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

Israel Parra-Zanabria at work in the Timorous Beasties studio in Scotland

One year on: Israel Parra-Zanabria is making waves in Mexico City

17 December 2013

One year on, we talk to Texprint 2012 alumnus Israel Parra who was born in Mexico, trained in Scotland, and is now making waves back in his hometown Mexico City.

Israel’s highly distinctive design work is inspired by diverse influences – from manmade objects to nature finds, from brutalist architecture to his recollection of flowers - always altering conventional notions of what will work for fashion or interiors.

Multilingual, passionate and a highly focused textile designer, he says: “My design practice is driven by the combination of traditional silkscreen techniques and digital printing processes to ensure innovation and uniqueness.”

Do you work from home or studio?  What inspires you?

I work from both at home and at a studio that I have started to build up very close to my home in Mexico City. I find inspiration in Mexico’s vibrant lifestyle as I cycle around the city with my camera and sketchbooks always on hand to document and record new inspirations.

I have been always drawn to nature and work both from life as well as from photographs to capture as much information as possible. Hence, my work is fused and digitally hand crafted to obtain best results.

What have been the key challenges?

Working on my own means everything is a challenge! From researching and exploring the creative process to developing a new collection, to then finding contacts, places to exhibit and sales points. Then of course organising and managing my accounts, social networks, making connections with national and international manufacturers etc etc.

However, as I lived in the UK and Europe for nearly 5 years, the most challenging thing has been returning to Mexico City. The entire metropolis has changed so dramatically that at the beginning I found myself immersed in a city I no longer recognized; but gradually I’ve been invited to participate in a broad range of opportunities and design platforms that are now blooming in Mexico City and feel settled here again.

What new projects have you been working on?

I have made contact with Mexican fashion companies such as Pineda Covalin http://www.pinedacovalin.com/_eng/ - whose design signature highlights Mexican culture and folklore, and received very good feedback on my latest project This City after being exhibiting at Cultura Colectiva (I’m now establishing sales points in Mexico City and possibly in San Diego, which is great).

Also I’ve worked with Richard Ward’s furniture design studio Wawa and Anne Tyrrell’s design consultancy, both based in London.

Again in Mexico I have exhibited at Zona MACO, one of Latin America’s most important platforms for Contemporary Art and Design, and have taken part Mexican Design competition Quorum 2013.

How important is your website and social media activity?

Digital media is critical as it helps me present my work to people around the world.  Via my website I have been contacted by studios and clients - I know that if I don’t post or give updates then I won’t receive feedback or contacts from future clients.

What are your plans for the future?

I am currently developing new skills, in particular, tailoring, as I want to learn more about using textiles on the human body, and I’m considering returning to the UK to take an MA degree in Fashion. With that in mind, I am starting to research for funding and scholarships as international tuition fees are so expensive!

In what ways was Texprint a help to you?

Texprint helped in so many different ways, helping me to see how I could develop my work, to evaluate myself and my ambitions, and, most importantly, to always challenge myself – and thanks to Texprint I exhibited at Indigo/Première Visionin Paris and made great contacts there which was invaluable.

Israel showing his work to buyers at Indigo, Paris, October 2012

What do you love most about what you're doing, and like least?

I am always amused by how an idea evolves and it is then transformed into a physical object - an idea transformed into a drawing, then into a design, then into fabric for a fashion or interiors collection, to finally be exhibited - to follow this entire process is very rewarding. I am sometimes disappointed with myself if I make mistakes or miss details, however after each project is finished I find those mistakes have been key learning points for self-development, so I always look forward!

Below: cushions from Israel's Audubon Collection developed for a private client in Mexico City. 

 

 

Article tags: print (29), alumni (42), texprint 2012 (27), fashion (33), business (46), illustration (9), indigo paris (10)

WGSN Global Fashion Awards, Emerging Fashion Brand: Emma J Shipley

07 November 2013

The WGSN Global Fashion Awards held 5th November saw Texprint alumna Emma J Shipley winning the prestigious Avery Dennison Emerging Fashion Brand Award.

Speaking from the awards venue, the V&A museum, London, Tim Voegele-Downing, Global Creative Director at Avery Dennison RBIS commented: “While we saw phenomenal entries from all finalists, Emma J Shipley ultimately stood out. She created not just an electrifying collection but also a powerful brand that helps differentiate her products".  The award includes a €12,000 prize from Avery Dennison to help elevate the brand.

