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

Elaine Igoe (far right) with colleague viewing the work of Flett Bertram at Texprint London, July 2014

From Texprint to academia: Elaine Igoe

24 November 2014

Texprint encourages its designers to stay in touch. We love to hear how careers have progressed and share their news. So meet Dr. Elaine Igoe – yes, a doctor of textiles! – who was a Texprint designer back in 2001 and has gone on to a stellar academic career.

She remembers with fondness her Texprint experience. Winning the Breaking New Ground prize. Meeting the likes of Donna Karan, Ornella Bignami, Luca Missoni. Visiting Hong Kong and China ("something I could only have dreamed of doing"). Even the bad stuff is fondly recalled from the distance of 13 years – such as falling ill with food poisoning on her last day in Hong Kong and having to be nursed onto the plane by Texprint's Christian Dewar-Durie.

Step forward Dr. Elaine Igoe, Senior Lecturer in Fashion and Textile Design at the University of Portsmouth. It's wonderful to discover that a bona fide doctor of textiles has emerged from the Texprint group of distingished alumnae.

Elaine completed an MA in Fashion: Textiles for Fashion at Central St Martins after showing at Indigo and Interstoff Asia and designing a collection of menswear for London Fashion Week in 2003. She then embarked on an academic career at the University of Portsmouth and, after completing a PGCE, began a part-time MPhil/PhD study at the Royal College of Art in 2005.  

After many exciting years of research (interrupted by maternity leave) she completed her PhD in February 2014. The title of her PhD is appropriately formidable: "In Textasis: Matrixial Narratives of Textile Design".

How did you find yourself drawn to the academic route?

After completing my MA at Central St Martins, I realised that I really enjoyed talking about and thinking about my working methods as a textile designer.  I was always interested in a concept and process led approach to designing surfaces.  I had long known that I wasn't a commercial textile designer, but that my textile designs were examples of what textiles could be, and therefore innovative and had a certain value to industry.  I knew that by following an academic route, I would be able to pursue my interest in talking about the textile design process as well as undertaking more formal research to develop my processes and theories.

It's great that you are a Doctor? Do you find you need to do a lot of explaining to non-academics about what exactly you specialise in?

Oh yes indeed! In fact, the premise of my doctorate is based on the lack of knowledge about textile design, and that's not even generally, but even within the wider world of design.  My thesis aims to begin an articulation of the textile design process and how this sits with design research theory. It touches on feminism and psychoanalysis to help explore the nature of textile design and the specific type of knowledge it involves.  When explaining what I do, I stress that its textile design, and this seems to help people understand a little better...I think!

What do you enjoy most about teaching?

It's different everyday and never boring, each year you meet a new set of characters, my knowledge of both my subject and people builds and develops constantly.  Working within academia has given me the chance to be myself within the design discipline of textiles.

What did you think of the new generation of Texprint designers in London this summer?

Wonderfully varied and extremely talented as always.  I particularly admired the surface embellishment and constructed textiles from the likes of Federica Tedeschi, Tali Furman and Flett Bertram as well as Charlotte Beevor's exuberant use of colour and mark-making. When I visited the Texprint Londonexhibition I was really impressed by the confidence with which they spoke about their work. In fact, I have since invited Federica Tedeschi to the University of Portsmouth as a guest speaker, the student's were really inspired by her.

Elaine Igoe and colleague viewing the work of Federica Tedeschi at Texprint London, July 2014

Any more good stories from your Texprint days? 

My overarching memory of my Texprint days was the comradery from the other finalists and support we were given and I have been heartened by the fact that I am still remembered by the organisers, 13 years on from my own moment in the limelight.  I do also remember being abit dumbstruck when Donna Karan herself came to look through my work and shook my hand, never mind Luca Missoni giving me my award! 

For more on Elaine Igoe's research:

www.port.academia.edu/ElaineIgoe

Twitter: @e_igoe

Article tags: alumni (45), general (61), texprint 2014 (17)

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 (45), general (61)

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 (61), 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 (45), fashion (35), general (61)

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