Even after years of using software, occasionally it still makes me swear. So just take lots of little breaks when you start to get frustrated. One thing I always do when I am designing the look and feel of a website is to stop a little before I am ready to stop so I don’t get burned out and am fresh when I sit down at the computer the next day.


Thanks, Joan! Your work is so vibrant and playful!



Where to find Joan:


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