My 2017 in design

As I enter the first few weeks of 2018, I’m taking it slowly for a change and not rushing into making grand plans or New Year’s resolutions.

I find it’s so easy to think negatively about the previous year, to think I could have done more, I should have done more but I started to design a desk calendar over the Christmas holidays and I realised how much personal work I’d actually produced. So, I decided before I started to think about goals for 2018, I wanted to briefly look back at what I’d achieved in 2017. Some of this work is from freelancing, some of it’s personal pattern work (I started playing around with patterns in my spare time in 2016) and some of the work I’ve never posted before!


I started the year off with a secret project! In a previous year, I’d posted a photo every day for a year on Instagram and I wanted to do a similar project. I’m a big fan of Iris Apfel after watching her documentary so decided to produce a colour palette from a photo of her every day. The project slipped to every week day, to every week and slowly died as I found it quite time consuming and difficult to find high quality images of Iris.

Examples of #inspiredbyiris

I signed up to Make it in Design’s Winter School (only the beginner track) after taking part in their Summer School in 2016. The course ran for 4 weeks with 2 creative briefs. The first brief was “Technical Stripes” and I love a good concept so I wrote Technical Stripes in Binary and added a splash of Pantone’s colour of the year.

Technical stripes pattern and mockups
Other ideas for the technical stripes pattern

Professionally, I was thrilled to work with an existing client Deaf Alerter as they rebranded their business to the Alerter Group. The business started off selling the Deaf Alerter product but they created more products so it became confusing. They changed the colours to a vivid yellow and I rejigged the typography to make the design fresher.

A snapshot of the Alerter Group’s new homepage


I worked with more existing clients in February; I added a shopping cart to Clean Driveway allowing Martin to sell courses to train other people in how to clean drives. I also worked with Privacy International to theme new sections of the website they’d created (this work is no longer online as I worked with them again in November and December as they moved the site over to Drupal 8.)

I also launched my new branding; it’s been a long time coming (the logo was designed in 2013 or 2014) and I’ve made attempts to create a new website but realised I still wasn’t in the position to build a website so I made an animation and updated my Twitter profile instead.

New brand for Katherine Cory Design

My face also appeared in Net Magazine.

March 2017 issue 290 of Net Magazine

Personally, February was a fun month! I continued on with the Winter School and the second brief was “Earth Texture” so I popped to my local park and photographed trees and leaves and had some fun in Photoshop.

Earth texture pattern and mockups

I also began entering Spoonflower competitions and this is my Aquatics Animals entry.

Aquatic Animals entry for a Spoonflower competition


During March, I had two projects that ran into April/May and I also worked with the lovely Peter Bowyer and did some UX work for one of his projects. March was my busiest month for personal work; I entered my first Threadless competition under the theme of the 90s.

Party like it’s 1999 t-shirt concept

I entered two more Spoonflower competitions and created my favourite design of the year (the hexagons dress) which I intend to make as an actual dress this year now I’ve taken some dressmaking classes!

Hexagons entry for a Spoonflower competition
Tangrams entry for a Spoonflower competition

I dipped my toe into contests over at Printed Village as well!

Sweet Pete’s pattern and mockup

I also booked a screen printing workshop in Manchester with One69a and designed this bee character for the workshop, little did I know how important he’d become throughout the year! I also entered him into Blogtacular’s tote bag competition.

Screen printing results and bag mockup for Blogtacular


I met a sloth, which was probably the highlight of my entire life, let alone year.

I finished working with an existing client Olixol; Tim had kept me very busy and I had designed two sets of exhibition banners, a presentation animation and worked on the second phase of their website.

Exhibition mockup of my work by EBD
Homepage of Olixol

My bee obsession continued well into April and I got my University flatmate, Sarah from Skully Bunting to make sample acrylic brooches.

The sample designs of my bee brooch

I entered my last Spoonflower competition of the year and created these Daffodills for their Papercut florals contest.

Papercut florals entry for a Spoonflower competition

I had completely forgotten about these but I also entered an Ohh Deer competition to design a new greeting card.

Pun greeting cards

April seems to be my most successful month; my business hero even retweeted my work to his 1.3 million followers.

My client, The Wrap Show teamed up with Woven Wings to produce baby wraps with the pattern I designed for their brand.

Baby wraps with my pattern

I was also featured in Issue 10 of Make it in Design’s magazine, MOYO (page 140) for my Eden Project pattern bombing design I did in 2016.

Page 140 of Issue 10 of MOYO

Unfortunately, my health took a turn for the worse during April (I have Chronic Fatigure Syndrome/ME) and my energy for personal projects decreased.


May was the month I started contracting for an agency in Manchester. I worked full time throughout May and June and worked part time up until late Autumn. It was a great change of pace and was the first time I was hired as a designer rather than front-end developer. I worked across 14 different projects; I led the design for some projects, creating full page mockups and style guides and I designed components to fit within an already established design for other projects. I worked with project managers, lead developers, UX designers, QA testers, front-end developers and even the clients themselves but unfortunately all my work is under NDA so my portfolio looks bare over these months!

