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

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 (43), fashion (35), general (54)

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 (30), general (54), champions of texprint (42), sponsors (27), texprint 2013 (22), judges 2013 (13)

Kirstie Carey, managing director, wholesale brands at Liberty, with alumna Ffion Griffith

Liberty Art Fabrics internship marks Texprint’s first UK industry placement

28 April 2014

With the aim of selecting and supporting emerging textile design talent, Texprint, in collaboration with long-standing sponsor Liberty Art Fabrics, has established its first industry internship in the UK, funded partly by Foundation Sponsor, The Drapers’ Company.

The first beneficiary is Texprint 2013 alumna Ffion Griffith, a graduate of Chelsea College of Art & Design.  The weave designer began her year long paid internship at the start of 2014 with the title of new product development assistant.  She is working on innovation for base cloths, undertaking extensive research as part of the Liberty Art Fabrics team.

Kirstie Carey, managing director, wholesale brands at Liberty, says of the internship: "I have always believed that innovation is the lifeblood of a successful business and sustained revenue growth. The investment in our innovation program at Liberty is a top priority. Bringing together the energy and fresh ideas of Ffion and the wisdom and experience of some established industry gurus, allows us to create the Liberty textiles and designs of the future. At the same time, providing an invaluable and supported introduction to the commercial world, for an outstanding young talent at the beginning of her career."

 

Carey continues: “Without doubt Ffion will bring ideas and opportunities to the table. With the enthusiasm and freshness of youth, she shares new ideas that are not influenced by years of experience or commercial practicality, challenging our processes and stimulating our production and technical teams. Hers is the 'can do...’ attitude that we nurture at Liberty. During the course of the graduate intern year I anticipate that Ffion will be involved in the development, commercialisation and global launch of three new products that will generate in excess of £1million in their launch year and significantly more in subsequent years.”

Fellow Texprint sponsor The Drapers’ Company, is a co-financial supporter of the new initiative.  Andrew Mellows, The Drapers’ Company head of charities, explains the impetus to get involved in the new programme:  “The Drapers’ Company is aware of the difficulties involved in finding work for graduating designers today.  We understand that internships are a very good way for emerging designers to get their foot in the door.  This particular Liberty Art Fabrics internship is a fantastic opportunity for one of these young designers to gain valuable experience within the textile industry.”

Heritage reconsidered for a modern audience is very much the theme that links The Drapers’ Company, Liberty Art Fabrics and Texprint.

To mark this connection, in mid-March 2014 designer Ffion Griffith and Tex chairman Barbara Kennington, were given a special tour of the Drapers’ Hall in the heart of the City of London in the company of Penny Fussel, senior achivist at The Drapers’ Company, and Jane Makower, court assistant.

Ffion Griffith (right) with Jane Makower

Founded over 600 years ago to buy and sell woolen cloth in Europe, the Drapers’ Company is incorporated by Royal Charter and is one of the Twelve Great Livery Companies.  Around the late 1800s The Drapers’ Company became a charity and manager of investments, primarily in land and property.

The reception and dining rooms of the Drapers’ Hall boast a wealth of decorative pieces, including many fabrics, tapestries, wallpapers, carvings and carpets specially commissioned from renowned manufacturers past and present such as Crace & Sons, Richard Humphries Weavers, Aubusson, and Morris & Co.

The Drapers' Hall, City of London

“The Drapers’ strong belief in heritage and traditions feeds into our activities across all the sectors,” says Jane Makower, “including textiles; our internal textile working party was established to initiate pilots of textile-related schemes, in the main focused on encouraging young people to develop creative and hands-on skills in the workplace.”

Liberty is similarly grounded by its heritage and story. Ffion Griffith’s first project with Liberty Art Fabrics was to research and develop new base cloths for the internationally renowned Liberty print collections. In at the deep end, Ffion already feels she has learnt so much, visiting Premiere Vision and Texworld in February, and exploring the amazing Liberty archive resource.

She is now working with new head of design Tessa Birch on the brief for spring/summer 2016, and also with Emma Mawston who heads up the new Home Textiles division, developing designs for throws, blankets and cushions.

By working with Liberty Art Fabrics for 12 months Ffion will be fully immersed in the whole seasonal cycle, tracking the creative process from research and exhibition visits, to sketch and print development, to production and presentations to buyers – an extraordinary insight, and a great advantage when it comes to the next steps in her career development.

“The Texprint programme has been a huge help in guiding me at the very start of my career and developing my commercial understanding,” says Ffion, “ had it not been for Texprint, I would not be in the position I’m in today.”

We look forward to catching up with Ffion following her next 9 months at Liberty Art Fabrics.

One of Ffion's sketchbooks, photo taken at Texprint London event 2013

Article tags: general (54), champions of texprint (42), business (53), texprint 2013 (22)

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 (30), alumni (43), texprint 2012 (27), fashion (35), business (53), illustration (9), indigo paris (11)