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Make it in Design Winner: Darlene Seale

Earlier this season, we were asked by the charming folk at Make it Design to set a design brief for one of their popular online courses. It was a fantastic opportunity to collaborate with one of the world’s leading online schools for pattern design, and a chance to discover talented new artists from all over the world.

We asked the students to produce a simple design using just 3 colours with a "natural world" theme. The standard was extremely high, but after much debating we finally decided on three winners; Darlene Seale, Jackie Tahara, Jacqui Mulvagh.We felt all three had a very strong, clear vision of what they were creating, and their designs really stood out for us.

We asked winner Darlene Seale a few questions about her designs, her process, and where she finds inspiration for her work.

Where do you call home?

I’m from Fallbrook, California, a small town north of San Diego. I grew up here in a rural environment that has informed my art in a big way.

How long have you been designing patterns?

I’ve been designing from childhood. I taught high school art for about 18 years and then decided I just wanted to pursue art full time. I worked as an in-house graphic designer for 12 years at a local company doing a lot of advertising art and work for publications and non-profits. This increased my skills in a big way. But in my heart I felt like I wanted to create my own work and so I started studying pattern design, taking many courses and building my portfolio over the last 5 years.

Where do you find inspiration?

Where a person lives has a great impact on their inspiration, I believe. I live in a rural Southwestern community with lots of nature at my door, mostly welcome but sometimes not! My inclination is toward Southwest art because it’s cactus and coyote country yet only 20 miles from the Pacific ocean, so it all plays into my motif style. We have a colourful Latino heritage in San Diego which also informs my art.

Which artists have influenced you?

One of my great loves is densely composed patterns with lots of detail and many things to draw the eye. I like the works of Rousseau, and the architectural paintings of Thomas McKnight

Do you have any top tips for artists who are just starting out?

Submit your work! If I hadn’t submitted to Wraptious I wouldn’t even be having this conversation! Don’t be afraid to put your work out into the world because someone will love it! Rejection doesn’t mean “no” - it only means “not yet!” so keep trying and making as much art as you can.

What was the process of coming up with your winning design?

I had previously designed some leaves with a Greek type pattern on them. For the competition I kept focusing on the requirement for keeping the colour palette simple and designing for impact on a smart phone which your customers shop on. It seemed way too simple to my natural inclination but I just took some of those leaves and began arranging them, playing with the color in the background and decided two colors were enough. I love the Greek palette in Mikanos and Santorini of stark white and deep cobalt blue. Perhaps I was designing them for my own outdoor room!

In a dream world, what would you be designing?

On fabrics of course, and beautiful gift wrap. I’d love to have an entire collection for a dreamy outdoor room with cushions, tapestries, rugs and ceramic ware. At the same time, I’d love to be designing illustrations for my own books that I hope to write someday.

Would you like to see more of Darlene's work? You can find her portfolio and more at, or buy her beautiful pattern entries on our website


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