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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.
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Emma J Shipley on her stand at Indigo 2011
Emma J Shipley: out of this world storytelling
12 May 2013
The work of Emma J Shipley is very much rooted in skilled draftsmanship - her drawings intricate, her storytelling out of this world. These are certainly a great strength, but what has set Emma apart since graduating from the RCA and being selected for Texprint 2011, is her astute and instinctive grasp of what social networking can do to drive awareness of her brand.
Texprint caught up with Emma to find out more about her inspirations, her dynamic approach to creativity, and the third-party collaborations she has been working on since graduation.
©Emma J Shipley: autumn winter 2013
-Did you always plan to set up your own business?
After I graduated from my BA in Textile Design (from Birmingham City University) I worked for a print design studio in London. This was a great experience and taught me to work under pressure and to tight deadlines, but I also realised that I really wanted to carve out my own path rather than working for someone else. I went on to study MA Textiles at the Royal College of Art as I knew I needed to develop further and I wanted to have that platform to launch my label from.
-In what ways has Texprint been able to help or benefit you?
Being able to get my work in front of so many influential industry figures so soon after graduating was invaluable. The different exhibitions in London, Paris, Shanghai and Hong Kong brought income through sales and commissions, which was so important right at the start of my label. I also met suppliers who when they saw my work at the Texprint stand at Première Vision, wanted to support me in the early stages, one of which I'm still working with to produce my luxury scarves. Texprint has also been there when I've had business or legal issues I needed advice on.
At retail, from left: Bon Marche, Fortnum & Mason, Liberty
-How helpful has it been to communicate online via Twitter etc - how essential is social media for someone setting up their own brand identity do you think?
I've used Twitter for quite a few years - since before graduating and starting my label. I've always found it to be an amazing tool for connecting with others and finding out information in the areas I'm interested in. So I still use it for these reasons, and for my label it's the most direct way of communicating with a wide audience. Being able to instantly share an image of what I'm working on at that time, or tell people about an event I'm doing is an amazing thing. The fact that it can be a conversation means that people do feel engaged with the brand and I also get feedback on what people are really responding to or what they get excited about.
I've also found Instagram great as it's purely image-based, which really suits the creative industries. I follow lots of other users (photographers, designers, magazines etc) - it brings me inspiration as well as letting me share my own images. I'm new to Vine and although I'm personally more engaged by still images, being able to create and share short video clips can be really useful for events or exhibitions.
London Fashion Week, February 2012
-Do you work from home or studio?
A space in a shared studio. I started working from home after I graduated from the RCA but I much prefer having a workspace separate to home, and I really enjoy sharing with others who are working in creative fields. The RCA was quite an intense experience - being in the studio surrounded by other designers all the time - but it's very inspiring and I really missed that when I was working from home on my own.
-What have been the key challenges - managing accounts, space to work, finding manufacturers, contacts?
There have been major challenges in all areas to be honest. It's been important to find people I can go to for advice… As I'm experiencing all these things for the first time there are bound to be issues and hurdles to overcome. I've also roped in my dad to help with a lot of the business side to enable me to still have time to design for my own label as well as commissions for big companies that I've been working on.
©Emma J Shipley: autumn winter 2013
-How do you find it working on your own, is it sometimes hard to motivate yourself? Or do you have help, an assistant?
I haven't found it hard to motivate myself at all as I've been so busy since graduating. Also as I'm in a shared studio it's a nice balance between being able to focus on my own work and also having a social and creative environment. Commissions for other companies always have short deadlines (they want everything yesterday) so I just get on with them. Designing for my own label can get pushed back if I'm working on commissions, so then when I do have time to work on my own designs I'm rearing to go. Obviously I'm passionate about my work so it's not a chore. I get excited about starting new designs and collections. I do take on students to assist me part-time, more on the sales, marketing and events side, and it's great to have a fresh look and input on what I'm doing.
©Emma J Shipley: autumn winter 2013
-Where are your scarves printed - in the UK or abroad?
The scarves are printed in Como, Italy, with a supplier I found through Texprint. I started out manufacturing in the UK, but unfortunately I found the suppliers unreliable and the end product ended up being too expensive even in the luxury market. The quality is better in Italy as they have a long history of silk printing - buyers from stores often comment on the amazing quality of the final pieces and I'm always pleased with them, too.
-Has anything you've worked on gone into production under license? With which companies?
Yes - I've worked on a project with Camira Fabrics, it produces textiles for commercial interiors. This will launch at Clerkenwell Design Week in May as Emma J Shipley x Camira. I've also recently launched a collection of wallpaper and interior fabric with Osborne & Little called Kayyam.
Collaborations with Anthropologie (wallpaper) and Camira (two new fabric designs)
Collaboration with Osborne & Little
-What captures your imagination - as your drawn work is quite naturalistic, do you draw from life or photos?
