surface pattern designs
There are several ways that you can generate income with your surface pattern designs and we'll show you some of them!

What are surface pattern designs

Surface designs are any type of artwork (e.g. pattern, illustration, hand lettering) which are printed onto fabric for use in the apparel, home, or quilting marketplace.

Examples of surface pattern designs:

  • The pattern on your shirt or dress or socks
  • The carpet under your feet
  • Throw pillows on your couch
  • Wallpaper in a room in your house

As you can see there’s an entire industry of surface designs. And this means that there are many possibilities of generating an income with it.

a floral surface pattern design on fabric
a dress with surface pattern design
surface pattern design on a throw pillow

How you can earn money with your designs

Commissioned work for clients

The most obvious way is to find clients who will pay for your work. That said you have to actively look for them and/or advertise, at least at the beginning. The revenue will depend on your effectiveness in finding commissions as well as price negotiations. In this case, your creativity might be limited as you will usually have to do what the clients want and how they want it.


Selling your designs on microstocks is very easy. Usually, you just need to create an account and upload your artwork. Then you wait for the stock users to purchase it. The good thing is that once you contribute your designs, you don’t have to do anything else. You can offer your work on many different platforms, which increases your income opportunities. However, the royalties you get for each sold design are not high and you need to sell a lot to be able to make a living out of it. And there are thousands of designs out there and the chance that yours will be picked out are not that great.

Print on Demand

Recently we can observe more and more platforms offering print on demand services. The trend started with T-shirts but there are more and more kinds of products offered in this model (pillows, mugs, phone cases etc.). It works like this that you upload your designs and use them on one or more items available at the platform. Some of them offer you an online store within the platform where you can showcase your products. Your job is to promote your ware and the print on demand company takes care of everything else from manufacturing to shipping and customer care. For each sale of your product, you earn a commission. If you know how to effectively promote your commodities, then this is an easy and convenient way to generate passive income.

Produce and sell your own products

You can create and sell products featuring your artwork (clothes, decor, prints, wallpapers, etc.) or offer digital files with your designs if you don’t want to handle physical goods. If you decide to go with this option, you will need to invest some money first. The production for starters. You will need to manufacture a number of items to offer for sales without knowing whether there will be demand for them or not. Secondly, you need a place to store them and each time an order is placed, it will be your job (unless you hire an employee) to pack it and post it to the buyer. Another thing is that you will need to showcase your products online and for that, you need photos and in order to sell they have to be good ones! This means hiring a photographer or investing in photography equipment and software as well as learning how to do it yourself.

  • Selling on marketplaces

Who doesn’t know Etsy? You can use it or any similar creative marketplace to sell your products both digital and physical. The marketplace provides you with an infrastructure for online selling for which you have to pay a commission for every sale. Also, you have to take into account that without promotion, your products’ visibility and the chance of it being purchased is small. You will need to invest in promotion either within the marketplace (boosting visibility in the search engine, internal ads) or outside of it (Google, social media, etc.)

  • Selling on your own website

First of all, you need a website, one with an online store. Unless you know how to do that, you will need to hire someone who does. You can also use a SaaS option like Shopify but this means monthly fees whether you have any sales or not and often also a percentage from every sale. Again, without advertising, you don’t stand much chance of selling anything. So you should get familiar with SEO, AdWords, Facebook ads, remarketing, etc.

How Modsly can help you monetize your artwork

Modsly is both a microstock and a Print on Demand platform, which means that it gives the artists more than one way of benefiting from their artwork. First of all, you can create an Artist’s account and upload your surface pattern designs and illustrations so that all other users can use them in their projects. In this case, you earn your commission each time somebody sells an item featuring your work. Secondly, you can also create your own fashion products (dresses, tunic, blouses, trousers, etc.) using your designs and offer them in your online store, which you can create within our platform for free. In this case, you have to promote and sell the products, while we take care of order fulfillment. Every time you manage to sell something, you earn a commission, which is obviously higher than in the first case. What’s great about Modsly is that you can use both of the above options at the same time and have two parallel streams of potential revenue.