The power of a single motif

Hello everyone!

Today I want to talk about the impact that your drawings can have & about the power that can lie within a single drawn motif.

Taking ‘Module 1: Designing Your Way’ from Make it in Design (my own e-course!) has been truly amazing, inspiring & motivating. I’ve loved connecting with the group & having the freedom to just experiment & let loose. It’s made me really appreciate the courses even more & I feel so lucky to have our wonderful Make it in Design community around me. I too have to fit the exercises in around my other commitments & like some of our students I’m playing catch up this week ahead of Module 2, which is starting on Monday. It’s been so great to experience the class as a real student.

During the module I took part in a lot of the exercises just like the rest of class & completely went back to basics as I experimented with different drawing techniques & media. During class, I created some motifs that I will actually be using in designs that will go into my upcoming Surtex, New York portfolio. This is an EXCLUSIVE sneak peek at brand new designs I have created for the show & they haven’t been seen by anyone outside of my studio. I’m giving you this exclusive access to demonstrate the value that a single motif can have.

Motif 1 – Abstract pod

As you can see, I started out with a simple black & white drawing after following exercise 1.2 in class. I was inspired by seedpods & trees to create this abstract motif. The motif has a bit of a retro vibe to it & that definitely influenced the composition & my colour choices with the rich brown background.

Every single pattern you see on my final presentation sheets has been created with just that one individual motif. How amazing is that?! This is a technique I have used with many of my designs & it is the choice of colour, scale, layering & composition that can really help you to make the most out of your drawings.

Motif 2 – Textured tree

Again, I began with a black & white drawing of a tree after being influenced by the inspiration I captured at our local park. I used a slightly thicker weight of pen this time to produce a different effect. Whilst listening to my favourite music, I began doodling away & just let loose. Module 1 has definitely awakened my visual senses more as I’m documenting so many textures & patterns that are around me on a day-to-day basis – I’m really noticing hidden beauty in the most mundane objects.

It really is unbelievable what you can do with a motif once you start to experiment with its orientation & scale. My simple tree drawing has been transformed into three very different designs all because of some simple experimentation with composition.

This is ultimately what I hope to teach in the courses: the power & the potential of surface pattern design! Look at all of the possibilities! There truly is a place for everyone in this industry & I really hope you’ll join me on this creative journey.

Rachael xoxo

(Please note: although these designs are based on one motif, we do explore more complex designs, patterns & techniques that combine various motifs. This occurs through a natural progression of the modules, along with exploration in various genres, media types & a wide range of styles.)

P.S. As a bonus I’ve recorded a number of extra videos across my social media accounts along with a few Facebook lives. I will continue to do this & share sneak peeks behind the scenes, as well as posting my own Module 2 progress. The class seemed to especially love taking a look at all of my portfolio books that have never been seen before!

If you’ve already completed Module 2 but want to keep involved with my progress, don’t worry! We have a fabulous team at Make it in Design who will share everything in the Module 3 private Facebook group as well. I want to make sure everyone feels as inspired as possible!

If you want to know a little more of what you’ll learn in Modules 2 & 3, below is a quick peek at what you can expect to find! Our acclaimed modules really do provide you with the essential building blocks for a successful career in surface pattern design, so we encourage you to follow your dreams & sign up today!

Module 2 teaches you:

  • How to start your own label
  • How to develop your signature look
  • How to build your brand image & gain recognition
  • How to understand & predict trends
  • How to put a collection together
  • How to get noticed & get press
  • How to market yourself & build your online presence
  • How to protect your work


  • How to create technical repeats & static & rotating blog ads
  • BONUS TECHNICAL WORKSHOP VIDEOS giving you a step-by-step guides to design using Photoshop & Illustrator

Module 3 teaches you:

  • How to identify multiple streams of income for your designs
  • How to sell & license your designs
  • The ins and outs of freelancing
  • How to get into manufacturing your own product
  • How to choose the right distribution channel for you
  • How to negotiate a contract that is right for you
  • How to protect your intellectual property
  • How to manage your time & money, & stock levels
  • How to get a job in design
  • How to stay motivated


  • How to create a pattern portfolio to show to potential clients
  • How to apply patterns to mock up product templates & room sets
  • How to turn a placement print into a technical repeat for wallpaper or fabric
  • Everything you need to know about getting in, getting ready & attracting customers at trade shows
  • How to design a Trade Show Brochure in Adobe Illustrator
  • Invaluable industry info such as colour print specifications for both paper goods & textiles