Emma Shipley (centre), with Tim Voegele-Downing and Susie Lau / photo: Dave Benett

Since graduating from the Royal College of Art in 2011 Emma has won great respect, not only for her highly skilled and imaginative drawings transposed so beautifully onto silk, wool and cashmere scarves, but for her careful and creative brand development.

From the outset Emma has used social media to connect with fans and buyers - including guest editing the Browns London blog in May 2011 - and just a few months ago she launched her online shop.

Her business has also been built on smart thinking. Collaborations with Anthroplogie, Nicholas Kirkwood, Camira and Osborne & Little have opened new avenues and audiences for her extraordinary work. She has also exhibited at London Fashion Week.  Retailers for her scarves include Liberty, Fortnum & Mason, Harvey Nichols and independent retailer Wolf & Badger.

Emma Shipley with Anne Tyrrell MBE

Confindustria Como annually supports six Texprint designers to participate in a programme of internships with leading Italian mills in Como to see the Italian textile industry in action, and in October 2011 Emma worked her internship with Ratti SpA, one of the leading Como-based companies in the international luxury textiles industry. The bulk of her production is now printed in Italy and stems from this early relationship building and experience of the production process.

In May 2013 Emma was also awarded the RISE Newcomer Award at the UK Fashion & Textile Awards 2013, presented by HRH the Princess Royal at One Mayfair in London.

WGSN, Confindustria Como and Ratti are all valued sponsors of Texprint.

 

Article tags: print (29), alumni (42), general (45), business (46), accessories (15), collaboration (8)

Sophie Manners: One Year On, now based at Cockpit Arts

29 August 2013

Philippa Watkins, journalist, Texprint council member and recently retired RCA senior tutor specialising in weave, catches up with Texprint alumni weaver Sophie Manners.

It has been a busy year for Sophie - since showing with Texprint at Indigo September 2012 (where she was selected for the Woolmark Texprint Award), as well as showing with Texprint in Hong Kong and enjoying a two and half month internship in Italy working with Como silk weaver Taroni, she recently moved into her own studio space at Cockpit Arts Holborn in London.

Woolmark Texprint Award judges examine Sophie's work at Indigo 2013

This was for her an absolute joy. To have been selected for a studio place and bursary, which Cockpit Arts offer on their incubator programme to help talented designer-makers - just being there is a recognised benchmark of quality craftsmanship and designer excellence - has given her a huge confidence boost and a solid base from where she can further develop her own very distinctive design work.

Sophie's studio at cockpit Arts 

Moving in her computerised Harris loom, her hank winder and dyeing equipment, thanks to a grant from the Worshipful Company of Weavers, Sophie is now exploring again her distinctly structured woven designs, including the velvet techniques she developed as a student at the RCA.  Currently she is working on new ideas for HodgeSellers Design Consultancy, a leading textile design consultancywhich works on developing materials and ways of processing new ideas to bring a distinctive edge to fabrics for their international clients, among whom are some of Europe’s leading luxury brands.

As well as commissioned design work Sophie is producing her own woven products prompted by the opportunity offered by the Cockpit Arts Open Studios.  New and distinctive designs for scarves and cushions include tie dyed warps and a novel ‘marbled’ technique which she applies to the warp before weaving, thus producing a beautiful, uniquely coloured effect for scarves. sophiemanners.tumblr.com

But none of this might have happened if it hadn’t been for Texprint.  “Texprint opened up so many opportunities” she says, “it really was the best thing I could have done after graduating.  And I sold quite a few designs at Texprint in Indigo, which was so gratifying - just to know people appreciated my work.”

It was through Texprint and ComOn in Italy, which set up the opportunity for six Texprint designer internships in Italy, that she was selected to work with Taroni Spa, one the oldest silk mills (founded in 1880) in Como, in the production of superb quality silks, including jacquards and prints for fashion and furnishing.  The experience she says was invaluable - to observe at first hand how the industry works, as well as getting some of her own designs into work. And it has provided her with a sense of how to approach commissioned briefs for clients and how to market her work.

Cockpit Arts is an award winning social enterprise and the UK’s only creative-business incubator for designer-makers, whosemission it is to support and promote talented designer-makers from all backgrounds through all stages of their career.   Their incubator studios in Holborn, WC1, close to the Hatton Garden jewellery quarter, and in Deptford SE8, are the centre of an exciting community of artists and craftspeople, both established designer-makers and those who are just starting out. 

