Should you sign up for Bonnie Christine’s Surface Pattern Design Immersion Course too?

Oh. My. Monkeyness! It’s launch week for Bonnie Christine’s 2019 Surface Design Immersion Course and enrolment only opens once a year. Registration closes on February 26th, which means it’s crunch time if you’ve also been umming and ahhing about whether or not to sign 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 — as a result of my remarkable powers of persuasion and sound reasoning — I may receive a commission. There’s absolutely no extra cost to you and as a bonus, you’ll be helping a fellow student to find her feet and inch her way out of art supply debt! 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 £40 worth of gift vouchers from my favourite online art materials supplier, Jackson’s Art, to nourish your inner muse.

First off, if you’re not at all familiar with Bonnie’s teaching style, why not register for her free Mini Course on the Business of Surface Design in which she covers tips on how to find your signature style, how to promote your work and stand out from the crowd and how to make a living as a surface pattern designer.

2019 marks the second iteration of Immersion. I really wanted to take it last year when it first launched but wasn’t in any position to participate. However, this year I’m ready! I feel more settled, more courageous, 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.

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

Now’s the time to make time to pursue my dreams

Have you, like me, left your pattern design dreams to rust away 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’ve 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. Perhaps turning 46 last week has dawned within me the uncomfortable recognition that if I don’t take immediate action, my fifties will be upon me and my Monkeyshine dreams 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. Here’s the breakdown of modules:

  • Module 1: Intro to Illustrator
  • Module 2: Illustrator Advanced
  • Module 3: Repeating Patterns Pro
  • Module 4: Working in Collection
  • Module 5: Designing a Portfolio
  • Module 6: Creating your Irresistible Package
  • Module 7: Propelling your Work into the World
  • Module 8: The Business of Surface Design

I can already see that 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 (my career!) in surface design. For an in depth look at the entire 8 week schedule, visit the 2019 Immersion Course details 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 on 1 February and we’ve been quite humbled by the wonderful reception our framed prints and stretched canvases have 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.

And 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 chronic lack of confidence in my work 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 last year, it’s clear that the community which Bonnie has built and nurtured is a very beautiful, helpful and supportive place. I’m also drawn to Bonnie’s authenticity, her genuine interest in seeing others succeed in what can be a tough environment.

To me, what sets Bonnie apart is her willingness to share her experience and insights so openly and honestly.

Several years ago I did Module 1 and half-heartedly participated in Module II of The Art and Business of Surface Pattern Design. While I enjoyed Module 1 (and met some fantastic people with whom I’m still connect via Facebook®), I felt that Module II rather fizzled for me, I didn’t feel engaged and I just couldn’t get into it. I haven’t done MATS. I can’t pinpoint it exactly but there’s something about the MATS style that simply doesn’t appeal to me. I also feel that for the money, I should be able to expect more interaction and feedback than it appears the self-paced versions of MATS A and B currently offer. But I did do 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.

And finally, the price of the course is still the same as last year

That’s right. Bonnie hasn’t put up the price this year. Which means, ahem, that it’s quite conceivable that the price could well go up next year so why not grab it at the original launch price while I can?

Another demonstration of Bonnie’s generosity is that once you’ve registered, you get lifetime access to Immersion. 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 no extra cost, which seems a wonderful opportunity to freshen up on skills and recharge the inspiration batteries!

I recently heard the following words from The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. They jolted me into truly acknowledging the importance of living in the moment.

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

So, with those compelling words ringing in my ears, I’m decisively pulling my pattern design dreams out of the “maybe one day” basket and making the choice to sign up for Bonnie’s class. I want to immerse myself fully and boldly in a career in surface design, not quietly hanker after one, and I want to get going now. Will you join me? I know it’s going to be fantastically rewarding!

I plan to keep a journal of my progess via this blog, so if you’re interested in following how I go, I’d love you to subscribe to my newsletter via the form in my footer. Better yet, why not register for Immersion yourself and let me know about your own progress, as well as send me pictures of the wonderful haul of art supplies you’ve bought yourself using the £40 of Jackson’s Art vouchers I’ve sent you as a bonus for signing up via my link :).

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