Northern Soul and People’s Powerhouse are continuing our partnership to share good news stories about businesses, people and communities coming together in the North of England during the COVID-19 crisis.

This week, we chat to Gail Myerscough, a surface pattern designer and illustrator based in Manchester whose designs are influenced by the mid-century era, architecture and music. 

Northern Soul: Can you tell us a little bit about surface pattern design? 

Gail Myerscough: Surface pattern design is any type of artwork, mainly repeating patterns, intended to be applied to a surface to enhance its visual appearance and/or functionality. I create patterns, repeats and illustrations that give energy, character, and movement to surfaces. They are applied to pretty much everything you see in your daily life, which is why it is such an important genre of art.

NS: What was the original response to the business? 

GM: I launched my studio in 2015 but, as I still worked full-time as a retail manager for an arts venue, it was very much a part-time venture. I’ve been slowly building my business in my spare time for the last five years. I have my own unique style inspired by mid-century design, architecture and music and have had an enthusiastic response to my work. As I sell online, I have continued to make sales throughout the COVID-19 crisis.

NS: What challenges have you faced during the COVID-19 pandemic?

GM: In March, the theatre where I worked as a retail manager closed for the foreseeable future due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Sadly, I have since been made redundant from my full-time job, but this has given me the opportunity to work full-time on my design business. Redundancy is a stressful process, but I’m lucky that I had a Plan B with my design work.

Dark roomNS: How have you/the business been affected by the crisis?

GM: My business has gone from strength to strength during the COVID-19 pandemic. It has given me time to concentrate fully on designing new ranges and marketing my business. I sell a range of products featuring my designs in my online shop

The lockdown has meant that people have had to spend far more time in their homes and their attention has turned to improving their living spaces. As I sell a range of homewares and more people are choosing to shop online, my sales have been rising steadily.

NS: And how have you seen customers come together?

GM: My customers have been incredibly supportive during the crisis. When lockdown started, I had to reduce my product lines temporarily as I couldn’t make regular trips to the Post Office to dispatch orders, but my customers were understanding and patient. My regular customers have sent kind messages and shared my designs on their social media channels to help boost my profile during the pandemic.

NS: Have you been surprised by the reaction to your business?

GM: Definitely. I decided to produce a range of face masks using my designs and sales have exceeded my expectations. Many people who were unaware of my brand have subsequently discovered my work. There has been a lot of support and positivity for small creative businesses.

Bauhaus CollectionNS: What does the loosening of lockdown restrictions mean to you and how will you approach these new challenges?

GM: As my business operates mostly online and I work from my home studio I don’t think the loosening of restrictions will affect my business adversely.

NS: What’s the most positive moment/thing you’ve experienced during the crisis?

GM: The kindness of people. My customers who have supported me greatly. The positive reactions to my work even in times of crisis. My work is bold and colourful, and I hope it has brought some joy to people in dark times.

NS: What does the ‘new normal’ mean to you? 

GM: The ‘new normal’ means huge changes for me as I am now a full-time designer working from my home studio. I’m excited about my new career and building a successful business.

The People's PowerhouseFor more information about Gail Myerscough’s surface pattern design work, please click here