An Interview with Gloria Franco of G&Silk
Gloria is surface pattern designer and business owner currently based in Almeria, Spain. In 2021, she established G&Silk, a brand of luxury scarves handmade in Spain, where she can join her creativity with marketing experience and love for patterns.
When did you get started in surface pattern design?
I was twenty-one when I started painting gouache motifs with color variations to be used as patterns. It was in Paris at my design school. I mainly did fashion design silhouettes at the time.
How did your degree in fashion help you as a surface pattern designer?
Twenty years after my fashion degree, I returned to design and remembered that surface patterns are what I loved creating the most. Also, my teachers at the time had told me I should focus on that. They had told me I should create for interior design and Haute Couture. So, it gave me much confidence to start learning by myself how to make patterns digitally this time around.
Were you formerly involved as a designer in another capacity, or was surface pattern design an entirely new endeavor for you?
In Paris, I did what they called “stages” or internships designing silhouettes and motifs both for Couture brands and for the fast fashion industry that was emerging at the time at Le Sentier, an area in Paris with lots of textile companies. As part of my marketing work, I designed some packaging. But I stayed away from design for many years until 2016 when I started studying again.
Is surface pattern design a full-time career choice, something you do part-time, or your hobby?
Surface pattern at Gloriasurfacepatterndesign.com and my scarf brand, G&Silk, is my full-time work.
How did you learn what you know about surface pattern design?
I have always loved fabrics. I grew up dressed in lovely Cacharel prints. I always paid much attention to textile prints in decoration. Then I started learning design and purchasing books about Textile History. I had those books with me for twenty-five years before finally crossing the line between passion and student of the techniques and the ways to create them. I started taking all the online courses I could that were available to me in 2016, and I opened my design studio in 2019.
Where do you find inspiration?
My art teacher used to say that as a fashion designer, everything must inspire us. I focus on my inner world and ideas rather than trends. There is so much talent in the world that I think you have to be yourself if you want to offer something a little different.
Can you walk us through your design process?
Typically, I start with an idea. It can be a memory, an issue that matters to me, or a feeling. I keep the design as simple as I can. Maybe because I am a fashion stylist, not a Beaux-Arts student, I look for the essence of the concept I want to create, not so much the details. Then I focus on the color palette. I conceive my patterns as a musical composition. Color balance is what matters the most to me. From a certain distance, there has to be harmony. When you are close, you can see if the motifs are flowers or birds. What matters the most to me is the rhythm of the pattern, not so much the detail of each element. I like them to have a lot of energy and visual impact. I enjoy creating color combinations. It’s the same for my scarf designs: I want them to convey good vibes, joy, and many colors!
Which program or programs do you use to create your designs?
I mix everything. Some of my patterns are all vectors (I love Adobe Illustrator). Others start in Adobe Illustrator, and then I add details and depth to them in Adobe Photoshop or Procreate. Or I will make everything in Procreate and then build the pattern in Adobe Photoshop. I love mixing techniques.
Where can we view your portfolio?
At the moment, I am restyling my studio website: www.gloriasurfacepatterndesign.com. I had an online portfolio, but over the summer, I decided to delete it, update things, and create new material. You can still see many of my designs on my scarves at www.gandsilk.com.
Have you worked with art directors or had your designs licensed? What was that experience like if so?
When I opened the design studio, I got designs licensed on wallpapers, stationery, and clothes right away. Seeing the designs on actual products is lovely, especially those that convey messages dear to my heart. Others have also been licensed, but I did not get to see the products made with them. I also enjoyed seeing my scarves hand-picked by excellent fashion stylists and photographers for magazines.
Do you have a favorite design or collection of designs?
My dearest design is the “Colibri” design for many reasons. It was the design where I found my floral style language. All textile designers make florals. I don’t focus on them, but I wanted to find my floral language, and with the Colibri design, I made it. It was available for a limited time on Patternbank and in their newsletter as the Editor’s cover pick. Creatsy also chose it for our first collaboration. It has been featured in many Photoshoots on my scarves. So, yes, it is my dearest design, no doubt.
How do you use product mockups with your designs?
My studio website slogan is: “LET’S CREATE TOGETHER.” So, when I launched the studio in 2019, it was imperative to showcase my patterns on products to reach a maximum of potential customers in all kinds of industry sectors. The patterns you see in my online store are available under industry licenses, which means they can be sold more than once but are exclusive to each sector. When I discovered Creatsy mockups, I was so happy! They are exactly what I needed. A year later, I started my scarf brand, and I got even luckier, having customized mockups with the dimensions and fabrics of my scarves. Mockups play a significant role in my studio and my brand.
Describe your ideal working day.
First, waking up in good health and being in good spirits would be ideal! Hehe. I used to dedicate much time to my social media in the morning. I currently spend a lot less time on social media because I don’t have the fandeestampados account anymore, only the @gandsilk and the @gloriasurfacepatterndesign accounts. But still, I have to answer emails and requests. Mornings are always for the business aspect of the studio and the brand: taking care of stuff on the online stores, websites, orders, preparing new Instagram posts and new products for the store, creating ads, etc. I have two different businesses, so it takes double the time. Afternoons are for creating here at my home studio with excellent natural light and pleasant music or podcasts. I stop when my dog Nuki gets under the desk and looks at me to go for a walk, and the sun has already been set for a while.
Tell us about your products.
I sell digital products at www.gloriasurfacepatterndesign.com, such as patterns and logos. I send native files (Adobe Illustrator or Adobe Photoshop) to clients with exclusive or industry licenses. They can purchase available designs at the online store or order exclusive ones. I also sell physical products such as luxury silk and wool scarves through my other online store, www.gandsilk.com. They are 100% handmade in Spain using the highest quality silk and can be shipped worldwide.
How do you choose the artists you promote?
During the Pandemic lockdown in March 2020, I created an Instagram account to support around 12,000 artists with stories and posts to connect them. I was followed by more than 12,000 accounts of mostly artists in less than a year. So, when in 2021, the opportunity of having my brand appeared, I reached out to some artists that I loved, felt good vibes from, and were aligned not only with the G & Silk style but also with the values. The account fandeestampados got stolen (hacked), and the community was lost from there, so I don’t look for artists anymore. The contracts at G & Silk were for one year only, so many are no longer available, and others will be removed soon. These days, I focus on my designs and do open calls every three months. My goal is to give talented students and artists a chance, not to build my brand around others. It is just something I love doing on the side, but it is not the essence of G & Silk.
Is there a way people can apply to be featured as an artist you work with or promote?
It is super easy. My open calls are via Instagram exclusively. Artists must create an original scarf 70x70 cm in RGB color at 300 dpi under the open call theme. Once they have the design, they have to follow the brand, make a post on their grid mentioning that it is a submission for the G & Silk open call, and use the #gandsilk hashtag. If selected, their design is sold at the store for a minimum of three months, and they get a 14% commission.
Is there anything else you want us to know about you and what you do?
To understand what I do, it is essential to know that this is a personal brand and project in every single way. As I said before, as a designer, I don’t follow trends. As an entrepreneur, what matters the most is that the people who make my products, the artists who collaborate with me, and the customers are treated with all the respect and fairness they deserve, as I wish all brands would do. It is a slow fashion way of creating. That matters a lot to me.
Also, I want to thank you, Creatsy. You have been an essential part of creating my brand. Your mockups allow me to showcase many designs without having to fabricate them all and enable me to showcase how versatile my pattern creations can be. Thank you so much. Silky Kisses, Gloria.
Gloria Franco x Creatsy
We are really thankful to you for letting us use your incredible designs in our fabric and fashion mockups. Thank you Gloria!