From 9-5 to Freelance Master: Interview with Bold Surface Pattern Designer Elizabeth Silver

Illustration of Freelance Surface Pattern Designer Elizabeth Silver

Freelance surface pattern designer Elizabeth Silver has a gift for making things more appealing.  Through her great artistic skill-set and magnificent color palettes, Elizabeth turns the blandest of products into lively works of art. Elizabeth spent 9 years as an in-house designer for home textiles in New York City before going solo. When the time came to realize her dream in Raleigh, North Carolina, Elizabeth made an admirably bold move a lot of us freelancers make as she left the world of full-time employment and began her freelance practice.  While the transition was not always smooth, over the past 7 years Elizabeth has really found her place as a freelancer.

Since becoming a freelancer, Elizabeth has picked up work from a number of notable companies including Amscan, Evite, and GapKids.  Below, Elizabeth shares insight into the world of freelancing and her path of success.

Let’s make sure you pat your own back… What’s your biggest strength as a solopreneur surface pattern designer?

I’m a left-brained creative. My ability to think logically and stay organized is crazy important as I try to juggle all. the. things. that go into building my business. The balance between my creativity and my analytical side is great for my clients as well. While working to put together a beautiful design, I’m also thinking about the manufacturing constraints of the end product and any other factors that are important to the final deliverable. 

What’s the best business or money advice you ever got as a freelancer?

The ethos behind ‘know your worth, then add tax’ resonates with me. I definitely got work in the early days through freelancer websites. It’s so easy to undervalue your work in those settings. Learning to turn down work (even when I *need* it) has been so important for my stress level and confidence. 

Now for a moment of realness, what are you struggling with right now in your business?

Exponential growth! I keep hoping that as I build momentum and work with more clients that opportunities will start doubling and tripling. I’ve just hit the 7-year mark of being my own boss and I’m proud of where I am. But it was a sloooow climb to get here and I still can’t see the top of the mountain. 

As a freelance surface pattern designer in Raleigh, what challenges and advantages do you think are unique to your city?

I guess you could say I have Raleigh to thank for my current career. I was a full-time textile designer living in New York City before. It wasn’t until I wanted to move out and found a warmer spot where I could have a backyard that I plunged headfirst into the freelance life. Raleigh has great opportunities for graphic and web designers, but it seems the surface pattern industry is non-existent. And I really wasn’t interested in shifting my design focus. 

We know the freelancer life is all about the hustle toward incredible goals. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Financially, personally, and with your businesses?

I’m working towards bigger projects with bigger clients. For example, licensing deals that span a full line of products, and an amazing audience who loves my digital tools and courses. If I can swing that while working about 35 hours a week, I’ll be killing it 2024.

Find Elizabeth’s incredible work on and on Instagram!

Elizabeth Silver Freelancer Surface Pattern Designer

Feeling inspired by Elizabeth’s journey to solopreunership?
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