Don't Repeat Motifs in Your Pattern Collections.
Updated: Feb 15, 2021
One of the top newbie "mistakes" I see in aspiring pattern designers' collections is the repeat use of the same motifs in several patterns within a collection. In this article I am going share the 2 reasons why it's a good idea not to do this. P.s. can you spot the mistake in my pattern above?
To illustrate my point I created this simple mini collection using the same motifs, moons, flowers and stars.
2 Reasons Why You Shouldn't Repeat Motifs:
Copyright issues. If you are going to be selling your artwork outright you especially have to be careful of this. If you sell 2 patterns with the same motifs to 2 different companies you could potentially be a part of a lawsuit. (Not likely, but we don't want this to happen.) Imagine if you sold the flowers and moons pattern to Target and the other just flowers and stars pattern using the exact same drawn motifs to Walmart. Customers might think that one of the companies stole the pattern design idea. Worse yet the companies might go head to head. (Again not very likely, but I don't want you to ruin your reputation.) No bueno! It is a little more acceptable with in the licensing world but it 100% depends on your contract. If you sell non-exclusive license rights to your patterns to different categories then you are safe and you are free to repeat motifs. But this is a headache to keep track of and many companies are interested in exclusivity. Another point, I would also like to note that I repeat motifs and draw similar illustrations and designs in my EmmaKisstina signature collection of illustrations and patterns. These are works that I don't have plans of selling and will only be used to create my own online shop products and 100% owned by me so I am free to do as I wish with these. Nice right!?
Added value to your customer. Working as a professional illustrator or designer you are making art/design for a living. That means you are trying to make money. By showcasing a collection with the same motifs repeated over and over in your patterns within a collection you are not bringing much value to your collection. Your client will see that you drew one thing and recycled it several times. Not that interesting. They will most likely not want to buy the entire collection and will just pick their favorite design. Or they might negotiate the price down a lot as they would essentially be purchasing the same design twice. Understandable right? What if you instead showcased a collection that was built up of unique patterns that all complement each other gorgeously. Now we're talking! Way more interesting and a much larger value for your customer. From choosing their favorite design out of the patterns you created with one motif you could easily sell an entire cohesive unique beautiful collection. That is way more money in your pocket! Yay!
So, what do you think? Do you think that you'll start making unique patterns in your collections (and through out your entire portfolio I must add)? I really don't want to see you getting into any sticky situations. The internet can be very cruel and many are at the ready to call out mistakes. Also I want you to make the big bucks. Yes!
And just to be extra confusing I will end by stating that it is ok to repeat some very small and non focal point motifs such as abstract geometric elements, small flowers, twigs or other very small details. No one is going to sue you for repeating a little twig in 2 of your prints. Using my mini collection above as an example it would most likely be ok to have my simple star print sold along side the main moon, flower, start hero print as it's a nice compliment and add cohesiveness to the collection. But I wouldn't include the middle print with the flowers and the stars. It's just too similar and the same thing. Get what I mean?