Why I signed up for Bonnie Christine’s Surface Pattern Design Immersion Course?

Oh. My. Monkeyness! It’s almost time for Bonnie Christine’s 2020 Surface Design Immersion Course and enrolment only opens once a year. Many of Bonnie’s alumni have described Immersion as completely life-changing and empowering. Registration closes on February 25th, which means it’s crunch time if you’ve been umming and ahhing about signing up for this comprehensive training from one of the industry’s most esteemed teachers.

This post includes affiliate links, which means that if you sign up via my link I may receive a commission from Bonnie. There’s absolutely no extra cost to you and as a bonus, you’ll be helping a fellow student make her way in this world! One of the things that really stands out about Bonnie is her willingness to help her students and the surface design industry in general, and her affiliate program is just one demonstration of her generosity as a teacher and business woman.

And since I know only too well how expensive it is to feed this art habit, if you do decide to sign up through my link, I’ll send you £50 worth of gift vouchers from my favourite online art materials supplier, Jackson’s Art, to nourish your inner muse.

2020 marks the third iteration of the Immersion Course. This is an update of the post I wrote for last year’s intake. I had really wanted to take it when it first launched in 2018 but wasn’t in any position to participate at that stage. So last year I was thrilled to see she was offering it again and eagerly signed up, intending to throw myself into it with all of my being. I felt more settled, more prepared for the commitment and massively excited by the chance to improve my creative skills, boost my business savvy and get out of my own way. However, the passing of a very close family member in the second week of the course threw me completely, comprehensively off-track (for much of 2019 in fact).

So, I’m back for a fresh start, having observed the course from a frustrated distance last year. But I did witness enough to be tremendously impressed. Impressed by how much Bonnie has put into Immersion, impressed by the progress of the other participants, impressed by Bonnie’s input after the 8 weeks were up, impressed by the warm, welcoming and supportive atmosphere of the Immersion Facebook Group. Even though I wasn’t able to work through the program, I knew in my heart it was money well spent.

If you’re not at all familiar with Bonnie’s teaching style, why not register for her free 4 Day Masterclass, Crafting a Career you LOVE in Surface Design in which she covers the essential stages to becoming a licensing artist, mapping out your personal roadmap to your success and tips on how to add multiple streams of income to your business as a designer.

⁣The free Masterclass begins on Monday, February 10th and only runs for a limited length of time, so sign up quickly to save your spot!

Bonnie’s Immersion Course offers tremendous value and opportunities, but it’s still a significant up-front investment (especially on the Aussie dollar) and I certainly deliberated long and hard – ok, agonised – about parting with my very limited funds to register. I’m going to briefly explain why I decided to leap off the do-I-don’t-I-sign-up-for-another-course fence and join the wonderful community of Immersion students and alumni. Maybe some of my reasoning will resonate with you.

I need to get out of my own way and transition from pattern dreamer to pattern doer!

Have you, like me, let your pattern design dreams quietly rust in the “maybe one day” basket? For the last few years, I’ve had to let Monkeyshine go while attending to the rest of life’s busy-ness. But lately, my deeply stifled creative aspirations have wriggled obstinately back into my consciousness where they’re insisting on my attention.

Perhaps they resurfaced as part of the grieving process after the recent parting across the rainbow bridge of my precious feline soulmate — my constant studio companion back when I was Monkeyshining more regularly. (Edit: It’s been a year since I first wrote this and his loss still feels just as raw). Perhaps entering the second half of my forties has dawned within me the uncomfortable recognition that if I don’t take immediate action, my fifties will be upon me and my Monkeyshine hopes will have crumbled into dismal little piles of sleepy dust.

Whatever the reason, I’m feeling a big, existential nudge to at last start nurturing these inner yearnings. But where to actually begin (again)? And how do I overcome that sense of hopelessness about how saturated the surface design industry has become? And once I’ve started, how do I maintain momentum? And how do I keep my work fresh and true to my own style amidst the pressures of trends and short attention spans that dominate the design industry. You may well have a similar rabble of questions and objections jostling for space in your head!

You must have courage and you must start

Enter — with serendipitous timing and like a fairy godmother with an apple pencil for a wand — the ever calm, ever gracious, ever inspiring Bonnie Christine and her solidly structured yet approachable 8 week Surface Pattern Design Immersion Course. This year, the course is broken down into 6 modules, with an an implementation week after modules 2 and 4 where we’re able to consolidate what we’ve learned in the previous weeks. This year the material is entirely freshly recorded, and Bonnie is also offering new topics and material to ensure we get relevant and up-to-date training. The 6 modules for 2020 are as follows:

  • Module 1: Intro to Illustrator
  • Module 2: Illustrator Mastery
  • Module 3: Repeating Patterns Pro
  • Module 4: Collection Creation & Portfolio Building
  • Module 5: Licensing your Art
  • Module 6: Creative Entrepreneurship

This is exactly the foundation and roadmap I need to help me find focus and a fresh outlook, stay on track, and take actual steps toward building a career in surface design. For an in depth look at the entire 8 week schedule, and to find out what tools, supplies and software you’ll need, visit the 2020 Immersion Course details page. If you still have questions, Bonnie most likely addresses them in the FAQ on that page.

