I like to design in collections – it brings cohesion to my portfolio and allows me to fully explore a concept or technique before I move on to a new project. Collections give me multiple options for my customers and allows me the freedom to experiment with colors and layouts without reinventing the wheel.
But not all of my prints fit well with a collection and since I’m prone to wandering through variations of particular elements or styles, I often have a large file of orphan prints that aren’t part of a collection but could be…if I could just focus on coming up with a coordinate (or four).
At the beginning of every summer I open my orphan prints file and go through each design, deciding which ones really could be developed further. Once I have chosen one print that I’m really inspired by, I set about doing some research to develop a concept that fits with the print but can be used to drive other prints in the collection. This is not simple to do because of the psychological issues that arise from orphan prints.
Orphans are generally those prints that weren’t working for one reason or another. Either the print was too plain, the colors weren’t quite right, or the technique was too complicated to ever replicate with any degree of success. Sometimes looking at the orphans can remind me of past failures and frustrations; sometimes they just make me plain overwhelmed. So I have a strategy that’s worked for me 100% of the time to get those orphan prints into a new collection.
So here is a print I love – but have never found a use for (other than to look at it and think – oh, that’s pretty). I like the blue and orange. I like the floral layout – it’s very “tossed” – and the change in scale really makes me happy.
My next step is to go hunting on Pinterest or one of the free photo sites I use to gather some inspiration. I do this to develop a moodboard – a sort of guide to help me see where the collection is going.
I use Canva a lot for this purpose. It enables me to put all of my ideas on one simple template so I have a roadmap for the pattern collection.
I also pick my colors at this stage so I know what areas of the orphan will need to be recolored and what my overall collection colors will be. I tend to pick the accent colors – and then add my neutrals later. Usually, I put my chosen orphan right in the board.
Now, I’ll admit that I struggle with moodboards quite a bit. I find them difficult in the sense that my finished collection is usually way more cohesive than my moodboard. But at least I have a starting point. This method has really enabled me to develop my collections in a way that makes fitting in those orphan prints easier. I know what I’m going to add to the collection and how I’m going to bring some unity. I know what elements I need to develop.
Try this method and let me know if it works for you – I’ll post this collection when I finish it so you can see the evolution.