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

26 August 2014 by Roger Tredre

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."


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