Blog Posts | Conversations with Campers

Pattern Camper Interview: Mandy Ford

Today we’re talking with Artist, Illustrator and Surface Pattern Designer Mandy FordShe’s an illustrator and mom from Indiana who recently rediscovered her love for drawing! Take a look + a read!

owl pattern sample

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

Hi everyone! I’m Mandy Ford, and I’m an illustrator and hand-letterer from Indiana. By day I work in higher education, but my true passion is my art. I’m also mom to twin 8-year-old boys who just started 3rd grade (crazy!), and I’ve been married for almost 13 years to my husband Dan who keeps me laughing and full of really awesome home-cooked food.

I grew up drawing and was always labeled the “creative” one, but around the time I began college, I basically stopped drawing. It wasn’t until a creative writing class that included a doodling exercise three years ago that I rediscovered my love for drawing. And it has been an almost daily practice since! I’ve been blown away by the opportunities and support that have come my way, both online and in my hometown, since I began this new journey as a professional artist.

I share all of my illustrations on Instagram – it is my absolute favorite place in social media land. You can find me there at @mandyfordart. My website is and includes more about me and my portfolio of work.

home made holiday pattern square

Why did you decide to sign up for Pattern Camp? What were you hoping to learn and accomplish through the course?

I have had a serious love for patterns and surface design since I can remember, so the idea of having my artwork turned into this thing I obsess over was an exciting prospect! My hope for the class was to learn how to take my art and turn it into patterns that could be used on fabric, scrapbook paper, journals, and other licensed products.

window 11

How are you using your new Pattern skills in your life/work today? (Tell us about your amazing recent window project!!)

I didn’t expect to learn skills in Pattern Camp that would help me in my other design work but boy was I wrong! I used to edit all of my illustrations in Photoshop, and would find myself getting super frustrated trying to make changes to them with my limited knowledge. Learning the image trace and live paint functions in Illustrator has literally been a game changer for me! It has transformed the quality of my final pieces and made the process of creating art a lot more fun too!

One recent example of how I’ve used these new skills is in my #100daysofyourtruth project. I joined the 100 Day Project movement and created 100 hand-lettered quotes, and edited many of them in Illustrator. You can see all of them on my Instagram @mandyfordart under the above hashtag.

Thanks for asking about my window project Jessica! So back in the spring, a local clothing boutique owner asked me to doodle on her shop windows. She sent me some inspiration photos and then I went to work! It was the first time I had done a project that large and SO public, which was a bit scary. I used chalk markers and freehanded the design. This has been one of my most favorite projects to date and I’m currently working with another local business to do something similar. It really is amazing what projects can come your way when you put your art out into the world!

yes to adventure colored

What was your favorite part of Pattern Camp?

As far as the technical aspects go, there were two major highlights for me. The first was learning how to use image trace and live paint, and the second was the first time I created a repeat pattern. Both were such exhilarating moments! Seeing something you drew transformed in that way feels like a miracle. And on a personal level, the care and attention Jessica provided was so wonderful and unexpected. She is not only a great teacher, but cares about her students and gets excited right along with our successes!

What surprised you about Pattern Camp?

The community! I signed up for the course purely to learn new skills, and have been blown away by the friendships and support that still continue from this group. I’ve made friends that I keep in touch with almost daily through social media and that is priceless.

rainbow pattern mint

What advice do you have for someone considering registering for the course?

The best thing about Pattern Camp is that it isn’t only about learning how to make patterns. Yes, that is a fabulous skill and one that you’ll enjoy using, but the other tricks you learn in Illustrator and Photoshop are invaluable too (at least they are to me!). The community you become a part of is awesome as well. It can be scary to put your art out into the world, especially on social media, and this group has offered nothing but positive feedback and encouragement. Thank you Jessica for bringing us all together!

alpha portrait 2 watermark

Thanks, Mandy for your words of love for Pattern Camp! Your work is so elegant and full of fun!


Where to find Mandy:


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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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Pattern Camper Interview: Farida Zaman

Today we’re talking with Artist, Illustrator and Surface Pattern Designer Farida ZamanShe’s an all-around professional artist and designer. Farida has a variety of creative outlets/jobs and was so excited to add pattern design to her skill set.
Take a look + a read!


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

My name is Farida Zaman. I am a professional illustrator and surface designer. To see more of my work you can visit my website at

You are an illustrator and multimedia artist. Can you tell us about your work and what prompted you to sign up for Pattern Camp? What was your level of experience with Illustrator and Photoshop before the course?

 I illustrate children’s publishings, corporate & editorial, do art licensing, as well as act as an instructor for a few classes in painting and illustration at an art school here in Toronto- Canada. My style is decorative and whimsical and translates well into repeat patterns, something I’ve always been keen to learn. My level of Photoshop is/was more advanced then Illustrator. I have to admit I’ve always found the latter harder to tackle.

