100 days of pattern by teresa magnuson

Making 100 Days of Patterns on Instagram (And How You Get to the Finish Line)

100 Days of Pattern by Teresa Magnuson

A 100-Day Challenge

Not your normal New Year's resolution. In mid-January, this emerging surface designer decided to take on a 100-day creative challenge– as seen typically on Instagram.

And then the “fun” began. #100tmagpatterns

For these challenges, artists and creatives of any sort, dare themselves to push their limits, get out of their comfort zone and hold themselves accountable by posting results on IG.

I’ve seen challenges ranging from 100 fruit illustrations to 100 hand-lettered postcards to 100 tea cup portraits. For me, when two renown pattern artists I follow, Jessica Swift and Kelly Parker Smith, announced and invited others to take on 100 Patterns in 100 Days, I said no way! Not for me.

But wait a minute…

Sounds pretty crazy, like uber crazy, until you realize that is exactly how you could build your portfolio of pattern designs– one at a time.

Take it one day at a time and concentrate on one pattern without the over-whelm of creating multiple pieces or an instant collection. You create one pattern per day and at the end of the day “hit publish”!

(Just for reference, a pattern designer would want at least 200+ pieces, or patterns, for licensing, to have a robust portfolio to present to licensors.)


strike offs from teresa magnuson fabrics and 100 days of patterns

Creative ADHD

I often get asked where I get my ideas and I have to say I have “creative ADHD”. In other words, I have a lot of ideas in my head and welcomed the idea of putting some of them onto paper, so to speak. Some work out as a pleasing design, and some don’t.

The best part about taking on the challenge is that not only am I creating a body of work, but as an artist you find out what you really like to create. And your style– ever so slowly– begins to evolve.

How much time does it take to create a pattern?

Well, that depends... on how complicated the pattern is, how comfortable you are with the software, how many drawings you use, and if those drawings need to be scanned in or were already created digitally.

I would say a pattern averages anywhere from one to five hours for me. The majority of my designs start out as drawings, which I scan in with my iPhone. If I end up spending 4-5 hours, I usually have a few versions and can create a coordinate, or several, at the same time. (When the ideas flow, you gotta flow with ‘em!)

I have found that if you create coordinates when you’re in the groove, you not only have a more cohesive collection, but you don’t have to return afterwards to get re-inspired or remember what you had in mind to begin with.

Granted, I have also gone back into previous sketches to scout for ideas, and with the added space of time and a fresh perspective on the work already done, I end up creating a new coordinate for that collection.


chickens by teresa magnuson

And then you hit a wall

Yes, the creative block. I hit the wall about half way through my journey of 100 patterns in 100 days. Determined not to give up so early, I asked my email list for ideas. I got a great response, and for some reason, using someone else’s request as a subject for the pattern, removed some of the angst and helped dissolve that barrier to get started.

Zombies Change the Rules

And then there is managing your energy. Being a morning person, I know my creativity and energy is at its highest in the first half of the day. I was giving my work obligations and client work first priority, as most people would, but found myself creating patterns later and later at night. I would hit a second wind and stay up into the wee hours by the time I posted the pattern for the day.

My post at Day 67 went something like this:

“Kind of hit the seventh inning stretch. Instead of 100 patterns in 100 days, I had to give myself a little grace and turn it into 100 Patterns. After all, a morning person staying up late making patterns might be committed to the task but eventually turns into a zombie!

This might take me 150 days but I still get to share new designs with you and build my portfolio at the same time. And...good news. The robins pictured might just make their way into fabric stores across the country, not just MN. A work in progress (WIP) Happy Thursday! “ #fortheloveofpatterns


Measuring Success

So as of this writing, I am at Pattern 72. I am creating patterns and posting them at a manageable pace of about one every other day. The best part is, my pieces caught the attention of a licensor, and I am working behind the scenes creating patterns in addition the the 100 Patterns Collection! (I can’t wait to reveal more details as the scenario evolves)

Yes, taking on a 100 Days of anything is a real challenge. You can pat yourself on the back or, umm, change the rules a little bit! Give yourself some leeway–just saying.

Having participated in the challenge with an underlying intention to build my portfolio was key to measuring my success, rather than measuring the work in amount of days. 

Thank you for following along on my creative journey. I love branding and design, and of course, turning patterns into products. Find more of my work and colorful things in my shop at sunnynclear.com

Follow me on Instagram: @sunnynclear


teresa magnuson with Tigger, sunny and clear

Who and What is Sunny & Clear?

When you mix a Minnesota graphics and surface designer + maker you get magic! As a hybrid artist, Teresa turns her illustrations into something artsy and nice– fabrics, home decor and stationery.
Sunny & Clear was founded in 2015. Teresa brings you whimsical and hand-drawn works, inspired by living in the Land of Ten Thousand Lakes and the delight of a perfect sunny day. “Welcome to my colorful world, where it’s always sunny and clear!”
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