Claire Salisbury is a surface pattern designer who thoroughly enjoys dedicating her time to the creation of vibrant and lively patterns to prints in her studio. She is also a past student of our partners, Make It In Design. With a focus on playfulness, colourfulness, and freshness, she strives to design captivating visuals that can be seamlessly applied to an extensive range of products and surfaces.
From clothing to gift wrap, stationery to wall art, fabric to wallpaper, Claire constantly explores innovative ways to incorporate patterns into various mediums. Her purpose is to infuse life and energy into everyday objects, transforming them into visually appealing pieces that bring joy to people’s lives.
Working in a professional manner, she approaches each project with meticulous attention to detail and a commitment to delivering high-quality designs. Clare takes pride in her ability to create patterns that not only capture attention but also reflect the unique personality and style of the intended product or surface. By combining passion for creativity with a professional mindset, Clare is able to produce exceptional surface patterns and prints that not only meet but exceed the expectations of clients and consumers alike.
Claire is also passionate about protecting her intellectual property (IP). She has the ‘Member of ACID’ logo stamped large on her website with an accompanying IP statement. She is also an ACID IP Charter signatory which states she believes in respect, ethics, and compliance in design.
Your designs are bold and often bright, when and why did you decide to become a surface pattern designer?
I discovered surface pattern design quite late on but fell in love with it straight away.
I’ve always been creative & was determined to be a fashion designer from when I was about 12 years old, I loved making my own clothes and adapting clothes I already had into something more unique. When I was at school I wanted to take Art but was told by the art teacher that I had no talent & would never pass the exam so I couldn’t take it, my creative confidence took a huge knock. I did carry on with Fashion & Textiles which I loved but after 6th form college I decided that I probably wouldn’t be good enough to be a designer as it’s so competitive, so instead of going to university at 18 I got a pretty decent job.
I carried on with my creative interests over the years, handmade everything for our wedding in 2003, made cards, scrapbooked, knitted, crocheted. I also had a small online business selling felt craft kits designed by me called Crafty Alchemy, it was doing ok but I didn’t love it anymore, I knew I needed a change.
In 2014 I kept seeing adverts for courses with Make It In Design on how to become a surface pattern designer but I kept hearing that art teacher saying I wasn’t good enough in my head. Finally in 2015 I decided to go for it & signed up for their Module One Course. I hadn’t drawn in years, I’d never used Adobe Photoshop before, it felt like a huge leap into the unknown. I had so much to learn & it was just brilliant, I loved it, I had found my thing! It had taken me until I was 35 years old to work out what I wanted to do. I really wish I’d known this was a career option when I was 18.
And many years later I still love it.
What is your design process for coming up with new patterns?
Whether I’m working to a brief or designing just for the fun of it I usually start with a brainstorming session. I’ll grab a cup of tea, some paper & a pen and just start writing down any words that come to mind when thinking about the theme I’m working with, like what colours do I want to use? How do I want this collection to feel? – happy, relaxing, festive etc, What motifs could I use? What products could this collection be used for? Once I start writing, inspiration starts crackling, other ideas start forming and after about 10 minutes I’ve got a good, solid set of ideas written down to work from.
Then I’ll create a mood board for visual inspiration using pictures I’ve taken mixed with a few images from Pinterest, this helps me to see how the colours work together & how to create the mood or vibe I’m looking for as well as keeping me on track whilst I’m designing. I also include the key points from the brainstorming session on there too as I refer back to it whilst working on the collection.
I’ll start drawing the motifs I want to use in my sketchbook then I scan them, clean them up digitally and then I start playing & creating patterns. It’s very much a “How does this look here?” “What if I put that there?” type of process, moving images around, adding things and trying it out until I’m happy with the final design.
Where really inspires you to come up with new designs?
I’m inspired by a few places really, definitely my home town Blackpool, the bright lights of the Blackpool Illuminations at night, the Promenade, the sea, the beach, the noises, the smells, it’s quite a lively place.
