ALUMNI

Texprint connects industry to selected graduate designers just emerging from college or university - also to Texprint alumni, many of whom now enjoy high profile creative roles within the international textile, fashion and interior design industries. Their success in industry, and in many cases, the success of their own studios and brands, are testimony to the Texprint programme.  Many continue to support Texprint in a variety of ways.

If you are a Texprint alumnus, tell us what you're doing now, we would love to hear from you - info@texprint.org.uk

Features

Alumna’s Story: Dominique Caplan, Gainsborough Silk Weaving

14 November 2014

Two years ago, weave designer Dominique Caplan was fresh out of London’s Central Saint Martins and itching to apply what she’d just learnt. Just one thing stood in her way: she hadn’t a clue how to navigate the fashion or interiors industries.

Working at Gainsborough Silk Weaving

Dominique soon realised the fierce competition that lay ahead of her. “I saw how many other designers were also graduating – all wanting to move into an industry which is relatively small,” she says.

Fortunately she had been nominated for the 2012 Texprint programme by her CSM tutor and granted an interview. Dominique says she went into the interview with Texprint creative director Peter Ring-Lefevre and a panel of industry experts with ‘clammy palms’, but she was successful and subsequently invited to undertake Texprint’s unique mentorship and exhibition programme with 23 other emerging talents.

But it certainly wasn’t all roses for Dominique after her selection. Internships with high-profile designers including Mary Katrantzou and Holly Fulton followed, but making her way in the industry was a struggle, not least because she was not earning money.

Perseverance paid off however, and last summer Dominique landed a job at Gainsborough Silk Weaving, one of the oldest commercial mills in England – a dream design role that has enabled her to rediscover her creative edge, with a constant flow of interesting and challenging work that mixes computerized techniques with traditional weaving methods.

We caught up with Dominique to talk about her Texprint experience, her new role and recent projects, and the growing artisanal approach in textile design.

Working at Gainsborough Silk Weaving

What was it like showing at Indigo in Paris with Texprint?

Texprint gave me something to work towards. Exhibiting at Indigo in Paris was a high point, though both exhausting and rewarding, and the realisation that now I actually had to make money from the work I had created as a student was quite challenging. 

For every person who stops and looks through your work, a hundred others will dismiss your stand with a flick of their eyes.  Very quickly you realize this is not personal - your work is not going to cater to everyone’s tastes or requirements. I believe this is one of the most important things I learnt from Texprint.

Also of key benefit were the many useful connections I made which helped me greatly in the following months. 

Working at Gainsborough Silk Weaving

Tell us about your current job as a designer at Gainsborough Silk Weaving?

We work with a lot of high-end interior and fashion designers and it is always very interesting, challenging work. Most of what I do is computerized, using the modern jacquard looms we have at the mill, but there is much scope to be technically creative and try new approaches.

Gainsborough also still has 15 Hattersley looms from the 1930s, making the mill truly unique. We have many of the original punch card sets and having access to the traditional method of jacquard weaving is very special. 

There is also an extensive archive of amazing fabric samples dating back to the establishment of the mill in 1903.  Among my personal favorites are the Crewell loom silks and the hand cut velvets.  There is a real connection between past and present and I feel very lucky to contribute to Gainsborough’s rich history and future.  

Textile installation inside the Oxford Brooks University 

You were involved in designing an impressive, large-scale textile installation inside the Oxford Brooks University – a 3x10 metre installation that is a mirage of intricate textures, patterns and gradients. What was the experience like?

The installation was designed by Peagreen and woven by Gainsborough Silk Weaving. As the designer on this project I was responsible for liaising with Peagreen whilst altering their original design in order to make it weavable.  At Gainsborough, the looms repeat two times across the entire fabric width, so we were weaving two artwork panels for the instillation at a time.  However because Peagreen wanted each panel to be very different, I had to work out ways to create the colours they wanted, using the same wefts and weave structures, whilst only changing the warp colour. I had four warp colours in total and eight weft colours to play with. It was an all-consuming project! 

How do you see the UK textile industry evolving? It seems there are two big trends – use of digital and a return to craft.

Trends are moving in an exciting direction with new approaches and methods of creating textiles emerging. From my own experience, I believe there has been more of a shift towards the artisanal approach as customers become better informed. There is also a premium placed on British made, which I feel is largely substantiated by the quality of the fabrics and skills involved. Craftsmanship is part of our heritage and I sincerely hope that the British textile industry continues to gain respect and overseas business. 

Gainsborough Silk Weaving archives

Article tags: weave (24), alumni (44), general (60)

Pepe Lowe and Hannah Hope Johnson, alumnae 2013

After Texprint: how designers continue to prosper

13 October 2014

New textile designers selected by Texprint take their first steps in the professional world by exhibiting at Indigo in Paris. Later, many of them choose to continue the relationship with the industry's leading creative textiles show.