Article tags: weave (21), alumni (42), texprint 2012 (27), general (45), judges 2012 (13), indigo paris (10)

Flying high: Nancy Rose Taplin, Artist and Designer

12 August 2013

Artist and textile designer Nancy Taplin won the Interiors prize at Texprint in 2009. She was selected, and her prize presented by the artist Grayson Perry, an experience that Nancy describes as “one of the happiest of my life.” Our interview with Nancy illustrates how much the Texprint showcase contributes to launching creative careers and how the paths alumni follow are increasingly rich and diverse.

Creativity is in Nancy’s DNA; her father is the sculptor, Guy Taplin, and her mother is the ceramicist Robina Jack. An exciting showcase of the work of all three will be revealed through a family show at renowned gallery Messum’s, in London, which opens on 29th October 2013. Nancy will be showing a new collection of her startlingly beautiful and detailed bird paintings.

Nancy loves living and working in London - she shares a studio with eight other people, almost all of who are working in fashion and textiles. A typical day for her would include around six hours painting – but she told us, “The way in which I paint is detailed and intense and I can only really paint in short bursts, so I take lots of breaks and chat with people. When I first started painting, I was living in Essex and working on my own. I would dream about a space in a big, busy London studio; I feel so blessed now that it’s become a reality.”

How many new works are you creating for the forthcoming Taplin family show at Messum’s?

There will be ten new pieces. It’s really exciting to see the work come together - in some ways it feels a lot like planning and creating a fabric collection. Even though I’m working with unique, stand-alone pieces, I can’t help but think about how they’ll fit together as a group, and I’m really looking forward to seeing them in a gallery context.

How did this opportunity come about?

My family are all artists and it was suggested that we have a family show. I started painting by accident in 2010. I was working as a freelance textile designer at the time, primarily for Issa, having been approached by them at Texprint’s London show. I was quite reluctant to suddenly start producing fine art pieces because I couldn’t see myself working in that way, but thought I may as well give it a go. I’d intended to do a small series of prints, but my father saw the sketchbook I was drawing in – an old ledger onto which I’d painted a bird – and immediately saw that it worked as a piece in itself. I sold all the book paintings I did for that show, and after that it just took on a momentum of its own. I’ve since had a couple more group shows and a solo show and I still haven’t managed to hang on to a painting for myself!

It’s funny, because when I was at Indigo Paris with Texprint, I was approached by a man who bluntly told me my fabrics were beautiful but I’d never make any money as a textile designer because they were fine art, and although it did trouble me at the time, I often think how it was a strangely prescient comment.

After winning the 2009 Texprint Interiors Prize you went on to work as print and embellishment designer for Issa. How was this experience?

It was a massive learning curve.  I was so grateful for the opportunity and working with such a glamorous label was exciting. Seeing print and embroidery designs I’d worked on featured on Style.com having being shown at London Fashion Week was a great experience. However, looking back, it wasn’t a great fit for me. Their aesthetic is completely different to my own and whilst I’m happy working to a brief, I found having to completely remould my style to fit with the sleekness and femininity that is Issa’s trademark a bit of an uphill struggle. If I had the confidence and perspective I have now, I might have refused the role and pursued more suitable freelance work. However, I’m really relieved I didn’t: not only was working with them a wonderful thing to have done, but because I found it so challenging I learned an enormous amount about myself and about the way in which I’m happiest working.

Obviously birds, and your father’s work, inspire you. Has this always been the case?

I spent my childhood surrounded by birds – stuffed, wooden, painted, living – they were everywhere. I’ve grown up with the East End’s answer to David Attenborough for a dad: when you’re with him he keeps up a continual commentary on the natural world and it’s blessed me with an awareness of nature and wildlife that I haven’t really had to work for. Wherever I go I’m conscious of the birds, insects and plants around me, whether it’s seagulls and starlings on the Ridley Road Market or shorebirds along the River Colne.

Other inspirations?

My background is in art history, and I guess my painting style is inspired in equal measure by fourteenth-century egg tempera painting – I can spend hours in the National Gallery’s Sainsbury Wing – and more contemporary painters like Andrew Wyeth. I’m definitely quite traditional in my approach though, and spend a lot of time apologising for being a bit passé!

Your work is incredibly detailed – do you work mainly from photographs?