Inspiration comes from all over the place, but my main visual inspiration is always the natural world. This can come from trips I take (I recently went on safari in South Africa which was hugely inspiring for me), photographs, films, artists and so on. I'm also inspired by ideas and books - especially Richard Dawkins’ book on evolution and Ian Stewart’s on chaos theory. My drawings can take days and weeks, and are never an exact replication of something but are a combination of different inspirations as well as coming from my imagination. So I always work in my studio, using lots of different images and photographs.
-What do you love most about what you're doing, and like least?
I love the drawing and design process the most… I enjoy the business aspects too as its all part of it, but there is a lot of admin, which isn't always thrilling.
-What are your plans for the future?
To continue to grow my label in the UK and overseas, and to work on some interesting collaborations with bigger companies that will raise my brand profile.
Emma has been nominated for the UKFT Rise Newcomer Awards (2013 UK Fashion and Textile Association awards) due to take place on 23 May 2013. We wish her success in this and in the future.
Sample sale, April 2012
©Emma J Shipley: spring summer 2013
...from the spring summer 2013 collection
Texprint talks: Emma Mawston of Liberty Art Fabrics
25 April 2013
Emma Mawston, head of design for Liberty Art Fabrics, is not surprisingly passionate about prints and the Liberty heritage. She is also a long-time supporter of Texprint and regularly gives time to participate in the Texprint interview panels that take place each June.
As a creative company focused on design excellence Liberty understands just how important it is to look to their future heritage and drive innovation by supporting the next generation of young designers; Liberty Art Fabrics sponsors the Texprint Pattern Award.
-Emma, how long have you worked at Liberty Art Fabrics and what were you doing before?
I have worked at Liberty for nearly twenty-one years – in fact the same amount of time as Alexandra Shulman has been editor at Vogue!
While at college I had a great work placement with Nina Campbell, I then won an RSA Bursary which led to a placement with Cavendish Textiles – both invaluable experiences. On graduating I went freelance, exhibiting at numerous exhibitions, working freelance in-house at Nigel French (design consultancy), and designing for a variety of markets under my own name.
When I applied for the Liberty role, I found out that they had asked my to interview because they liked my handwriting on the letter accompanying my CV!
-Tell us about the team at Liberty Art Fabrics?
The designers at Liberty Art Fabrics are Sheona, Sally, Polly, Robin, Keighley, Laura-Maria and Carrie. At any one time the team are working across three areas - fashion, furnishing and lifestyle art fabrics - on different briefs, and often for different seasons. We often go on drawing research trips, have drawing days and spend time hand drawing and painting original artwork.
Also in the team are Rupal who works on special projects, and Lauren who backs us all up on everything plus creates the presentation Powerpoints, keeps the fent book*, and makes sure all design and colour files are organised at the end of every season. Holly is our studio co-ordinator who keeps things running smoothly!
(NB: each design is archived in various swatch and fent books*; artwork, fabric bases, colourways, promotional and sales material are all recorded).
Spring/summer 2013 inspired by The Chelsea Flower Show
-What is the process that takes a design idea into production and retail?
At the moment we are about to start creating sketches for spring/summer 2015.
I love coming up with the design briefs, it’s one of the most inspirational aspects of my job. One of my favourite tasks is to thoroughly research an idea and come up with something original each season.
Liberty Art Fabrics is a design-led company, which we pride ourselves on. While we listen to feedback from customers, agents and our sales team our design briefs are created two to three years before a collection is launched at retail so it is really important that the collections are design-led and retain the heritage and originality which makes our prints so successful.
Each season the studio creates around 43 designs in 8 colourways. We then present our work at a number of selection meetings, working very closely with Kirstie (Kirstie Carey MD of Liberty Design) who reviews the new ideas. We whittle these down to 40 designs, all of which will be printed onto Liberty’s iconic Tana Lawn. We also create capsule collections on a number of different base fabrics using the designs most relevant to each base.
While we aim to think as creatively as possible at this stage, there may also be other considerations – it is important that our collections are successful worldwide, so we occasionally work on special projects that cater for specific design and colour requests. We also work on childrenswear design and colour.
-Tell us about your recent travels for inspiration and research?
While researching spring/summer 2013 we went to Tresco (Scilly Isles) – in fact nearly all the best sellers in this collection were inspired by that trip - we also went to Vienna for design research, to the Chelsea Flower Show and on the trail of Guerrilla Gardeners in London!
More recently we’ve been to Glasgow and The Isle of Bute, both wonderful. However my favourite research trip was to Iceland for autumn/winter 2013, a truly inspirational place that will stay with me forever.