Besides the 24 designers who are chosen by Texprint every year to show at Indigo (part of Première Vision Pluriel) in September, there are plenty of other former Texprint designers along the aisles – now operating independently and thriving in their own right.

This year, we tracked down two alumnae, Hannah Hope Johnson and Pepe Lowe, who were with Texprint as recently as 2013. Now they're sharing a stand together – a sensible cost-saving decision, also helped by support from UKFT – and are enjoying working in the 'real' world.

Pepe Lowe (left) and Hannah Hope Johnson (right)

Hannah Hope Johnson, who studied at Leeds School of Art, can't stop talking about her experience since she was with Texprint – and her enthusiasm is infectious. "After Indigo I was approached by a couple of London-based studios. I had interviews at both and was offered design positions at both. In the end, I decided not to take up either offer, it was a gamble, but a decision I am now pleased with. I saw that working in a studio didn't give me the creative freedom I was looking for."

The designer shows us her new work, focusing on dark romantic florals. "The geometrics inspired by Art Deco were part of my graduation collection, but during the Texprint exhibition in London I found a lot of people looking through my other work and admiring my florals. So I showed light summer florals at Indigo in February. And now I'm developing them in a darker direction."

Hope Johnson is now living in Paris with her French boyfriend and working with the founder of a new accessories label launching in 2015. "She's offered me a fantastic contract where I work three or four days a week for her and on my days off I dedicate my time to painting and creating my own collection of prints."

Separately, Pepe Lowe has launched a digital print silk womenswear line under her own name. She likes to play with free-flowing colours, textures and patterns together with a rigid grid or controlled line. "I translate these ideas into fabric either through digital or hand stitch, together with digital prints from either my photographs or drawings."

She recalls: "Texprint was exactly what I needed after finishing at Chelsea College of Arts. That extra push after the final show was perfect – it set me up for the past year. Doing the Texprint shows in London and Paris really helped me form some of my first connections with companies I would not have had a chance to meet."

The fond memories are shared by designers who were with Texprint much earlier. Lisa Jukes was a Texprint designer back in 1998 and now shows at Indigo with designer Emily Sedgwick as Code Studio. "I don't think we could have done it without Texprint. It was such an eye opener into the industry, such an invaluable support. Some of those early contacts are still clients today."

Lisa Jukes of Code Studio

Jukes, who is a print specialist, found Texprint to be the perfect springboard. "It was actually more beneficial than my degree show because it placed us in the commercial arena. The whole experience was tremendous."

Many Texprint designers are now working in major jobs at some of the biggest exhibitors at Première Vision. For example, Italian giant Miroglio Textiles has an Irish senior print designer, Louise Somers, who took part in Texprint herself six years ago. And Miroglio now sponsors an Award with Texprint – to the delight of Somers, who landed her first job when she showed with Texprint back in 2008. The wheel has truly come full circle.

Article tags: print (31), general (60), business (54), texprint 2013 (23), indigo (15)

Andrew Boyd's studio; a new project underway 2014

From Texprint to Ratti and Louis Vuitton: Andrew Boyd’s story

26 August 2014

This is the story of how a 35-year-old graphic designer from Hartlepool decided to rethink his life – and how Texprint helped him make it happen.

Andrew Boyd was in his mid-thirties when he came to the conclusion that his career had worked out the wrong way. He was working as a graphic designer for a company in London and earning a reasonable salary. The problem was that he received no creative satisfaction from what he did.

Over time and after considerable reflection, he decided on a radical and courageous solution – to return to basics, to rekindle the interests and skills of his childhood, to get back to when he was the boy at the back of the maths class ignoring what the teacher was saying and just drawing, always drawing.

So he told his employer and friends that he was moving back to his home town of Hartlepool to do precisely what he wanted to do. From now on, there would be no compromises. His friends admired his courage, although some told him he was crazy.

Home again in the north of England, Boyd enrolled at the Cleveland College of Art & Design in Middlesborough to study for a BA in Textiles & Surface Pattern, mowing lawns in his spare time to pay his way. As he approached graduation, he had no thought in mind other than to set up his own studio in Hartlepool and work through his creative ideas in his own time.

But then – and much to his surprise and with the support of his tutor at Cleveland – he was selected to be one of the 24 designers for Texprint, showing initially in London at the annual Texprint event and then moving on to Paris for Premiere Vision, where all 24 designers exhibit at the Indigo show-within-a-show.

Andrew Boyd's world was about to turn upside down. "Everything changed for me. The quality level at Texprint was just incredible. When I went to Paris with Texprint, I sold something like 12 pieces. In fact, I had already taken a first order in London from Jaeger for £200. I couldn't believe it – I almost gave another one away! Money was not the driver for me. It was the excitement of being appreciated at this level. In fact, the level of all the Texprint work was really impressing people in Paris. Visitors were saying our work was far superior to the commercial work here.

