Family Tree: Branching Out
Creating a surface pattern collection from one central design.
It began with a single leaf. My contribution to a calendar promoting Chicago’s Newberry Library debuted in the month of April, then went on to become much more. The initial task was to represent the library’s Genealogy Floor by creating an image encompassing multiple American heritages with their global origins. I chose to design a tribute leaf for each country or culture based on the motifs and colors I’d researched, then loosely assembled them to form our nation’s Family Tree.
Fast-forwarding to 2022: As the creative brief provided by the client had been limited to representing select continents, I expanded on the original tree by adding new leaf designs reflecting indigenous art from Latin America, Asian Pacific nations, and New Zealand, where I was born. The leaves were arranged into a repeat, while keeping the same loose placement on the bough.
A budding new collection. Next, I challenged myself to design to a full collection of surface patterns, iterating on the single-leaf motifs. I chose a shape or section in each motif to craft new, seamless repeats and simplified the initial color palettes. The new motifs turned out to be very different from one another, yet an umbrella aesthetic holds them together.
A pattern collection is akin to a family, where the siblings are unique while the parents’ genes are expressed differently in each. I think of my brother at 6’4” with auburn hair, freckles and fair skin, and me standing a foot shorter with an olive complexion and dark curls. Eyes, toes, nose. Fun, puns, buns.
Seems evolution is its own artform.
Can you match up the leaf to the motif? Comment below with the leaf letter and motif name.