Funnily enough, the less closely I work from photographs, the more detailed my work gets. When I first started painting, I used to rely on photos a lot more heavily; my paintings were much more realistic, though somehow also much sketchier. Since I’ve become more confident, I’ve also become more immersed in surface pattern and less concerned with realism. I often find myself working on a decorative passage of feathers and thinking, ‘all I’d need to do is blow this up and put it into repeat and it’d make such a great digital print!’

What drew you to working with/on old books? They are things of beauty in themselves – where do you find them all?

I first started working with old books when I was studying fashion and textiles at university.  My mother and aunt were clearing out old stationary from my grandparent’s farm office. I salvaged it all and started to incorporate it into my work. My final collection sketchbook was an old family ledger, which I thought was empty. The whole collection was based on the First World War and its aftermath, and when I was in the final stages of the collection I realised that a few pages right at the back of the ledger had been used, and were dated 1917-18; it was a really affirming moment and felt a bit like someone from my family was sending me a message.  I love the battered aesthetic of old books, there’s something so tactile and appealing about them. I get a lot of them sent over from America now, but when I can, I love to hunt round car boots and flea markets.

Regarding your working process – do the backgrounds inspire the particular bird?

The books themselves have a huge influence on what I paint on them. I think the process of deciding what to paint on a particular book is the point at which my textile training has the biggest impact. Each painting has a colour story, and the books become like fabrics, they have their own personalities and it’s really important to work intuitively with their individual characteristics.

I love painting the birds’ heads – for me it’s where all the personality lies. I’ve done a series of “portrait close ups” for the new show and I’m really pleased with them. That first bit, when you’ve done maybe just the beak and the eye, is when you’ve got the most energy and excitement for a painting and you’re making all the big decisions about colour and form. It’s a great place to be. The worst bit of any painting is “the ugly phase”… I usually paint onto dark surfaces, and have to create a white base first, in the silhouette of the bird. There’s always a brief period before the painting’s started to take shape when it looks absolutely dreadful!

You are concentrating now on your career as a painter, but do you feel you may return to textiles in the future?

I’m definitely planning on working with fabrics again. I’m also fired up about learning to make shoes, and want to produce a collection of small-scale prints that would work in this format. It’s got to the point where I literally go to bed and dream about printed leather – I’ve got so much raw visual material buzzing round my head, so much inspiration from my paintings, that I can’t wait until I have time to start designing. It’s going to be exciting to take the paintings that have been the focus of my life for such a long time and do something completely different with them.

Are there any other projects that you are currently working on?

I’m writing a lot, which is something I’ve always done, and I’m really looking forward to seeing how this develops. Perhaps most excitingly of all though, I’m at the very early stages of realising a long-held dream, and I’m learning how to make shoes. I’ve wanted to do it for so long that I’m bubbling over with excitement about it.

What are your plans for the future?  

I’m looking forward to the point when things have settled down and I’m still painting enough to make a living, but also have more freedom to do other things, like write and get back into textile design. I’m really starting to crave a bit of variety now.

Looking back – is there a significant moment in your career development that stands out?

Other than my solo show selling out at the private view, which was a bit surreal, I think Texprint really was the major highlight of my career development so far. I was at New Designers when I got the phone call saying I’d been selected and I honestly nearly fell down the stairs with excitement. I think the best thing for me about Texprint was that Grayson Perry, who is one of my absolute heroes, was a judge. As someone who’s work traverses fine art and textiles, he was heaven sent, and finding out he’d selected me as the winner of the Interior Textiles prize was one of the happiest moments of my life.  I gained so much confidence and self-awareness from Texprint, and I’m hugely grateful for that experience.

Advice for those about to graduate this year?

Don’t worry if your work seems different from other graduates– my portfolio stuck out like a sore thumb and I felt like a rackety art student compared to the professionalism of everyone else, but I think that actually stood me in good stead in the end. If you get negative feedback, like I did from the man who told me I’d never make any money because I was an artist not a designer, don’t be disheartened: hidden in that feedback there might be a really good bit of advice.  Don’t be rigid, and be prepared to do stuff that wasn’t quite what you had in mind; you honestly never know where it’s going to end up.

The most important thing though is to enjoy the whole process of graduating – New Designers, Graduate Fashion Week, job interviews – talk to people and have fun; people respond really well to enthusiasm, and I really believe that conveying your love of what you do is almost as important as the work itself.

2009:  Nancy with Interiors prize judge Grayson Perry

Article tags: print (29), home & interiors (26), general (45), illustration (9)