Then there’s the Lake District in Cumbria, it’s completely the opposite, quiet, peaceful, it’s just a place I can really relax & recharge and being surrounded by nature is like being surrounded by inspiration for me.
We’ve also recently visited Newquay in Cornwall & I’ve returned feeling inspired by the bright colours & beach lifestyle as well as all the little streets and independent shops. We spent a bit of time at the Eden Project too and I have a few plans for some new floral/botanical surface pattern collections in the not too distant future.
What steps do you take to protect your IP rights?
I keep all my original sketches, which are all dated & signed. All of my sketches are scanned into my computer so there’s a digital trail & I have all of the designs saved in various stages & versions to prove creation/ownership of the design.
Everything I put on social media has my logo on it & has a low resolution.
But being a member of ACID is probably the biggest step I take, the ACID logo is on several pages on my website & it makes it clear that should my work be copied, action will be taken which is usually enough to deter anyone from being deliberately sneaky.
There’s also the IP Databank within ACID which is an extra layer of protection, I have some new designs that I need to upload to the IP Databank very soon.
Have you ever found yourself in a situation where your IP has been infringed? If yes, how did you deal with it? What was the impact?
I am extremely lucky that this hasn’t happened to me, but it really is infuriating to see it happen to other designers & independent businesses. I can only imagine how upset & heartbroken I’d feel if it happened to me and I really feel sorry for those who have had their IP infringed and have had to have the upset & hassle of fighting to protect their livelihood.
Did you have any knowledge of intellectual property when you started your business?
I had a basic knowledge of intellectual property, but I knew it was a very important thing and that I needed to know more so I made sure to do my research and learn everything I could about it.
Which ACID Membership services have you used and how have you benefited from being a Member?
The first thing I did on joining ACID was to add the logo to my website, especially on my portfolio & design archive pages, this shows people I am aware of IP & how to protect my work and as such acts as a deterrent to would be design thieves but it also shows companies that are interested in working with me that I have integrity as a designer.
I also have quite a few new designs & collections to upload to the ACID IP Databank.
Have you brought anything new to the marketplace recently that you would like to share?
I’m currently working on some new colourful digital printable art for my Etsy shop to expand my current printable art collection
What is the best aspect of ACID Membership for your business?
I think that the best aspect of ACID Membership is knowing there is someone in my corner if my work has been copied. I can get advice & support from people who are specialists in IP to help me navigate the situation. And just being a member of ACID & displaying the logo on my website is a deterrent in itself.
What advice would you offer to a new designer?
Cultivate good habits when it comes to organisation. It’s not the most exciting advice ever but starting off with an organised digital filing system for your design work is much easier than trying to organise all your work later on down the line. It makes everything much easier when it comes to managing your collections, licensing work and you can easily locate everything should you ever need to deal with anyone infringing your IP.
Another piece of advice would be back your work up regularly on a separate hard drive, I once lost a lot of work due to a laptop/dog related accident, it’s something you only do once but it’s better to avoid experiencing it altogether.
ACID values the support of its members to enable it to campaign for design law reform. Do you have any messages for Government/Policy Makers on IP issues? Do you think that copying of designs is deliberate and blatant?
Greater protection is very much needed for independent designers/small design companies as is wider knowledge of IP for everyone in general, along with serious penalties for those who do infringe someone else’s IP. There currently isn’t much of a deterrent.
Sometimes people new to the industry aren’t always aware of IP and do make a mistake, but once this is explained to them they tend to stop, learn & start again. When a large company is copying something from an independent designer they know what they are doing and are banking on the designer not having the funds or energy to challenge them or stop them. This needs to change and ACID is one of the loudest voices campaigning for that change.
You are an ACID IP Charter Signatory. Thank you for your support in becoming a part of our voice to fight against design theft.
Claire Salisbury Studios