When I decided that I wanted to be a Licensed Surface Pattern Designer several years ago, I started doing research on what it took to be one. During my research journey I found there are many artists and pattern designers out there. These artist and designers not only inspired me, but also educated me and to this day still motivate me when I’m feeling “stuck” or “lost”. 


Tara Reed 

It was while doing research on art licensing that I stumbled upon Tara Reed and some of her informational posts (and videos on youtube) regarding licensing your artwork.  Even though our artwork styles differ, her information regarding licensing I found valuable and useful during my surface pattern design journey.
My in person encounter with Tara, so to speak, was at Surtex in 2011 in New York City. She was speaking at one of the breakout sessions that I had signed up for. I learned even more during that session, which encouraged me even more to reach for my dreams. 
If you are interested in licensing your artwork, Tara is a great resource; check out her website, blog and videos!

Khristian A. Howell


Khristian A. Howell is not only a surface pattern designer but also a lifestyle designer. Khristian was speaking at the breakout session with Tara Reed at Surtex.  She talked about her experience first breaking into the art licensing business and gave tips on communication and follow-up. It was at this session and through Khristian that I was introduced to WordPress for my website platform. 

Khristian also had a booth at Surtex showcasing her many beautiful and original pattern designs. She has a very unique style all her own, with wonderful use of color and dimension. 

Khristian has been featured on the Today Show, HLN & Good Day Chicago and in Better Homes and Gardens. I definitely recommend you follow her on her Instagram and her Youtube channel for inspiration and motivation.

Follow Khristian on Instagram @khristianahowell


 Monica Lee

Monica Lee is a fashion type illustrator and painter and brand strategist. I stumbled upon Monica, literally by accident, while researching art licensing after my visit to Surtex in 2011.  At the time Monica had a weekly platform called Smart Creative Women.  Each week she would interview (on Monday’s I think it was) a new artist. I would literally start my week off with a cup of tea and her video interviews or podcasts – I looked forward to them! 

If she didn’t have anyone to interview, she would speak about something art related. It was during one of these times that she was talking about something she learned in a Skillshare class; hence I was introduced to Skillshare and the next two artists that really helped me keep my passion for creating going at a difficult time.

Follow Monica on Instagram @monicaleestudios


Bonnie Christine

Bonnie Christine is a licensed surface pattern designer. I discovered her on Skillshare when I was in a creative slump several years ago. She offers several classes but the two I took are called “Intro to Surface Pattern Design: Learn Adobe Illustrator” and  “Surface Pattern Design 2.0: Design a Collection/Start a Career”. 

Even though I was already well versed in Adobe Illustrator and knew how to create a repeating pattern, I found her class very informative and just what I needed at the time. I even learned new ways to use tools that I already use. 

Aside from Bonnie’s Skillshare classes, she also has an online community called Flourish; for artists and designers. She has a roadmap for building your career as a licensed pattern designer or artist with videos and pertinent information as well as an online support group.  She even has tools to help you figure out where you are in your career.

It’s my philosophy that even if you are well versed in something, it doesn’t hurt to brush up and keep up on your skills, learn new trends in design and business and most of all make new contacts. Following Bonnie has done this for me and I highly recommend following her or taking her Skillshare classes or even her Immersion Course when it is offered. 

Bonnie’s patterns have a soft, yet colorful hand drawn feel to them. Her market has been mostly fabric, but her work can also be found on wallpaper at Wallternativesand ribbons at Renaissance Ribbons just to name a few. 

Follow Bonnie on Instagram @bonniechristine


Elizabeth Olwen

Elizabeth Olwen

Elizabeth Olwen is another surface pattern designer that I discovered on Skillshare. She, like Bonnie, also has classes on pattern design. I took her “Introduction to Designing Repeat Patterns in Illustrator” class. She offers two other Skillshare classes as well; Pattern Design II: A Creative Look at a Full Pattern Collection” and Pattern Design: Bring Your Artwork to Life on Products”. 

Elizabeth’s patterns a full of color and dimension. She has a wonderful use of florals as well as shapes and lines. I really love following her work, whenever I see one of her patterns, I seem to notice a smile on my face.

Her list of collaborations are impressive and some of you may be seen her work without even realizing it – Fab Fit Fun Box and Madison Park Greetings for example. 

Follow Elizabeth on Instagram @elizabetholwen