“What is surface design? Never heard of it.” Often, this is the response I hear when I mention the term. I could easily insert a sarcastic, tongue-in-cheek comment about how it’s self-explanatory…but I won’t. One, because that’s rude, and I have manners. And two, because I asked the SAME questions. In this judgment-free zone, I’ll quickly tell you a little about surface design and provide examples of where you can spot the work.
So, hit me with the definition.
The Graphic Artist’s Guild Handbook of Pricing and Ethical Guidelines provides the simplest of many definitions I have found on the topic. The book states, surface design is the creation of “repetitive and non-repetitive or engineered decorative graphics or patterns used to adorn products for the apparel, home fashions, paper product, giftware, and craft industries.” It is also referred to as textile design and surface pattern design.
Here are a few examples of surface design work.
Incredible work, right?! Once you look for it, you’ll be surprised how much surface design work is around you. As I type in my bedroom (don’t judge, I live in a little home in Austin…and I do mean fit in your pocket small…it’s okay, I love it), I have a floral comforter, patterned burp cloth, patterned suitcase and striped shirt all in plain view. Don’t focus on the fact I have a suitcase in my room. I just returned from a glorious family vacation. Focus on the fact that talented surface designers made all these everyday products irresistible. The next time you buy colorful and beautifully patterned clothing, kitchenware or greeting cards (i.e. your next trip to Target) smile knowing a surface designer helped bring it to life.
There’s more info to come in this surface design series. If you learned something new from this post or have a favorite surface designer, please share in the comments. Until next time, be well!