How has Pattern Camp and having these new pattern skills changed your work? Tell us about life before and after Pattern Camp!

Having this new skill set has definitely been a liberating experience! Now I can tackle creating repeats in both Illustrator and Photoshop. It opens doors to many more opportunities that I could never have dreamed of before.

What do you find most inspirational and/or surprising about being part of the Pattern Camp community?

I love the spirit of the community, so supportive!  Jessica of course is the best team leader ever! It is such a great platform to learn and share ideas and tips on, as well as making new connections. I love the Monday assignment, it keeps me on track, developing a portfolio of new repeats!!

Any tips you can share with someone who dreams of having a creative career but may have some fear around diving in and starting to make it a reality?

If this is what you love to do, just do it! Don’t waste time. Work on developing your own unique voice and the world is your oyster!

What’s next for you? Are you working on any exciting projects?

Currently I am working on a coloring book, a corporate project, and some licensing art work. I’m looking forward to other projects that are in the pipeline.

Thanks, Farida! Your work is so fun and diverse!


Where to find Farida:




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Pattern Camper Interview: Tammy Fluech

Today we’re talking with Pattern Camper and Graphic Designer Tammy FluechShe’s an advocate of always challenging yourself and constantly learning new skills. And her work is gorgeous! Take a look + a read.

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

Hello. My name is Tammy Fluech and I am a self-taught graphic designer and mother of two. My small business, Typebird Creative, has been in operation for about eight years now and I have been in the graphic design field for the last eleven years. Currently, I specialize in branding for small businesses, non-profits, and creatives. Logo creation is quite possibly my favorite thing to do besides pattern making… and gardening! My website is and I am also active on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest with the same, ‘typebirdcreative‘ name.

As someone who was already familiar with Illustrator and Photoshop coming into the course, can you tell us a bit about what you learned in Pattern Camp that was new to you?

In my opinion, one of the most important things in business is to take classes and always be open to learning. Once I feel too comfortable with my process I know it’s time to broaden my horizon and challenge myself with a class or activity that may be difficult.

In this class, I learned a lot. Of course, the repeating patterns kept me awake at night and after watching the videos those items were finally laid to rest. First of all, I think the way in which they were taught is probably my greatest takeaway. Getting to see the process over and over again actually is the best way for me to learn and I have referred back to the videos quite a few times since class has ended. Jessica has a great talent for explaining the process, so it is easy to understand. She doesn’t skip much in the directions so you can literally see each move and not be left thinking ‘what did I miss‘?

Secondly, the thought process behind the actual making of the pattern was enlightening. Considering the spacing and repetitiveness of a pattern to make it look pleasing to the eye is an important aspect.

Last but not least, I also learned a few quick tips in regards to the various functions of both Illustrator and Photoshop (for example, the paint bucket tool that I did not use on a daily basis and now I do). There is always something new to learn in my book no matter how many years you have been in your field.


You decided to strike out on your own as a freelancer after your son was born; I know this is something that many creative people dream of doing. Do you have any words of encouragement that you can share with those who may wish to do something similar and dive into being their own boss?

Believe in yourself. Be brave. Don’t give up. Be honest with your clients and yourself. Be flexible. I know these sound like a bunch of cliches but they are true.

When my son was 6 months old he had an incident at the sitters home. It involved a grueling day between doctors offices and ended with a trip to the hospital. A fractured wrist and a nurse’s elbow later, I quit my job the very next day. I had no idea what I was going to do because everyone has bills but I knew he wasn’t going back there at any cost. Luckily, my then employer, now my client of eight years, understood and I still work with them today.

It is amazing what you can accomplish when you are faced with this kind of a dilemma. In the beginning, I took every job that crossed my path and worked all hours of the day and night. I pushed myself and grew my network from home in between motherhood. I was quick in my delivery with projects and had many word of mouth referrals. I was also very honest with my clients about my set up. Letting them know I was a working mom, that my office was in the home and that they may hear a dog bark from time to time, actually seemed to build trust with them. I never gave up, I constantly molded myself when needed and still I always find time to learn something new.

If you are considering this path you must have patience and be willing to take the jobs that you may not want to do. I say this because I am now at a point when I can say no to a client if a project is not a good fit. This was a big growth moment for me. Take the jobs that make you learn something new, don’t be afraid of that. You will more than likely surprise yourself!


What parts of Pattern Camp were/are your favorite?

I think the check-in videos were great, being able to ask questions from someone who was kind and relatable is BIG!

Did anything surprise you about Pattern Camp?

