Developing patterns for the apparel, home decor and stationery markets is an exciting direction for one’s design business, but when it comes to selling patterns, the process can be overwhelming. In today’s post I share three ways to sell your work in today’s pattern design marketplace. When considering which direction to take, it is important to consider the amount of time you have to invest in your business, your budget and the level of customer interaction that you would like to have on a daily basis. If you are new to the pattern industry, selling your work through a print studio is a wonderful option. A print studio consists of one or more designers who develop and sell their patterns at print shows, such as Printsource, Indigo or Surtex. They also sell patterns by visiting manufacturers’ headquarters or through their studio website. In addition to in-house designers, print studios usually work with freelance designers, charging a 40%-60% commission on the sale of each pattern. Print studios often provide direction and feedback for their designers, offering them a guiding hand through the industry.
Caju Collective, a print studio exhibiting at Indigo, July 2013
For those designers who are motivated to create their own body of work, but are looking for assistance with marketing and sales, an agent or representative is a wonderful option. Agents typically represent the work of several artists and designers at a time, selling patterns for a 35%-60% commission. They also sell patterns at the major print shows, through their agency website, or by visiting manufacturers’ headquarters. Agents and sales representatives often license patterns in addition to selling copyrights, so this is a great option for designers who would like to retain the rights to their work.
Indigo 2013, one of the premier print shows in the United States.
For those designers who wish to control the entire sales process, they can sell their own work directly to manufacturers through a password protected area of their website, by visiting manufacturers’ headquarters or through a booth at one of the major print shows. Patterns typically sell for between $500-$1000 per design and booth prices range from $1,500-$10,000, depending on the show, booth size and location. As with any design business, creating and selling one’s work can be difficult, but many designers prefer to retain control over the entire process.
Little Spoons Design, an independent designer exhibiting at Printsource, July 2013
When choosing a business direction, passion is one of the most important components to consider. Passion is what drives designers to work late nights, inspires us to keep moving forward after a setback and find ways around budget, time and mindset obstacles.
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About Michelle Fifis
Through her e-courses and private coaching, Michelle Fifis mentors pattern designers who want to improve the professionalism of their work and make more money in their businesses. Learn more about her work at Pattern Observer.