The Pandemic Inspires Jess Murphy to Design Wallpaper for The Lawns

09.14.21 | By
The Pandemic Inspires Jess Murphy to Design Wallpaper for The Lawns

At the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, Brooklyn-based artist and founder of The Lawns design collective Jess Murphy set out to turn her artwork into wallpaper while she passed the time. Taking inspiration from a celebratory scene of dancing people in the film The Two Popes, Jess began by working with pre-pandemic live figure drawings. As the sketches developed, she thought more about the meaning behind them where despite “the absence of people, a presence of community remains.” The ‘Figures‘ wallpaper pattern was born and is one of The Lawns Collection’s six unique patterns inspired by quarantine movie benders, previous travels, rainy mornings and internet wormholes. BONUS: The Lawns donates a portion of each sale to Coalition for the Homeless and Sky High Farm. Now, for this month’s Deconstruction, we get a peek at how Jess designed the Figures wallpaper pattern!

Person sitting on wood cube with sketches on wall behind them

Jess Murphy

artist's hands sketching on paper

Jess begins the design process by hand-drawing small sketches using charcoal or pencil. She then uses soft pastels or additional charcoal to add tonality and experiment with color.

black and white figure sketches askew on table

Continuing to sketch out the design for Figures, Jess begins to finalize some of the intricacies and works on layout ideation.

artist practicing drawing and painting techniques

Jess samples different mediums and effects to decide which will create the desired look.

artist squatting down and sketching abstract pattern on wall

Jess translates the motifs to scale and modifies the layout using simple line drawings on pieces of paper taped to the wall of her studio, perfecting the movement among the shapes.

artist sketching on paper taped to a wall

Continuing the perfecting process, Jess refines the pattern while using line drawings.

artist preparing layout of drawing over tracing paper

Tracing paper allows for freedom of experimentation and can act to mimic screens in production, so you can see how your artwork will separate for printing or recoloring.

artist inspecting abstract drawing through trace paper

Jess uses tracing paper to create overlapping layers of texture and to begin layout orientation.

artist on floor scanning large drawing onto computer in studio

Jess digitizes each of the hand-drawn patterns.

digitized scan of abstract drawing on computer screen

The pattern is then adjusted on the computer, perfecting the repeat before beginning coloration.

artist's hands holding paint chips over abstract drawings

Paint chips, Pantones, or swatches are referenced to design a palette, and colorways are created digitally. Final files in all colorways are sent to the printer, and a strike off is returned for review.

artist reviewing first sample of abstract wallpaper

Checking printing quality and color for approval. Making sure everything is to spec and noting any adjustments needed for the printer.

artist reviewing wallpaper colorways on the wall

Jess makes sure to review the product on the wall, and assess color in different lighting situations.

wallpaper samples being designed on the computer

Once strike offs are approved, memos, which are small samples of the wallpaper in all colorways, are created so customers can find all the product information like repeat size, substrate, lead times and minimums. The memo backers are printed on the back of the samples for easy reference.

artist viewing wallpaper samples from a drawer

Before full orders are placed, it’s recommended to order a memo to view the design in person.

three finished samples of wallpaper rolls

wallpaper sample of pink abstract wallpaper hanging on wall

Figures Wallpaper | Blush

room with pale gray abstract wallpaper with dog sitting on chair

Figures Wallpaper | Nimbus

pale nude abstract wallpaper

Figures Wallpaper | Nude

strip of wallpaper hanging on wall loosely

Photos courtesy of The Lawns.

Caroline Williamson is Editor-in-Chief of Design Milk. She has a BFA in photography from SCAD and can usually be found searching for vintage wares, doing New York Times crossword puzzles in pen, or reworking playlists on Spotify.