The Facebook page and the support from the group. In the design world there are so many designers who do not support each other. I am a big believer in supporting one another because we are all in this together. When I saw how wonderful the comments were on the page, I was so happy. It’s nice to hear and see what your peers are doing and what they think about your work. I found this very encouraging.


What’s next for you?

Fabric. I started this venture into patterns for a reason. This girl loves a logo but she wanted something for herself! I have a group of wonderful creatives here in my new town and I am planning on working with a local company to produce some artist aprons with accents of my patterns on linen. I am excited and nervous all at the same time but very hopeful. I also plan on creating some brush rolls, work towels, and other items in the near future. My graphic design business, Typebird Creative, will continue of course. I love helping small business owners, creatives and non-profits.


Thanks, Tammy! Your work is so gorgeous and inspiring! Can’t wait to see your fabric. :)


Where to find Tammy:






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Kelly Parker Smith owns Hello World Paper Co, a stationery & stamp design studio. She is now also (of course) pursuing surface pattern design! She came into Pattern Camp feeling confident in her digital design skills. But she wanted to refine her pattern making skills and add surface pattern design to her ‘toolbox’. Kelly hopes to incorporate patterns into her stationery business, or – who knows – maybe pattern design will lead her somewhere new, too!


Here are some of Kelly’s super fun patterns:




About Kelly:

Kelly Parker Smith is a retired third grade teacher who had a big dream to make pretty things and help people in need. Kelly’s love of a simple life with moments of total awesomeness has spilled over into stamp and stationery collections for weddings, new homes, small businesses, and book lovers. She creates all of the designs herself working with pen and ink, typography, watercolor, and pattern design. Kelly lives in Belleville, IL (20 minutes outside of St. Louis, MO) with her husband, three boys, and their rescue kitten, Katniss.



Where to find Kelly:


Pattern Website





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Kim Dorste has always wanted to be an artist for a living. She graduated from the University of Missouri in 2006 with a BFA in Printmaking & Art History. Before Pattern Camp, Kim struggled with the technology involved in pattern making and digital work in general. But no more! Check out this conversation to hear about how Kim conquered her unfamiliarity with the computer in order to accomplish what she came for: learning to create her own beautiful pattern designs!


Here are some of Kim’s fun patterns:


About Kim:

I’m an artist residing in Boulder, Colorado where I live with my husband, Dave.  We have two adult children that also live in Colorado, Alec & Jordan.  I graduated with a BFA in Printmaking and Art History from the University of Missouri in 2006.

I’ve always wanted to be an artist!  I have loved drawing and painting for as long as I can remember.  I love colors and shapes and have found simple pleasure in getting lost in creating a piece of art work.  I always knew that I would have creative outlets in my life, but the idea of making a living as an artist has been the greatest challenge I’ve ever faced.  I’ve had many jobs in my life, but very few related to art.  Now at 53 years old, I am finally committed to being an artist as my full time profession.

I’m inspired by the interests in my life; traveling, hiking, snow skiing, sailing, sweets, and the beauty of the Colorado mountains.  I want my art to be fun, colorful, and inspire good thoughts and feelings.  I was turned off in college by the pressure to become a “masterpiece” artist.  My mission is much more simple and I hope to find a way to communicate with people through my art work in anyway possible, through any media possible.  If my artwork on a simple object in someone’s life brings them a moment of happiness each day I will have accomplished something valuable.

Famous artists that have inspired me and probably have influenced my work have been Wayne Thiebaud, Ralph Steadman, and Jean Michel Basquiat.  But there have been many more artist friends and acquaintances that have had as much if not more of an influence on my work.

Where to find Kim:


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Renee Gauvin joined me for the last session of Pattern Camp in April 2016. To say that she has blossomed is an understatement! From barely being able to turn on a computer (her own words!) to learning how to use Illustrator and Photoshop, she is on an unstoppable roll.

I think anyone who may dream of learning to make repeat patterns but is afraid they’re just not technically savvy enough will really want to listen to this conversation!



Here are some of Renee’s lovely, lovely patterns:










I am a 55 year old married  mom of three adult children.

Since as long as I can remember,  I have identified as an “artist”.

During my last year of high school  I was chosen to attend a special art school, the  Educational Center for the Arts in New Haven, CT.

I did study design in college for a year,  but then switched over to education and focused on early childhood development with a BS in elementary ed. I was raising kids at the same time.  My first job was as a doula for Parents As Teachers, in Kirkwood, MO and then later in Virginia with low income preschoolers.  I loved all of it.  But still, I identified as an artist, and fought against wanting to do art, because, as a single mom, it seemed frivolous and a waste of time.  I couldn’t even keep up with the regular stuff.  But I still craved doing art and snuck it into my preschool classroom as much as possible.

