This week, on the same day, I had not one but two friends tell me about designer Sonia Harris' "swearing patterns." Of course, I instantly became a fan. Her hidden-in-plain-sight patterns are subversive yet perfectly understated.
For example, this t-shirt's design appears to be a fancy mandala at first glance. But look closer and you'll see the words "Insufferable Wanker" cleverly incorporated into the pattern. (Ms. Harris, you get me.)
Despite my desire to create and soothe myself with art, I was also very angry at the bad luck of having spent decades dealing with pain from endometriosis only to get breast cancer just as I thought there was an end to it. The disgusting effects of the treatment, the frightening and painful experiences kept on coming… Hence my patterns contained a lot of profanity. I wanted to swear and I needed to swear. If I could have, I'd have been shouting those profanities from the rooftops! But I had no strength to raise my voice or even stomp around, so that left my drawings. I could write down an exclamation of disgust, carefully and lovingly so that seeing it gave me strength, reminded me that I have a voice and I am still alive. Seeing the repetition of my words and patterns calmed me, the inherent beauty of them made me feel in harmony with life again and able to rest.
Her Etsy shop secretbean stocks all kinds of merch with these "swearing patterns" — bags, scarves, prints, mugs, throw pillows, clothing, and more (even swimsuits!). You can also find her on Spoonflower where you can buy wallpaper, fabric, and wrapping paper with her patterns. On Roostery, you can get "swearing pattern" tablecloths, curtains, table runners, and the like. And, on Paom, you can get premium clothing with "all over prints."
Finally, go follow her on Instagram!
Thanks, Marcia and Kristen!