For the Love of Pattern

textile design

Exciting News!

Studio UpdatesAbby Leigh EckerComment

For the Love of Pattern is featured in the latest issue of Savannah Magazine Homes Edition, Fall/Winter 2014. The article is included in the Front Porch Local Artisans section. It introduces my design studio, talks about what inspires my work, as well as the vision for the studio and future projects. For those of you in Savannah please check out the article as well as the other local artisans featured in this issue. One thing I love about Savannah is the overwhelming support from locals and being able to easily connect with other professionals. I'm grateful for the southern hospitality that I've seen in this city and excited to share my first magazine feature! Happy Monday!


Interview with Sarah Watson

Meet the ArtistAbby Leigh Ecker1 Comment

Sarah Watson is an American illustrator living in Brazil, trained in textile design and repeat pattern. She studied Fibers at SCAD and is currently designing for Cloud 9 Fabrics, an all organic company. In the past she's worked with Art Gallery Fabrics and she's even illustrated two books. Pretty cool stuff! She just exhibited at Surtex for the first time this year, which I think is a pretty amazing accomplishment. 

Sarah Watson Illustration

Today I'd like to share a little more about Sarah, her design inspirations and a short interview that she kindly made time for in her busy schedule.

What is your earliest influence that you can recall, which inspired you to go into a creative field?

SW: The story that I'm usually told is that my grandmother (my Mom's mother that is), who passed away before I got to know her very well, noticed some sort of creative talent in me and pushed my parents to enroll me in art lessons. It all sort of started from there and I've been having fun in the field ever since.

Where do you find inspiration for your designs? Do you find you have a common theme you return to or is it different for every collection?

SW: My inspiration really comes from pen and paper. Everything I do starts with a drawing and that style even varies quite a bit depending on whether I'm using pen and ink, watercolor or pencil. Mostly the themes stick to nature, but there's a lot of imagination involved.

What type of pattern do you enjoy the most?

SW: Because I was trained in textile design, I really love intricate, complex patterns. The actual repeat layout of the pattern is just as important to me as the illustration style, color or subject matter. There are a lot of things that go into making a pattern, lots of decisions, and they all have to work well together.

Do you have anything that helps motivate you while working?

SW: Well, because my work isn't always just being creative and there's a lot of business work too, I tend to have a broad variety of external distractions. Because I live overseas, I try to listen to international or stateside news once a week or so, to keep in touch. If I'm doing something tedious, I love to get a good pile of work, sit down with a cup of coffee and watch TV while I work. We live in an apartment with a pool, though, too, so if I can gather enough work to sit quietly for a large span of time, I love to sit at the pool and work. And of course, no music or anything then, because there are waves crashing in the background. It's all the music I need.

Who do you look up to, someone you most admire or are influenced by?

SW: Historically speaking, there are a few people I'm drawn to, William Morris is great. He was such a jack of all trades. As far as modern designers go, right now I'm really loving everything that Carolyn Friedlander is doing. She's slowing things down quite a bit, and with the pace that design happens these days, with products hitting shelves, and then moving to the sale rack within a month, I think that's really important. I think we could all use a little more handmade.

What do you think makes a strong textile design?

SW: Well, this kind of goes back to my answer of what pattern I enjoy most. To me, a strong textile design has a few important elements: color, subject, repeat layout and style.  Those design elements get moved around, depending on what the desired outcome is. For retail, I think color drives nearly everything. 

Besides textile design, are you working on anything else?

SW: I am! But I can't tell you about it yet! How's that for suspense? 

What's your favorite thing to make when not designing?

SW: I do like to cook. Living overseas, I get homesick for certain things every now and then, so I'm getting better and better at cooking. As far as hobbies, I love gardening, anything outdoors and exercise. 

Explain your vision behind Sarah Watson Illustration, what things are most important you you as a designer?

SW: When I quit my day job, I was leaving it because I felt like all my time was spent at work. I love to work, but there are other important things out there, life, family, giving back. I needed to figure out how I could make my schedule work so that all of those things could be incorporated into my day-to-day. A big part of my business plan is giving back. Because I've been very lucky to have supportive parents, and was born into a loving family, I feel like everyone should have the same opportunities. I allot 12 days a year to volunteering, and 5% of my profits go to social or environmental organizations. Design is very important to me, but when I sit back and look at the grand spectrum, what I'd really love to be known for is being a good person.

Do you have any advice for new designers out there?

SW: Hmm, I still consider myself a pretty new designer! But I think the best advice I have would to be work hard. It takes quite a while to make a profitable business, in any realm, and there is a lot of work involved. Don't take shortcuts or the easy way out, you're going to have to work very, very hard in the beginning. But if you really love what you're doing, it'll start to click, and it'll get easier and easier. 

Is there anything new and exciting that you would like to share?

SW: Well, with the way this industry works, I don't have too much fun to share right now, it's all top secret. I have a new fabric line coming out this month, which is very exciting. And I'm also pregnant, so I guess that's pretty important too!  

Finish this sentence - When you're not in your studio we can find you...

SW: Trying to convince my husband to take the day off work, and go to the beach! 