"And then I was approached by Luigi Turconi of Texprint sponsor Ratti on the stand in Paris. He asked me directly, do you want to work in Italy? I said I would love to, once I had been to Hong Kong with Texprint. A few weeks later, I was in Italy."

Established by Antonio Ratti in 1945, the Ratti Group is one of the leading manufacturers in the international luxury textiles industry. After nearly 70 years in the business, Ratti has developed a business that covers the entire finishing cycle of silk and other natural fibres, working with many of the world's leading design houses. For a designer, working at Ratti is about as good as it gets.

Angela Caccia, head of Human Resources at Ratti, says the company appreciated his skill sets immediately: "He was really good creatively. He worked in the design studio and the freeness of his designs was very well received. He had the capacity to express his creativity."

Within months, Andrew Boyd's work for Ratti had caught the eye of leading American fashion designer Marc Jacobs, then responsible for the Louis Vuitton womenswear collection. Before Boyd had barely adjusted to life in Italy, he was working on print development for Louis Vuitton, his designs appearing in the Louis Vuitton A/W 2011 collection.

Louis Vuitton A/W 2011 collection

Boyd had proved that individual creativity, given talent and determination and the right support, can find a market – even in the fiercely competitive modern marketplace.

Louis Vuitton A/W 2011 collection

Since then, he's become even more determined to pursue his own route. The relationship with Ratti has continued but Boyd has now returned to Hartlepool, not least so he can work as a freelance at his own pace and with complete creative freedom. "It was full on at Ratti. When I came back from Italy, I was empty."

He says: "I now have my little studio where I potter away doing little sketches at my own pace. I don't like commitment or barriers. I want creative freedom, which I can only get in Hartlepool."

Andrew says of the starting point of a recent project: “All of the prints are taken from a peg board from a local diy shop...I used a roller to cover them in emulsion paint and used a very light weight tissue paper as I wanted the prints to crease. I am curious to know how the creases will react with on another, hopefully they will start to come to life when I get my screens back and start printing onto fabric using a variety of resist techniques.”

He remains hugely grateful to both Texprint and Ratti (we spoke to him at Texprint 2014, with the team from Ratti also with us). "Texprint gave me the platform to introduce me to people. I've seen my work on beautiful, expensive fabrics. That's a great incentive. My continual challenge to myself is to see if I can reinvent a fashion classic. Spots, stripes, checks. I like that challenge. The classics reinvented, making them fresh, making them new."

Boyd's route to creative happiness isn't for everyone, but he is unrepentant. His message to new generations of Texprint designers is simple and uncompromising: "Stick to your thinking. Be confident. Believe in what you do. That's the way you get picked by Texprint in the first place. That's why you're here. Don't budge."

Article tags: alumni (44), fashion (35), general (60)

Team Specialized-Lululemon cycle kit designed by Florence Angelica Colson

Internship Diary: Florence Angelica Colson at Lululemon Athletica

10 May 2014

Selected in 2013 by Deanne Schweitzer, SVP of Design and Creation at yoga-inspired brand Lululemon Athletica, as one of two winners of the prestigious Lululemon Texprint Award, we catch up with print designer Florence Angelica Colson and follow her internship diary (weaver Cherica Haye was the joint winner of this award).

Unfortunately due to new visa rules Flo and Cherica were unable to work in Vancouver for the 3 months originally planned.  Instead Lululemon took the creative initiative and invited the designers to Vancouver for non-working trips to find out more about the company ethos and working practices, took them to New York and Paris on inspiration trips, then set them projects to work on back in England.

Florence with Deanne Schweitzer (second left) and Lululemon design team at Indigo 2013

 

New York – 12 January 2014

The internship started with me being told on a Monday that I would be leaving for New York on the Saturday - this was crazy and so exciting! In New York I met up with Cassandra Sze (vision line lead) and Spencer Wyatt (colour designer); we shopped the city looking for new styling and colour inspiration, including visiting Soho and the new Dover Street Market store.

Joined a design meeting hosted by Cass and Spencer in the new Brooklyn store - feedback from the product users is invaluable so Lulu regularly hosts these in-store sessions.  The company also feels it’s important to ‘sweat in the community’, to experience what’s going on in terms of sports and fitness, so while in NY we took part in a few yoga and spinning classes!

While I was in New York, Cherica met up with the Lulu team in Paris to work Premiere Vision and Indigo, sourcing new fabrics and prints.

 

Vancouver (home of Lululemon headquarters) – 18 January 2014

On to Vancouver to join a Lululemon induction week with around 25 other newbies enrolling in jobs across the company.  A great opportunity to learn more about the company, what they believe in and what they still want to achieve - having and achieving goals is monumental within Lulu!

