Pattern Pulse: Fostering Creative Communities and Advocacy in the Australian Design Scene with Rachael King

Margo is joined by Aussie Surface Pattern Designer Rachael King. Obsessed with pattern from an early age, Rachael King grew up watching her talented mother making clothes not only for her and her siblings but for bridal and formal events too. While working in her mom’s fabric shop, she mused over how the pattern repeated over the fabric and wondered how fabric was printed and wouldn’t it be wonderful to design fabric too? It took another 23 years before Rachael was able to start a diploma in graphic design that would then lead into her dream of becoming a surface pattern designer. Represented by Nerida Hansen at Surtex in 2017 led to her first licensed collection with Spotlight stores and since then she has worked with fashion, homewares and greeting card companies, been a part owner in a print-on-demand fabric business, self-published two books, and is now teaching and mentoring in her much-loved industry. Rachael adores the connection she makes with fellow designers through her various touchpoints and feels very privileged to be able to inspire and nurture emerging surface designers.

Margo and Rachael discuss:

  • Rachael’s creative path and how her mom instilled a love for creativity in her
  • Self-publishing her book, Pattern Pulse, after initial rejection
  • Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Big Magic, and how it catalyzed her creative endeavors
  • Tribulations and triumphs of women in the creative business landscape: asserting value, advocating for fair compensation, and having a network of peers and mentors
  • The importance of physical art in a digital age
  • Why individuality and authenticity are crucial to the art industry
  • How artists can stay true to their unique style while also being commercially viable
  • Challenges of building a creative community in Australia
  • The influence and support that often comes from maternal figures in fostering creativity
  • Thoughts and tips for artists facing low payment offers

Connect with Rachael:

People inspiring Rachael:

Julie Harrison: My friend Julie is one of the most professional surface pattern designers I have the privilege of calling friend and colleague. Julie’s work ethic and experience makes her a real stand out and she is also the reason I was able to continue on my journey to self-publish. She told me quite simply that it could be done and she walked by my side and encouraged me all the way. An inspiring and very clever artist/ designer and someone who raises the bar when it comes to quality repeats with dreamy trend-focused palettes.

Sarah Campbell: A legend of print, one half of Collier Campbell studio. Sarah continues to run a vibrant practice that always amazes me with her ventures into product and teaching. She releases a newsletter every 3 months and it is always packed with fabulous news and stories. I got the ‘bible’ The Collier Campbell archive for my book collection this year and it is now my absolute favourite. Hard to find and when you do -very expensive!! Plus it weighs 3 kg (6lb). Their most famous print, Cote D Azure is, in my mind, one of the most successful prints of our time.

My mum: Without my mum I would not have the expansive knowledge base that I have of all things fabric and sewing. I didn’t know then what I know now, those many hours watching her sew and then being taught by her to sew gave me a lifelong skill I am forever grateful for. It has helped me tremendously in my surface pattern design career. Mum could turn her hand to anything. Watching her make and create from Fimo modeling clay jewelry, cake decorating through to formal and bridal wear, I only now appreciate how blessed I was. She showed me each day what it is to have the confidence to have a go at a new thing and preserve until you got it. Mum’s kindness and encouragement when I was growing up is part of the reason I feel confident doing what I do now.

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