May was also the month I could share some of my work from March and April, as the amazing Sally Lait launched her rebrand for Records Sound the Same. I wrote a blog article of the process behind this and so did Sally.

Example of Records Sound the Same brand


May saw the terrible attack in Manchester and 2 weeks after the attack I decided I wanted to raise some money for the We Love Manchester Emergency Fund. This was my first foray into making products; I created patches, stickers and button badges and launched I also wrote a blog article about the ups and downs of the whole experience!

My initial design of the bee patches


My bees were my main focus during July (apart from my agency work), I launched a Mercht campaign and had my first stall at Plan Bee.

The final products
The Mercht t-shirt, signs and stall

I also popped along to MadFabLab in Manchester and learnt how to user a laser cutter, as you do! This is definitely something I hope to pursue in 2018.

Laser cut necklaces I designed and made


August saw the return of Make it in Design’s summer school and I was ambitious and I signed up to two tracks, the beginner and intermediate meaning I had 4 briefs to complete in 4 weeks; Abstract Threads and Drawn Botanicals were the beginner briefs and Pure Zen and Stripe Form were the intermediate briefs.

Abstract threads based on sewing machine stitches from my sewing classes pattern and mockups
Pastel botanicals pattern and mockups
Pure zen pattern and mockups
Stripe from pattern and mockups

I was also interviewed by the wonderful Ashely Baxter, founder of my Insurance company, With Jack about running a business with a chronic illness.

I was speaking to an agency this week and they said people with health issues are always more reliable because they’re conscious of letting people down so they make sure that they don’t. Since my health has become a problem I plan my work better, because I know I’ve only got a small window of time to do the work in.

Creative Boom kindly wrote an article about my bees as well.

Manchester shone brightly during one of its darkest hours this year. Following the attack at the Manchester Arena in May, the city came together to support victims and their families, and show the world that love will always triumph over hate. And the efforts continue today. Katherine Cory is a local designer who has launched We Stand Together, selling her own crafted patches, stickers and badges to raise money for those affected by the atrocity.


Another month spent contracting…


Finally some work I can talk about! I had the pleasure to work with Derbyshire Open Arts again. Every year we archive the previous website; Drupal has a neat feature to export it’s content to static HTML pages, we made tweaks throughout the website (mainly to the application form) and reopen the site allowing artists to apply for the 2018 event.

I also sent my 200th invoice as a limited company!


November saw the start of two branding projects, one of which was launched during this month. Excitingly, it was my first international project and I worked with the lovely Emma from the Future of Work, who’s based in Australia. More of the process behind the logo can be seen on my Dribbble.

Future of Work logo

I also wrote a blog post for SuperYesMore and wrote about being productive with a chronic illness.

However, I was dangerously caught up in the lifestyle of the tech industry and didn’t think twice if I had to work an evening or had to miss a family occasion due of work. It almost felt like a badge of honour if I was working extra hours. The word “hustle” wasn’t a popular in 2013 then but I was a slave to my hustle.


The last month of the year was insanely busy; it saw the launch of Copper & Wild’s new branding and graphics for social media. Dee is a brilliant product photographer and wanted to start 2018 off with a new rebrand.

Copper & Wild logo

I finished the year by working with Privacy International again; internally they rebuilt their site in Drupal 8 and needed a new theme to match this. The restructure saw the content being tagged under multiple categories so we had to limit the colours used as pages no longer only sat under “Reports” for example. I paired the new limited colour palette with the typography styles from the previous design and created a cleaner, bolder, fresher design.

Privacy International homepage concept

December also excitingly saw the return of some personal work; I always like to try and design my own Christmas cards and opted for a subtle design this year.

Christmas pattern and mockups

I finally decided to make myself a desk calendar featuring 2017’s design work and it suddenly dawned on me how much personal work I’d actually done throughout the year. I’ve never been one for personal work, I’d much rather work from a brief but the more creative I am, the easier I find it to create. I’m certainly heading into 2018 buzzing with ideas.

2018 desk calendar mockup


Before creating the calendar I would have said my 2017 was about survival and the only thing I achieved in 2017 was getting through each day. However, this blog shows that I was actually quite creative and productive. I do feel I lost sight of the bigger picture, I could have easily designed the calendar in September and going into 2018 I have these goals:

  1. Remain focussed on the bigger picture and try and achieve something small towards my goals each day.
  2. Create a website for Katherine Cory (I know, I’ve been saying this for years but I really need to now.)
  3. Make more products, I’m going to start by making the cards and hopefully will create another calendar for 2019.
  4. Have at least one computer free day a week, even from personal work and have a week’s holiday with limited technology/wi-fi signal.

Work with me!

My portfolio is over at Dribbble where you can see more of my professional work. If you’d like to see what story I can create for your brand or web project and think I’d be a good fit for your business, please get in touch by emailing me at If you’d like to see more of my patterns, head over to Instagram!