For me, it’s much more about the business of being a licensing artist than it is about learning the software

In addition to Monkeyshine, I wear another creative hat as artist and designer in a partnership called Landslide. I’m collaborating with a geologist to produce prints and patterns derived from microscope images of thin slices of rock. It’s taken me nearly 3 years — squeezing in time around the rest of life — to refine our process to a point where we have a beautiful collection of professional level images to present.

Our first solo exhibition of artworks opened at Wild Island Gallery last February and I was greatly encouraged by the wonderful reception our framed prints and stretched canvases received. I’m keen to seize the momentum we’ve gained and further explore the creation and licensing of patterns from our images, but feel quite hamstrung in how to actually put together a cohesive collection of patterns, how to market ourselves and how to go about finding licensing deals, agents, etc.

The very nature of these images means that I need to create the patterns in raster software like Adobe Photoshop®, so why am I considering Immersion when its focus is on pattern design in Adobe Illustrator®? Simply put, the portfolio creation, business, marketing and pattern industry material that Bonnie covers and the more than ten years of experience that she shares are the really big draws for me.

As for the Illustrator® component, while I’m actually fairly adept with that software, it’s been quite a while since I’ve thought and played in vector so I’m super excited to get back into it. I’m also keen to learn how I can bring a more hand-drawn, personalised and textured feel to my Illustrator work.

And then there’s the community of fellow students

A lack of confidence in my artistic endeavours and in my abilities as a businesswoman have held me back for years. I put this to Bonnie in an email and as part of her reply, she said:

The community is truly amazing at building confidence and gives you a place of like minded creatives to just call ‘home’. A place to ask questions and get support – it’s really amazing!

Bonnie Christine

Reading the feedback from over 75 students who completed Immersion 2018, it’s clear that the community which Bonnie has built and nurtured is a very beautiful, helpful and supportive place. Over the last year, as a member of the Immersion Facebook Group, I’ve observed that there are invaluable insights and support to be gained by sharing your work and ideas with fellow students. I’m also drawn to Bonnie’s authenticity and her genuine interest in seeing others succeed in what can be a tough and demoralising environment.

To me, what sets Bonnie apart from the many others teaching surface pattern design is her willingness to share her experience and insights so openly and honestly.

Several years ago I did Bonnie’s fantastic Design Surface Pattern Designs from Scratch class on CreativeLive when it first came out, and subsequently a few of her Skillshare courses. If you’re not aware, CreativeLive broadcast past and new classes for free, so it’s worth subscribing to their newsletter to keep an eye out for when Bonnie’s courses are on air or you can check out CreativeLive’s current calendar of free on-air classes. (Pro tip: if you download their iOS app, you can watch one free lesson of your choice every day). Bonnie’s philosophy that there’s “room for everyone” is a refreshingly different take on what sometimes comes across as an “only the talented few can make it” attitude.

Another demonstration of Bonnie’s generosity is that once you’ve registered, you get lifetime access to this year’s version of the Immersion course. This means that even though the actual live delivery of the course happens over 8 weeks, I’ll still be able to work through the material at my own pace afterwards. The reality is, I’m still going to have to fit this in around the demands of everyday life, so from that point of view I’m looking at the modules as a long-term blueprint with an immediate, 8 week kickstart. What’s more, Bonnie invites past students to retake the course each year at a significant discount, which seems a wonderful opportunity to freshen up on skills and recharge the inspiration batteries!

What jolted me into signing up last year was hearing the following words from The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz.

We have just the present to be alive… We have the idea that we have many years in the future. But do we? … [We have the choice] to use every moment to be happy, to do what we really enjoy doing… When we try to live in the past, how can we enjoy the present? When we dream of the future, why must we carry the burden of the past? When are we going to live in the present?

from The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom by Don Miguel Ruiz

I have spent so many years intending to get round to working on my dreams, living in the future and not in the moment. So, with those compelling words ringing in my ears, I made the decision to sign up for Bonnie’s course. I want to immerse myself fully, boldly and proactively in bringing my Monkeyshine and Landslide surface design aspirations to life. Will you join me? I know it’s going to be fantastically rewarding!

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