2023 surface design symposium

Are you ready to start or grow your surface design business? You won’t want to miss our third annual Surface Design Symposium, presented in partnership with Spoonflower!

Wherever you are in your surface design journey, these two days of virtual workshops and inspiring discussions with industry pros are sure to prepare you to take the next step.

This virtual event will take place on October 5 and October 6, 2023. Learn more and register for each session below.

Schedule of Events (in Eastern Time)

Thursday, October 5, 2023
Design Workshops & Keynote Speaker Mable Tan

2:30-3:30 pm Design Workshop: Photoshop Shortcuts

3:45-4:45 pm Design Workshop: Procreate as a Digital Sketchbook

5:00-6:00 pm Keynote Speaker: Mable Tan

Friday, October 6, 2023
Panel Discussions

10:30-11:30 am The Latest Trends in Surface Design and How to Spot Trends in Your Own Research

11:45 am-12:45 pm Exploring AI: What Artists and Designers Need to Know

1:00-2:00 pm Grow Your Surface Design Business in Collaboration with Interior Designers

Keynote Speaker

Mable Tan

iamanartist.today@mabeltandesignsSpoonflower shop

October 5, 5-6 pm ET

Mable Tan is a surface designer based in Melbourne, Australia. She loves devoting her passion towards creating pretty things that bring joy and happiness to people. She feels that it is her duty as an artist to do so—in fact, some may say it’s her superpower. Her work has been seen in Target Australia, Spotlight, RICE, Urban Outfitters and Lucy & Yak as well as featured on websites (Oh Joy!) and in magazines (Mantra, Flow, Origin). Mable is also passionate about sharing her knowledge and experience about surface design with her community and helping the next generation of surface designers thrive. She organizes Masterclasses with industry experts and has a free art licensing Facebook group.

Join us for this engaging session where Mable will share her journey and inspire you along the way.

Design Classes

Design Workshop: Photoshop Shortcuts

October 5, 2:30-3:30 pm ET

Hosted by Abby Glassenberg, Co-founder and President, Craft Industry Alliance

Adobe Photoshop is a powerful program with the ability to preserve the textures of your hand drawn, painted and printed artwork. It provides endless options for editing your work, but where do you start? Join us to learn how you can clean up and enhance existing artwork and create a successful repeating pattern with techniques that utilize a variety of tools within Photoshop.

Key highlights of the workshop will include:

Clean up original artwork with time saving tips and tricks.
Enhance your designs with Photoshop tools.
Use Photoshop Pattern Preview to make a successful repeating pattern.

To follow along with this workshop, please have Photoshop already downloaded and open. Don’t have Photoshop? Check out their 7-day free trial.

Instructor: Sarah Watts

Instructor: Sarah Watts


Spoonflower shop

Sarah Watts is an art licensor, Adobe® Photoshop® artist and online art educator. She also designs quilting fabric for Ruby Star Society. Over the years Sarah has worked with 35+ companies across fashion, literary, stationery and gift industries with brands like Target, Hallmark and Penguin Books. Hundreds of students have learned advanced art skills in her flagship course From Paint to Pattern and through her sketchbook membership, Sketchbook Squad. Sarah also loves to make people laugh and is currently taking improv classes.

Design Workshop: Procreate as a Digital Sketchbook

October 5, 3:45-4:45 pm ET

Hosted by Jessie Katz Greenberg, Spoonflower’s Artist Community Manager

Explore how Procreate can help transform your creative process. From brainstorming to sketching, this hands-on workshop will equip you with the skills to turn your iPad into a versatile digital sketchbook that will enhance creativity, offer greater flexibility, and streamline your artistic process.

Key highlights of the workshop will include:
Master Procreate tools for sketching, drawing, and planning.
Streamline your process with time-saving tips and techniques.
Add depth and dimension to your work with brushes, textures, and effects.

Whether you’re an artist, designer or simply looking to enhance your digital sketching skills, join us as we discover the power of Procreate.

For this workshop, please have ready your charged iPad with Procreate installed and an Apple Pencil paired with your iPad.

Instructor: Natalie Brown

Instructor: Natalie Brown


Meet Natalie, the artist behind Threeologie, a thriving handlettering + design studio. With a wealth of business experience, she’s your trusted expert. Natalie’s portfolio includes collaborations with Facebook, Disney and Rihanna. Join her to turn your art into a thriving business!

Artist Panels

The Latest Trends in Surface Design and How to Spot Trends in Your Own Research

October 6, 10:30 am-11:30 pm ET
Moderated by Jessie Katz Greenberg, Spoonflower’s Artist Community Manager

Join us for an inspiring and informative panel discussion as we do a deep dive into the captivating world of color and design trends shaping the industry of surface design in 2023 and beyond. Our expert panel of industry insiders and trend forecasters will share the most influential trends and discuss how you can spot trends on your own to stay one step ahead of the curve.

Whether you’re a seasoned professional or just starting your journey, this session will provide you with insights and inspiration to elevate your work.

Key highlights of this session will include:

Trend Forecasting: Learn to spot evergreen and seasonal trends early and how that can inform your design process.

Emerging Color Trends and Design Motifs: Explore the colors and design motifs that are driving the industry forward and find out how to infuse them into your work.

Market Insights: Gain a competitive edge by staying ahead of market trends and learn how to tailor your designs to meet the ever-evolving demands of clients and consumers.

Expert Tips and Strategies: Hear from seasoned professionals on their creative processes, workflow and strategies for staying inspired and innovative.

