Surface Pattern Designer

I am Heidi, a UK-based, Finnish born Surface Pattern Designer.  My pattern designs are colourful, magical landscapes of my mind, which come alive printed on fabric, stationery and home decor! I have a portfolio brimming with lots of beautiful designs, ready for licensing. I am available for bespoke design projects for a wide range of uses and industries.

Winter Wonderland repeat pattern
Winter Wonderland repeat surface pattern by Heidi Vilkman
 

 

Bee Garden surface pattern design
Bee Garden Surface Pattern by Heidi Vilkman (from the Secret Garden collection)

 

Elder surface pattern design
Elder surface pattern design

My surface pattern designs on products

My repeating patterns work beautifully printed on various materials and mediums, including fabric, textiles, stationery and home decor. Within these categories, I am often able to alter the repeat and its colour ways according to its intended use. I love seeing my designs become real things in the world, and the thought of my customers jotting down their creative ideas in my notebooks and wrapping their presents with my gift wrap, fills me with childlike wonderment and joy.

Surface pattern plates and fabric
Surface pattern plates and fabric with my designs
Bedding set with Midsummer Night Spell pattern
Bedding set with Midsummer Night Spell pattern
Nutcrackers repeat pattern
Nutcrackers surface repeat pattern in two colour ways on fabric

You can purchase a selection of my surface pattern designs on various products, including fabric, stationery and home decor via these links:

Heidi Vilkman on Spoonflower

Heidi Vilkman on Society6

What is surface pattern design?

Surface pattern design means a design with a pattern applied to a surface, whether this is paper, textile, ceramic, plastic or other material. Most of the products you see around you every day, including product packaging, gift wrap and soft furnishing, have some form of surface design applied to them. In effect surface design is one of the most widely used types of designs in the world, and it encompasses nearly unlimited styles and creative techniques.

Inspiration for my surface pattern designs: Scandinavia and beyond!

Having lived most of my life close to nature, I draw inspiration from organic, natural forms for my patterns. Growing up as a child in a Scandinavian forest, the folktales and mythology connected to nature is often present in my pattern work. 

Here’s a little more about my approach to surface pattern design.

Hibernation surface patter design
Hibernation surface patter design by Heidi Vilkman

I love illustrating seasonal scenes; using beautiful hand-drawn imagery to convey a story. Floral patterns, particularly flowers and small botanical details in natural landscapes, speak to my soul. A forager by heart, I love exploring the countryside, with its forests and meadows, for beguiling subject matters. Often during my wild forays, I pick a few flowers and draw them at home with my daughter; nature is a timeless inspiration for us both.

The pattern below titled ‘Land of Ligularia’, was inspired by visiting my mother’s beautiful garden in my hometown in Finland. My mother loves butterflies and is always planting insect-friendly flowers to attract beautiful pollinators. Every late summer, her garden is visited by various butterfly species; one particular year there was an abundance of Fritillary butterflies, that absolutely loved the bright orange Ligularia flowers.

Land of Ligularia surface pattern repeat
Land of Ligularia surface pattern repeat, inspired by my mother’s garden in Finland

On the other hand, I also like a very simplistic, clean style, where flowers become more like symbolic shapes, rather than literal representations of the actual plant. One example of this is my Floral Retro Geometrics pattern collection, with its bold colours and geometric shapes. This kind of style is playful and fun, but also very timeless.

Retro Geometrics pattern collection
Retro Geometrics pattern collection by Heidi Vilkman

My design process:

Words can only tell you so much about the way I create my work, so in order to get a better idea, you can have a peek at my surface pattern-making process via my Youtube channel. Don’t forget to check the other making-of artwork videos whilst there.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lGoFXVKXD18
https://www.youtube.com/shorts/hziU6e2UE6k

My illustrative design style

Even in the age of digital illustration, I start my surface pattern design using traditional tools. Every design is initially created as a pencil sketch, whether it is for a simple flat style or a more illustrative motif. For several years now, I have used a special Graphgear pencil, which travels to most places with me. There is something wonderfully sensual about holding a pencil to a sheet of paper, and feeling the texture under the pencil tip. Call me old-fashioned, but I never fully get that wonderful feeling from drawing digitally on an iPad or a tablet. 

Surface Pattern design colouring process
Surface Pattern design colouring process (hand-drawn ink sketch, which is painted with watercolors)

After finishing my pencil sketch, I go over the lines with ink markers of varying thicknesses. Sometimes I use only simple single lines, at other times, a much more detailed drawing style, like seen in these examples. Once completed, the pencil lines are removed by rubber, and the designs are scanned into my computer. In either Illustrator or Photoshop, the drawings are digitized and further cleaned up, and assembled into a repeat pattern. 

My design process starts in the analog world and ends up as a digital pattern on my computer. That for me is a good compromise between originality and productivity.

Kingfishers sketch and pattern
Kingfishers ink sketch and repeating pattern created on Adobe Illustrator

I use Adobe Illustrator when working in a simple, vector style. With more intricate repeat patterns, I assemble the designs in Photoshop. Like with any creative art form, the tools one uses should be the ones most suitable for the job. Furthering from my Scandinavian pattern ideas, my style, like any artistic process, is an ever-evolving thing; as long as one doesn’t stop learning, the design style also never stops refining and reinventing itself.

My surface pattern designs on cups
My surface pattern designs on coffee cups

Please contact me at info@heidivilkman.com to see my Surface Pattern portfolio and commission me for your own special project. 

I look forward to hearing from you about your Surface Pattern Design project!