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IdN v23n6: Illustration in Pattern Making — The Perpetual Promise of a Repeat Performance

Pattern is one of the most under-rated — and therefore often unfairly disregarded — genres of design. All you have to do, surely, is come up with a few elements that in terms of colour, shape, form and size combine well together, and then repeat them ad infinitum, no? This is a common misapprehension of the uninitiated. The truth is that pattern-creation can be as simple or as complex as you choose to make it. And it is something that almost every designer has had recourse to during their career.

So all the rules that apply to design in general are relevant to the act of creating a memorable pattern; none more so than that it should tell some sort of a story… and answer the client’s brief — to sell a product, market a brand, advertise an event, whatever — as succinctly and impactfully as possible. As always, simplicity is the hardest goal to achieve. What could be a more basic pattern-design concept that the monogram? Yet a truly successful one can take hours, days, weeks and months even, to come up with.


A-2-O Studio | Álvaro Peñalta | Anagrama | Asketic | Aoshuang Wang | Boglárka Nádi | BrightHead Studio | Brownfox Studio | Burak Beceren | byHAUS | Camille Charbonneau | Charlotte Fosdike | Chen YuChen | Claire Hartley | Collettivo Mare | Darren Booth | Díaz-Faes | Don’t Try Studio | Dora Balla | Enisaurus | Eve Warren/Thomas Squire | Ewelina Gąska | Gabriel M. Ramos | Goran Babic (Bresign Creative Agency) | Harley Johnston Design | Irradié | Jamie Alloy | Jonathan Calugi (Happy Lovers Town) | Jonathan Petersen | Karan Singh | Kate Prior | Ken Lo (BLOW) | KittoKatsu | Koivo | Lee Zie Wen | MAAN Design Studio | Marta Veludo | Masaomi Fujita (Tegusu Inc.) | Maser | Masha Knop | Miguel Bustos | Murmure | MUTI | Natalia Berezina (Natimade) | OFFICEMILANO | One Darnley Road | Redouane Lahloul (IllustRed) | Rubio & del Amo | Sebastian Onufszak | Silvia Portella | Sonja Köhler | Svetlana Postikova (Type and Graphics Lab) | Tamer Koseli | Triangle-Studio | UnderConsideration | Vasare Nar | Work in Progress Collective | Yukai Du


160p + 8p cover
160mm (w) x 230mm (h)
4 varying paper stocks
4C process + matt lamination + fluorescent
ISSN (English Edition): 1029 4805
ISSN (Chinese Edition): 1029 4813

The Perpetual Promise of a Repeat Performance

Beyond the story-telling and contextual aspects, the overall impression of a good pattern can have profound psychological effects. The very act of repetition in itself can be soothing, relaxing, lulling the viewer into a near-soporific state. But by contrast, it can also be intriguing, even troubling, leading the eyes in myriad directions at once like an aerial view of a maze — easy to solve from afar, but bewildering when up close and personal with it.

But back to the basics: whether made to be part of an identity, or as environmental, signage, website or packaging design, a pattern is rarely randomly generated — it is usually made with a purpose. And this must always be borne in mind when judging whether or not the outcome has been a success.

The technical challenges of pattern-making are legion: how best to incorporate those corners, for instance, so that they link seamlessly with the repeated graphic? This and many other problems are considered in the following feature by a variety of creative artists, from established experts to relative newcomers, who have grappled with them in the course of their working lives. Even the most experienced pattern-makers can probably learn something from their comments, while the portfolio of patterns presented over the pages of this issue is one of the most comprehensive ever gathered together in one volume — and will be an unquestionable source of inspiration for a long time to come.

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