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to revitalize your creativity and gain valuable insights into the future of color and design trends.


jeanetta gonzales photo

Jeanetta Gonzales

Jeanetta is a designer, illustrator and artist mentor with 20+ years of design experience. She specializes in surface pattern design, lettering and illustration in a signature style of bold colors, patterns and textures. She creates art for clients such as the New York Times, Target, Michaels, Facebook and Pantone and mentors artists, facilitating their artistic growth and career.

jackie tahara headshot

Jackie Tahara

Jackie Tahara of UnBlink Studio lives and works in beautiful Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, where she is happily surrounded by mountains, forests, beaches and the Pacific Ocean. She creates eye-catching designs and illustrations for fabric, wallpaper, home decor, apparel, tech accessories, stationery and wall art and loves working with collaborators worldwide.

elizabeth silver headshot

Elizabeth Silver

Elizabeth is a surface pattern designer with 20 years in the industry. Her work is regularly featured in major retailers like Target, Michaels and Walmart and she licenses with over 30 partners. She uses her experience to teach beginner surface pattern designers how to move past overwhelm and obstacles to create a profitable creative business.

renee froerer

Renee Froerer

Renee is a full-time creative director, enthusiastic trend hunter, and a pretty competent crafter. She has 20 years experience in the design, stationery and consumer goods spaces. She makes her home in Cleveland, Ohio, where she enjoys biking along the lakeshore and pretending to learn how to play the guitar.

Exploring AI: What Artists and Designers Need to Know

October 6, 11:45 am-12:45 pm ET 
Moderated by Abby Glassenberg, Co-founder and President, Craft Industry Alliance

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has become a transformative force in the world of art and design, offering unprecedented opportunities for creativity, efficiency and innovation. However, with these exciting possibilities come important considerations that artists and designers must navigate. Join us for a thought-provoking conversation where we delve into the pros and cons of integrating AI into your creative process and explore what you need to be aware of as you move forward in this dynamic landscape.

Key highlights of this session will include:

Consideration of the positive contributions of AI including ways it can amplify your creativity, streamline repetitive tasks and push the boundaries of your artistic expression opening up new avenues for exploration.

A look at the ethical dilemmas presented by AI including data privacy, intellectual property rights, bias and the impact on the job market for artists and designers.

The opportunity to hear from industry experts who have experience in leveraging AI for creative purposes, as they share their perspectives on the evolving role of AI in the art and design world.

Note: All information shared during the Surface Design Symposium is for educational purposes only and is not legal advice.


jamie derringer headshot

Jaime Derringer

Jaime is a self-taught artist who creates abstract drawings, paintings, mixed media works and more. In her latest digital works, she uses her background in music making and audio synthesis to explore collaborations with both AI and visual programming software in a creative process in which her own original artwork becomes the canvas. Jaime founded Design-Milk.com in 2006 and grew the brand to over 1M readers worldwide. Her creative consultancy, Unsquare, focuses on coaching startup Founders.

stephen caution headshot

Stephen Caution

Stephen has over 15 years of experience leading new initiatives in companies like JOANN, Walmart, Goodyear and more. He’s led functional areas like business development, marketing, continuous improvement, procurement, and more. Stephen is currently the CEO of TRY Al and is focused on helping businesses and organizations create and implement strategies around Al.

Grow Your Surface Design Business in Collaboration with Interior Designers

October 6, 1:00-2:00 pm ET

Moderated by Jessie Katz Greenberg, Spoonflower’s Artist Community Manager

Are you a surface design artist looking to expand your horizons and elevate your business? Join us for this panel discussion where we’ll explore the power of collaboration between surface design artists and interior designers. We’ll uncover the strategies and insights you need to forge successful partnerships that not only enhance your creative work but also open doors to new opportunities and markets.

Key highlights of this session will include:

Learn why collaboration between surface design artists and interior designers is a win-win for both parties, and how it can lead to greater exposure and business growth.

Discover best practices for initiating and nurturing collaborations, including effective communication, setting expectations and building mutually beneficial relationships.

Gain insights into the unique challenges and opportunities of creating surface patterns and designs tailored specifically for interior spaces, such as wallpapers, textiles and home decor.

Engage with a panel of industry experts as they share their experiences, tips and strategies for thriving in collaborative design ventures.


shelly turner headshot

Shelly Turner

Shelly holds a Bachelor of Science in Interior Design from Colorado State University. She is an avid animal lover, especially horses and dogs, which show up as subjects in her work often. In 2022, Shelly took the leap of faith and pivoted from running her interior design studio to focusing on Spoonflower work full time, and hasn’t looked back!

ebony staten headshot

Ebony Staten

Ebony believes that one’s personal style should seamlessly extend to their living space. Her goal is to provide fashion-forward home design services that enhance the lifestyle of her clients. As the Principal Designer of The Vogue Room LLC, Ebony’s unique blend of tech-savviness and innate sense of style set her apart as a dynamic force in the industry. She also formed The Vogue Room Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit which aims to provide functional and well-designed dorm room spaces for first-generation minority college students.

kim armstrong

Kim Armstrong

As a D1 college athlete, Kim always knew she’d bring drive and determination to her work… she just didn’t know what type of work that might be until she declared an interior design major and never looked back. She started Kim Armstrong Design in 2003 and today is recognized worldwide as an award-winning designer with work featured in magazines such as Cottage Journal, Better Homes and Garden and House Beautiful.