How to Sell Designs for Textile Manufacturing

Colorful fabric
••• Hemera Technologies/ Images

Imagine your artwork on fashions and home furnishings -- not only in America, but around the world. The textile industry, while still a mainstay of U.S. manufacturing, has expanded into a highly competitive, global enterprise. This presents abundant opportunities and challenges for you, as a textile designer, to sell your art wares in the world market. To reach prospective buyers at home and overseas, you'll need an impressive portfolio, a diverse marketing strategy, patience and persistence.

Making a Portfolio

Assemble a catalog, or portfolio, of your designs. Use photocopies, not original art, and separate the artwork into categories by design themes. Identify and label each design with a product number or design name. Show each design as a single repeat and “stepped out,” or repeated, into an overall pattern.

Register your art with the United States Copyright Office. You’ll save on fees by electronically registering your designs collectively. Label each design with your copyright and the year of creation to let buyers know that you are serious about protecting your work against plagiarism.

Prepare your portfolio in various media. Create a printed sample book as well as a digital portfolio and a slide show. Always keep several copies of your sample book on hand to send to potential buyers. Develop your own Web site as an online showroom.

Marketing and Selling

Develop a brand identity for your product line. Create business cards, a professional resume and biography.

Study competitive designers and pay attention to market trends. Identify your strengths and create a sales pitch, sometimes referred to as a "30-second commercial," that you can use when introducing yourself to potential buyers.

Use social networking sites to make connections and promote your work. Join professional trade associations for artists and graphic designers.

Explore different venues for showing and selling your work, such as industry trade shows and publications. Consider hiring an agent to represent, or "rep," your designs.

Research domestic and international textile manufacturing companies. Visit their Web sites and contact them by e-mail or telephone to request their art submission guidelines. Follow each company’s submission guidelines explicitly.


  • Expand your market to include other industries that could be interested in surface patterns such as wall coverings, gift wrap, partyware and stationery.

    Find your own niche in a competitive market by developing your own, unique art style, character or theme.


  • The United States Patent and Trade Office states that, if you sell your art to an overseas buyer, you cannot protect it with an international copyright. However, countries that belong to the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works and/or the Universal Copyright Convention generally adhere to “minimum” copyright protection. You can obtain a list of countries that have copyright relations with the U.S. from the Copyright Office.

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