The first action a pattern designer needs to take is finding inspiration, because the process of conceptualising and developing an idea can’t move forward without it.

To find it, you need to stop, look around and observe your world. You’ll realize that inspiration is right in front of you – or at least it’s nearby…

Look around now, describe what you see. Is there anything that stands out or grabs your attention? Why is that?

Inspiration is anything we make a connection with, which evokes a sense of oneness with us. It’s a particular something you are instinctively drawn to or like because of its colour, shape, smell, memory or a mix-n-match of many other little details. It basically gets our creative juices flowing!

Like this photograph here;

I remember buying the teapot because something about the floral design and outline of the teapot felt just right and I had to take it home. Taking the photo was a spontaneous action; the composition, light, shapes and colours inspired a creative action within me. About a week later most of my sketches were of teapots and flowers.

teapot photograph

The more we feel inspired, our views about who we are and the world around us expand. It indirectly or directly influences our pattern work when we’re sketching, making colour choices and ultimately our end result.

When inspiration comes knocking at your doorstep it asks to be let in.

We have the choice to welcome it and see what it has to offer – or just shut the door and wait for another time. A busy human being like many others, I have often chosen the latter. And so, passing up this opportunity, this encounter with inspiration has left me empty more often than not.

But allowing it in and connecting with it has taken me on interesting, sometimes challenging journeys – it’s well worth it!

So what does inspiration look like for me? Sometimes it looks like this:

cacti image by Jimena GarciaAnd at other times, like so

White house photo by Jimena GarciaCapturing inspiration and making it a part of my pattern making process is a work in progress. But I’ve tried the following and found a rhythm:


Having some quiet time to absorb the bountiful inspiration out there and let my imagination run free is an important habit that I’m fostering. Five to ten minutes of quiet time allows me to naturally absorb my day-to-day thinking; from beautiful organic shapes in the natural world, to man-made equipment showing some decay, and finding beauty in the imperfections of things around me.

Photo of an indian stall by Jimena Garcia.


Sitting down for my daily sketch, (which is another habit I’m working on) I trust that through my meditative time I can freely begin to sketch without looking for anything specific. I set about recording the things that I found a connection with.


Pinterest is a wealth of visual inspiration, which I like to treat like a catalogue. I collect images that I find inspiring, have a good look at them and then file away in their respective Pinterest boards. Then I’m ready to make my own art.

Creating a mood board (more of this in a later post) can be a really good exercise in ways to combine all forms of inspiring materials.

A box or folder of bits and pieces that inspire

For this, I collect images from magazines, articles, physical items (leaves, ribbons, patterned paper etc.) A hands-on person like myself, I find the process of manipulating these physical items into patterns fun and calming.


Photography is often a big part of the inspiration stage for a pattern collection. By taking your own photos you get to explore and visit sites or create scenes that support your theme, you are essentially creating original inspiration that you can use in your design work.

Like this Photo I took of things around my home

Lion set up photo by Jimena Garcia.Resulted in this pattern

Floral pattern by Jimena Garcia.My advice is to take a camera everywhere you go. It doesn’t have to be an expensive one. Your smart phone will do just fine. The more photos you take, the more inspiration you’ll find for your pattern making. And it’s a mighty good habit to develop.


Think of inspiration like sunbeams radiating and energising your creative spirit; take it all in, enjoy the process and remember to have fun!