By 2006, I wasn’t coping well.  I didn’t get diagnosed with RA until 2011.  Those were some dark years.  By 2009 I had stopped  working full time.   I also fell in love, late in life and my new husband pushed me and enabled me to pursue my art.  This is when I started making a lot of happy art.  I was also supporting artists in our community by curating art for a local wine store and then writing articles to promote my artists and their work.  One of my colleagues mentioned something called ‘art licensing’.  WHAT?  I started doing research about it and have been learning more and more everyday about the business.   I don’t believe that my artwork is quite good enough for publishing, but I’m getting there.  I’m happy with my progress so far.


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Pattern Camper Interview: Laura Bray

Today we’re talking with Pattern Camper Laura BrayShe’s a professional craft designer and all around creative type. We love the sketchiness and hand-drawn feel of her work. Take a peek!


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

I currently work as a blogger and professional craft designer and I’m now taking the leap into illustration and pattern design. You can find me, my craft tutorials, recipes, and even a little creative business advice (because I have an MBA and used to be a business consultant) on my blog at I’m proud to say that I’m releasing an entire collection of fabrics to my Spoonflower shop in April and I’m producing a line of stamps as well. Thanks to the skills I learned in Pattern Camp!

2. You say you were afraid of repeat patterns before Pattern Camp. How do you feel now?

I found repeat patterns really intimidating before. After taking Pattern Camp, I can approach them with no trepidation. I had a lot of people give me advice and explain long drawn out formulas for repeat patterns, but who wants to do math when you are an artist? Pattern Camp just made it all make sense. And there was no math involved!

3. What parts of Pattern Camp did you love the most?

I really loved the support you gave all the campers, Jessica. Sometimes, when you take an online course, you feel like the teacher isn’t really there – it’s almost as if they just post the info and run. Because of the structure of Pattern Camp, I know YOU are there during the live class weekend and you are very quick to answer questions. I also enjoyed (and still enjoy) the community of past and present campers.

4. What surprised you about Pattern Camp?

That it was possible for someone to make Illustrator easy to navigate! Seriously though, I think people who are new to pattern making, design, and illustration feel so afraid of the technical tools. It can feel really daunting. I felt like you were just sitting there next to me, explaining how you use the tools to get amazing results. Thanks for that!

Garden Shadows Birds

5. What can you share with the folks out there who may want to sign up for the course but who are afraid their digital skills are lacking, that they aren’t good enough, etc?

See my answer above! Pattern Camp never comes across as a technical platform. You are taught in everyday language (no crazy technical terms) and even if you come across something that you don’t understand, Jessica and your fellow campers are always kind and willing to answer questions. I never felt embarrassed to ask about something I didn’t understand. It’s a very nurturing environment to learn in. As for artistic abilities, I found the class to be filled with every level of talent and ability so there’s definitely a place for every level. Everyone was excited to be there, I felt no judgment and didn’t feel afraid to show my work, ask questions, and most importantly learn.

Thanks so much, Laura, for all your kind words! I’m so glad Pattern Camp made pattern making less technical and more straightforward and fun. (And I agree that our Pattern Camp community is the tops!)


Where to find Laura:





The next session of Pattern Camp is right around the corner, and registration is open! Come join us and learn to make your own patterns. There’s a community of pattern-obsessed creatives waiting for you! Register here.


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Pattern Camper Interview: Taylor Shannon (video!)

Taylor Shannon joined me for the first-ever live + in-person session of Pattern Camp last April 2015. She was working in advertising (not the creative side of advertising), had just moved to Portland, and was itching to expand her pattern design skills.

Has she embarked on a new creative career now? Maybe! You’ll have to watch the interview to find out. ;)

Where you can find Taylor:

Society 6


Here are some of Taylor’s truly stunning patterns for you to enjoy:

Thanks, Taylor! You’re so talented!

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Pattern Camper Interview: Marian Nixon (video!)

Marian Nixon joined me for the first-ever session of Pattern Camp back in 2014. She’d been a surface pattern designer before, but never digitally. She started from scratch with Illustrator and Photoshop and now she’s unstoppable. We chatted about SO much in this interview! Jumping in when you feel like you’re “too old” or “not experienced enough”, exhibiting at Surtex, how important that Pattern Camp community is, and so so much more. Give it a listen! (ps – there are 2 cute pugs at the end. Just sayin’.)


Where you can find Marian:


Marian has also written a couple of books. Take a look! :

Color the World


Here are some of Marian’s beautiful patterns for you to enjoy:

082315 Color My World 2

042016 drawn wood

041916 layer draw 1

041016 h20 rep 8

Spring Garden on Craft 022015

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