Spring/summer 2013 inspired by Tresco
Spring/summer 2013 inspired by The Chelsea Flower Show
Spring/summer 2013 inspired by Vienna
-Do you ever refer back to the Liberty archives?
Yes, the Liberty Archive is amazing. It is hidden away in a warehouse in Bermondsey - a treasure trove of archived Liberty prints and sketches. Every design, from tana lawn to silk satin, is documented with as much information as possible and stored safely in a digital database.
But most exciting of course are the collections themselves - oversized books bursting to the brim with swatches, piles of neatly labeled boxes and paintings as bright as the day they were painted.
The Liberty archives
-What are your favourite inspirations right now?
Gosh, almost everything inspires me, but mainly it is my daughters Mauve and Rose Xanthe who make me laugh so much and look at the world from such a variety of different and wonderful perspectives.
-In what ways do you work with students and what would you look for in a graduate designer joining your team?
We work on an annual collaboration with the textile design students at Central Saint Martins, and have also worked with another MA course creating colour for a recent collection. We always have work experience students in the studio, working from one week to three months at a time.
I would look for the same thing in a graduate as any designer – diversity of ideas, great sketchbooks with lots of original hand drawing, and a beautiful and varied sense of colour. Personality is important too - someone who is very lovely and very inspiring – it is so important that they spend time in the studio and for the team to bond with them. They would also need relevant computer skills!
Spring/summer 2013 inspired by Tresco
Textile: ©Lisa Bloomer
Texprint alumnae at SIT Select, 4 May
07 April 2013
Texprint has been invited by Lizzi Walton, artistic director and CEO of Stroud International Textiles to introduce the work of Texrint alumnae Lauren Bowker (Texprint 2011) and Lisa Bloomer (Texprint 2012) at SIT Select on Saturday 4 May.
A day of textile innovation and design excellence Introduced by Barbara Kennington; illustrated talks from Lauren Bowker and Lisa Bloomer.
Date: Saturday 4 May, start 1.00 pm – 3 pm
Tickets: £10 & £8 (Friends of SIT & Museum)
SIT Select is the exhibition arm of Stroud International Textiles, their aim to raise awareness and to increase the enjoyment of contemporary textiles and contemporary crafts. Through an extensive programme of exhibitions, talks and open studios, SIT Select challenges the public’s perception of contemporary crafts while increasing active participation in the arts for a wide range of people and abilities.
While at first glance textile art and craft may seem only loosely connected to the faster moving and commercial worlds of fashion and interiors, there’s little doubt that it can inform, guide and inspire. As fashion textiles become increasingly innovative and creative, and production challenges even greater, it is important to be open-minded and explore seemingly less walked routes to discover new directions for colour and materials.
Since leaving The Royal College of Art the routes taken by Lauren Bowker and Lisa Bloomer could not be more different although there are points of connection, particularly around sustainability and textile development to improve the world in which we live, which motivate them both.
Lauren Bowker’s vision - to See The Unseen - lies beyond the world of the traditional textile as she intertwines unexpected materials and technology for the future world of arts, fashion and wellbeing - everything from catwalks to feathers to concrete - always with the human at the heart and with the intention of providing real solutions to real problems, improving and inspiring our lives.
Lauren Bowker for Peachoo + Krejberg 2012/13
Lisa Bloomer’s work, though firmly based in weave, goes beyond the traditional textile approach as she explores dye, print and freehand techniques. Using digital technology Lisa mixes the complexity of cross-dyeing with the spontaneity of mark-making to create sustainably-produced, bespoke fabrics for interiors and fashion.
Lisa Bloomer at Indigo 2011
Textile: ©Lisa Bloomer
The main exhibitions and talks curated by SIT take place in the Museum in the Park, Stroud - check WEBSITE. Tickets must be either booked online or by sending a cheque to SIT. Details are in brochure and on the booking page.
Texprint is pleased to support this extraordinarily rich and diverse programme and applauds the excellence and innovation of UK-based designer makers who are driving textiles and contemporary crafts forward nationally and internationally. CLICK BELOW to view the full brochure onscreen:
Genevieve Bennett: Maze
Genevieve Bennett: bespoke contemporary craft
18 October 2012
We were delighted to note recently that Texprint alumni Genevieve Bennett has been nominated for the second time for an Elle Decoration Design Award. Genevieve runs a bespoke leather design business creating beautifully crafted and individual pieces for interiors. She has an imaginative approach to her craft, using many traditional techniques such as embossing, engraving, sculpting and inlay work, in a refreshingly contemporary way. Genevieve spoke to Texprint about her exciting career path since winning the Texprint ‘Breaking New Ground’ prize in 2000.
Great news about your nomination for the Elle Decoration Design Awards – how does it feel to be included in this prestigious list again? (Genevieve won an award in 2006, and was nominated in 2007).
