After announcing my retirement from digital scrapbook design so I could focus my energies on surface design, the number one thing I’ve gotten asked is . . . what is surface design?
It’s a good question because the term “surface design” is fairly new and it’s not nearly as common as other artistic fields like graphic design or photography. And while I don’t personally claim to be an expert in surface design (I am just a newbie in the field afterall), I thought it could be helpful to share my perspective on what surface design is.
Surface Design Defined
Surface design is any type of artwork (pattern, illustration, hand lettering, etc.) made by a designer that is intended to be applied to a surface to enhance its visual appearance and/or functionality.
Here’s another way to think about it: a furniture designer’s job is to design interesting and functional furniture, just like it’s a children’s apparel designer’s job to develop new collections of fashionable clothing for kids. Well, that new sofa the furniture designer created needs an interesting patterned fabric and the pirate t-shirt concept the apparel designer just came up with needs an illustration to match her vision. And that’s where a surface designer comes in; they can design a pattern for the new sofa or a cute peg-legged pirate for a kid’s t-shirt.
Where can you find surface design?
EVERYWHERE! Just walk around your house and look at all the printed (or woven) surfaces around you. I bet you can find 10 items in less than 2 minutes. Pillows, throw rugs, bed linens, birthday cards, coffee mugs, wall art, kitchen utensils, your favorite printed dress, notebooks, books, magazine articles . . . well you get the idea.
The funny thing about this is that scrapbooking (including digital scrapbooking) is actually a type of surface design, it’s just a very small piece of a much larger pie. So when I decided to retire from PU digital designing to shift into surface design, I was actually opening myself and my designs up to a much larger market.