Make sure you check out Sarah's latest collection, Arcadia! My personal favorites from this collection are Herb Garden & Sun Spot and Bee. I love the line quality in these designs and the tiny little details. I can't wait to see what's next from Sarah and to find out all of the top secret projects that she is working on. I think it's safe to say that we will be seeing a lot of exciting things from Sarah in the near future. 

All photos were provided by Sarah Watson.

Enjoy your week and happy Monday! As always I welcome comments and feedback.

A New Beginning

Helpful TipsAbby Leigh EckerComment

Ok so lets face it, I'm new at this.

I'm a new blogger, starting a new career path and have a lot of new responsibilities. I don't always know what I am doing. I have a million things floating around in my head at any given time throughout the day. Sometimes I don't know how or where to start. Some days I think I've accomplished so much and other days, I feel as though I've accomplished nothing at all. I want to be open and honest about this process and document it along the way so I've decided blogging every so often about this topic is the perfect medium. 

I've realized I need a more detailed plan to start tackling all these new things. I've also been reaching out to find some answers. I think it's important to know at the beginning there are many decisions to make, things to figure out and different kinds of approaches to take. It is extremely easy to be overwhelmed at this time, which can cause a sort of creative block. What I've found is that I'm not alone. No one else knows what they are doing either, or at least not when they are starting out. Other people get overwhelmed too and have difficultly starting intimidating projects. It's been a kind of comforting relief to discover other entrepreneurs feeling this way and I'm glad to be reminded that I'm not alone in this type of journey. So today, I want to share some of the tools I've been using to stay motivated to keep going down this new path. 


I recently joined The Modern Quilt Guild and as it turns out they have spectacular webinars available. As a member you can watch webinars from archives or sign up for live viewings. So far I've signed up for three. Two I've already watched, Starting your own Business and Awaking your Color Genius. The third one, Developing a Financial Plan, is coming up later this week. The two that I've seen so far have been very beneficial. They are engaging and delivered in different ways so it's easy to keep my interest and I look forward to signing up for more. I highly recommend finding a few webinars to view that relate to your field or demonstrate skills that you want to learn. They are a convenient way to continue learning about anything that interests you. BurdaStyle and Skillshare are also other great sites to explore for webinars.


I've been reading this new book written by Lee Anderson of Starkweather. It's called On Starting Somewhere: Entrepreneurship before success. Lee outlines her own moments of vulnerability throughout her journey. She reminds me that it is ok to be vulnerable, to not know exactly what I'm doing all the time and the importance of conversation during the beginning stages of starting something new. I'm reminded that one step at a time is really the best way to accomplish things instead of making an impossible list of things that I feel need to be done in a twenty-four hour period. I believe the different elements outlined in this book are extremely important to analyze about yourself to be able to work in the best way for you and your business. I was able to have a conversation with Lee about these elements: mornings, stance, routine, problem solving, people, regret/sacrifice and why. This has really helped me to analyze my routine and figure out what works and what doesn't for my business. I admire Lee's honesty at this point before success. It is not something easy to admit but once you do talk through these things, it's so much easier to move on towards your goals.

The book Blog Inc. by Joy Cho has also been a very helpful guide to starting a new blog. It has introduced me to bloggers different from my field of interest and explained the different types of blogging to a newbie like myself. I like the way she breaks down blogging into basics, finding your voice, powering your blog, etiquette, and then even further into business, monetizing and growth. Her book goes into more detail than I need at this point but I can tell it will always be a good resource to go back to when I'm ready to move on to the next step.


I've also been looking to other bloggers for advice and came across this post by A Beautiful Mess. The article reinforces the importance of defining a few key things when starting a new blog. Choose a theme, make friends, experiment, don't do it all, and develop your style.

It often runs though my head that I'm not a writer and people will be wondering why I am even blogging. I admit that writing is not second nature for me, but I do feel it is an important part of my process. I came across a great article, written by Joshua Becker, that reminded me of why I should continue to blog. I'll become a better writer and thinker, meet new people and inspire others, develop an eye for more meaningful things and become more well rounded in my mindset. 


I can't express enough how extremely beneficial podcasts are. I like to fit them into my morning routine or afternoons in the studio and have found it's an easy thing to squeeze into my day. In fact, I look forward to them. Lately, I've been listening to After the Jump and Entrepreneurial thought Leaders. ATJ, is Design*Sponge founder Grace Bonney's podcast about art, design and the creative community. ETL, is Standford's podcast where innovative leaders from all different backgrounds share insights about entrepreneurship.

I'm really excited about how these podcasts are sharing information. It seems like there are two ways of thinking when it comes to being an entrepreneur. You can be extremely secretive or you can share information. Neither way is right or wrong but I personally believe sharing gets you farther when it comes to personal and professional growth. I'm glad to see more people connecting with others without the incentive for personal gain. It is important to remember and cherish the relationships you build; it's these relationships that can keep the foundation of your business alive.

I'll leave you with a few of the episodes that I found to be extremely inspiring: ATJ Productivity Tips, ATJ Hand-made Design, ETL Do what you love & ETL Creativity Inc.

A few words of advice: always be learning, stay curious and connect with others.

I welcome your thoughts and feedback