I was delighted - it’s a fantastic honour! Originally the awards were judged by eminent designers such as Terence Conran - a great opportunity to get their attention. Now they are judged by the public which in some ways seems fairer and makes for a more interesting contest. The awards are useful too for international recognition as there is so much press coverage.
What are the main projects that you are currently working on?
I have just finished two large commissions for an interior design firm in Hong Kong, three very large sculpted panels and 100 relief tiles for private residences. This was a great opportunity to work with established companies and gain international presence. I am currently building a relationship with a distributor in India for my leather tiles, and have just set up a relationship with an agent in New York for the bespoke sculpted panels, which will I hope lead to some interesting projects.
I am also selling and distributing the work I launched last year at the London Design Festival and will start new design work within the coming months for launch next year.
Genevieve Bennett: Damask
What inspires you in your work?
I am inspired both by pattern and 3D forms. The initial inspiration for my sculpted panels came from the wood carving of 17th century master craftsman Grinling Gibbons. Other 3D inspiration comes from paper engineering techniques. Pattern inspiration comes from anywhere - specific loves are ceramics by William De Morgan, Moorish lustreware, Art Deco embroideries, Chinese lattice screens, and patterned tiles of all kinds.
What drew you to working with leather?
I used to create sculptural forms in paper and card, but I really wanted my work to feel more permanent, for it to be longer lasting and not always reliant on framing for protection. I also wanted to move from panels to actual wall coverings thinking these would appeal to a wider audience. I chose leather as it can have similar sculptural qualities while is more durable and flexible in terms of possibilities of application.
Are there other materials/techniques that you like to work with?
Yes, I’m keen to work with a wider variety of materials. At the moment I’m thinking of working in felt - on its own and in combination with leather – and perhaps wood too.
You have been working as a freelance designer for over 10 years now – what are the advantages/drawbacks?
I enjoy being involved in the whole process, so on any new project I work in-house with the manufacturer for several days a week. I find this a more rewarding and collaborative approach. Freelance work offers you the opportunity to get involved with a variety of projects and ultimately to gain a wider experience. I tried selling designs on a one off basis but was not very successful!
The work I did at Habitat was fantastic; I worked freelance on pattern designs for a huge range of products. However, it was the full time design managers who were able to travel abroad, spending time in the factories and developing the products. I missed being involved in this aspect of the process.
Genevieve Bennett: Camellia
You have worked with some prestigious companies as a freelance designer – is there a particular project that has been a favourite?
The work I did for Wedgwood provided a very special opportunity to work with the 250 yr old pattern archive of a heritage British brand. One of their major markets is Japan, and I made regular visits to learn about the Japanese market. This was a very unique and exciting experience.
Can you describe a typical day?
I get to the studio at around 9am and start my day dealing with emails and admin - I find it hard to concentrate until this is under control. With any small business this can really take over, so I try to limit it to an hour in the morning and an hour in the afternoon.
I then focus on the current project, depending on the stage it is at; sculpting the leather shapes, preparing artwork or a layout, ordering leather, getting shipping quotes etc. I then try and spend part of the day creating new designs for my future work or for a new client. I usually leave at 5pm to collect my son but then continue working from home until around 10pm. I almost always have a sketchpad to hand!
What are the most enjoyable aspects of your work?
Creating new designs, drawing, testing out new ideas, and then, seeing a finished product in a shop, or in situ in someone’s home.
And the least enjoyable?
Legal contracts and negotiations. As small business I have to oversee all aspects from design, to sales, to contracts; sometimes these can seem confusing and daunting, but I am learning.
Genevieve Bennett: Deco
What are your plans for the near future?
New designs! New leather tile designs, maybe looking at screens and other applications other than wall. New sculpted designs, looking at introducing new materials into my work, such as felt. I would also like to develop the overseas distribution of the tiles and build on the existing business.
I would love to work with on more projects with interior designers - they always transform your work into something you could have never imagined!
Looking back, is there a significant moment in your career that stands out?
Developing my research and ideas at the RCA where I started to work with leather – and connecting with Spinneybeck, the North American leather specialists, was significant too - they really opened my eyes to the creative possibilities.
You won the Breaking New Ground Prize in 2000 at Texprint – what did this mean to you?
It was a fantastic confidence boost. I sold a lot of work at Indigo in Paris, which enabled me to establish a studio and buy equipment. Winning also encouraged me to believe that experimental ideas are important and can ultimately be developed into something commercial.
Advice for those graduating this year?
I feel I could perhaps have learnt more about manufacturing in a shorter period of time had I worked full time for a year or so with a major brand. Building experience by working freelance took longer, but at the same time working on a variety of projects was invaluable. I would say if you have a product ready to go and which you believe in, then don’t wait around, go for it!