Also to be briefed by the Vision Pod team (each section of product development at Lulu is called a ‘pod’) who research the visionary colours, graphics and styling before giving them to the various design pods to be actioned.

“I was asked to be as creative as I wanted and not to worry about restrictions or the typical Lulu way of designing, but do what I liked and what I would wear. This was a great chance to experiment so I didn’t always stick to my usual design handwriting.

Worked on updating the Lululemon Manifesto – the emotive quotes, facts and opinions put together by the founder of Lululemon – phrases such as: do one thing a day that scares you, breathe deeply, creativity is maximized when you are living in the moment, friends are more important than money!I created little illustrations, pattern-filled lettering, big painterly lettering and a number of other ideas - all quite challenging as so graphics based, but it was cool and fun too!

Then was asked to create prints suitable for ‘tights’ – meaning running, yoga or other fitness leggings. I enjoyed this the most as of course print and pattern are my design passions! Although not all of the designs were my classic style, I stayed true to my design process and spent a lot of time generating work by hand, either drawing, painting or mark-making, and then manipulating and developing using Photoshop.

The final part of the brief was to look at new ways of adding reflective elements to product pieces. I found this really interesting and something I had never considered before.  I am now obsessed - I run a lot and want to be covered in cool reflective pieces!

Inspiration board for reflective ideas

 

 

London – 1 February 2014

Back in London we met with Deanne Schweitzer and shopped all the great London haunts for the spring/summer 2015 inspiration report we were due to present to the Lulu team back in Vancouver.

“I find inspiration in everything. I love fashion - I’m pretty obsessed by it if I am honest! I spend hours trawling through fashion magazines and looking at blogs, Instagram and Pinterest - following designers, models, artists, architects, galleries, magazines, shops, as well as friends - so I really get a broad view of what’s going on and what’s inspiring others! At the moment I’m loving spacial design and room set-ups, and I’m head over heels for Celine. I’ve just booked to go to the Matisse: The Cut-Outs exhibition at the Tate Modern and I’m so excited as I think it will be really influential!”

 

London – 1 April 2014

Lululemon’s first UK store (Covent garden) opened in April, and for a week Cherica and I worked in the store for three hours a day as shadowing educators (everyone at Lulu has to work a number of store shifts whether you are a designer, IT technician or anything else!). We were also invited to the opening party. Lululemon'snew CEO, Laurent Potdevin, was there, plus the London ambassadors, Vancouver team, store staff, press and VIPs – it was amazing to be involved.

“My project was completed working from home (at my mother’s kitchen table which she kindly allowed me to take over for the duration!). I always start by drawing, painting or mark-making by hand, taking this as far as I can before scanning and manipulating.

To keep in touch with Vancouver, I would exchange emails with Cass a few times a week plus have a weekly Skype update conversation.”

 

 

Vancouver – 5 April 2014

The final week in Vancouver presenting our projects and a trend report of our London finds (plus doing some yoga and circuit classes of course!) – and thinking about what we’d learnt and achieved.

“I know I would have learnt so much more if I’d been able to work with the team every day, but even so the experience was amazing, and by taking me out of my comfort zone helped develop my design knowledge. Designing for the sports market is more complex than I realised - everything has to be technical, and functional, and appealing to the eye.

Prior to the internship I worked on a freelance project, designing the 2014 Specialized-LululemonWomen’s Professional Cycling Team kit using intricately drawn details, baroque and rococo shapes, pearls, jewels and florals in black and white. This was quick turnaround project, and challenging, as the prints all had to be engineered to fit the garment pieces. I’ve never had to think about a product in so much detail before – it was a great exercise in balancing hand craft and time management!”

Flo wearing the Team Specialized-Lululemon cycle kit she designed!

 

Future thoughts?“My dream is to collaborate with a fashion designer, even to learn to cut patterns myself so I can start my own fashion company where beautiful prints and garments would combine!

In conclusion, Flo says: “Texprint has been invaluable, I could not be more grateful. Through Texprint I exhibited and sold under my own name at Indigo; had my designs promoted by Surface View; interned in Italy; took part in the ComON creativity week, and was selected to visit the Mare di Moda show in Cannes – all experiences I would never have experienced so soon out of university without Texprint’s guidance and financial support. People still email me after viewing my online Texprint profile.

Winning one of the places on the Lululemon Texprint Award was amazing, it enabled me to travel to Canada and New York and learn so much more about the industry.  Plus I have learnt so much from the Lululemon team, building up wonderful relationships both in and out of the internship that I really hope will continue!”

Article tags: print (31), general (60), champions of texprint (45), sponsors (30), texprint 2013 (23), judges 2013 (13)

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