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Texprint 2013 Selection Interviews: how, why, who and what

23 July 2013 by Editor

With Texprint 2013 well underway this seems a timely opportunity to track back to the first stage of the selection process as we catch up with Texprint’s creative director Peter Ring-Lefevre to discuss the how, why, who and what of the Texprint interviews.

Peter, over 190 graduates are interviewed over a three-week period – quite a schedule, how does it all work?

Shortly after Easter Texprint approaches all the UK’s design colleges and universities, inviting textile course leaders and tutors to put forward their most talented designers who are about to graduate, and who they feel are most likely to benefit from the Texprint experience.  That they are Trained in Britain is the key, the designers are international as well as British-born, and can be graduating from BA or MA degree courses (though can only be selected once for Texprint, if at BA then not again at MA).

Photo left: Keighley Sheperdly, Sarah Cheyne / Photo right: Neil Bamford, Claire Whiston, Emma Shipley (hidden)

This is an intense time for the Texprint team as tutors are contacted, queries answered, designers telephoned and emailed to establish when they can come to London (as they hail from all corners of the UK!) and interview timetables are scheduled, changed and scheduled again!

Well over 240 designers were put forward this year by 37 UK colleges, which is fantastic.  However as we are only able to interview around 190 designers over our planned three weeks, already decisions need to be made! 

Prior to this I am in touch with our network of industry contacts, all amazing champions of Texprint each of whom give up time in their busy schedules to get involved and interview for at least one day. I also aim to invite several course leaders to participate as this is the best way to illustrate what Texprint is looking for and I know they find the experience very helpful.

JO PIERCE: “It’s great to be asked. As a senior lecturer and someone putting forward students for Texprint it’s a great opportunity to see first hand what Texprint is looking for, also to see the benchmark. It’s useful to meet with others in the industry and hear their views on students, and to see what they’re looking for.”

Angela cassidy, Noel Chapman, Jessica Quinton

Why is it important to conduct individual face-to-face interviews and who does the interviewing?

This is one of the unique aspects of the Texprint programme.  It is only by interviewing each designer, looking in detail at their portfolios and asking probing questions, that one can discover where their true potential lies.

It’s a rigorous process and the first stage of mentoring. Our interviewers are all experts in one or more textile discipline, they are all professionals and working in industry, have their own studios or textile-based businesses, and in some cases they are alumni. Given their wealth of experience the interviewers can quickly assess where a designer is coming from, what their interests and skills are and what potential they offer if given the best opportunities to showcase their work.

The face-to-face interview and the knowledge we build up of the selected designers also means that we can wholeheartedly recommend these designers to potential employers, not just for their design skills but for their confidence, work ethic, desire to succeed etc.

CLAIRE WHISTON: “I love spending a day immersing myself with students and their portfolios. Often at degree and MA shows you do not get to see the back up research or hear directly from the students what their work is about.  Something new and refreshing always crops up and new trends emerge. The mix of colleges allows me to overview the current year and points me to new emerging courses.”

And every designer benefits from this opportunity - for many, even if not selected for Texprint, the interview itself is a revelation.  The interviewers are able to swiftly highlight aspects of their work or suggest next steps that the designers may not have even considered.

JANE KELLOCK: “It’s exciting to be part of an initiative that supports British design and helps graduates reach the next level after completing their education. I find it very inspiring, being involved helps keep me in touch with what’s inspiring young people - and I feel passionate about helping young designers and want to give something back.”

Jane Kellock, David Edmond, Jeremy Somers

What are the interview panels looking for in each designer’s portfolio?

In September the selected designers will exhibit as professional designers at Indigo/Première Vision.  Indigo is central to the Texprint programme and experience - however as Texprint is increasingly seen as a design source for all creative industries – fashion, interiors, product, accessories, automotive, graphics among others - it is important that we think beyond fashion when considering the work.

JEREMY SOMERS: “I’m looking for originality, great colour and creativity, thoughtfulness, exceptional drawing skills and technical ability, plus confidence and conviction – and ultimately whether the graduate will gain from the Texprint experience.”

Primarily we are looking for 24 designers whose work pushes the boundaries!  Collections of work that demonstrate innovation, creativity, skill and commercial awareness.  It is also important to assess not just the work shown, but whether the designer has more ideas that can be developed in the future.

DAVID EDMOND: “Helping out with Texprint is a joy for me. It is great to see new designers’ potential and be able to help them with insight and directional advice.”

ELEANOR PRITCHARD: “I really enjoy seeing a snapshot of the work coming out of British textile courses. It’s a real privilege to be shown and talk through the sketchbooks, the journey and process behind a collection. I got a huge amount from Texprint when I graduated and am very happy to contribute to helping the next generation of designers.”

The interviews are also a unique opportunity to track how standards across the UK are changing or developing.  In some cases one is disappointed if standards seem weaker than previous years, in other cases, you can be completely overawed by the extraordinary work of many of today’s most talented graduates.

SARAH CHEYNE: “As I work in the more commercial sector of textiles it is refreshing to see portfolios of work which are not necessarily constrained by feasibility or production costs.”

Wrapping up, Peter says the key is to evaluate whether the interviewee is really ready for the opportunities Texprint can open up for them – is the designer focused and determined, do they understand the skills they need to be successful – not just to be talented, that’s a given, but also do they show enthusiasm, confidence and a willingness to learn, fast!

NEIL BAMFORD: “Texprint showcases our textile design graduates to the international industry. Being an ‘ex-Texprinter’ I am acutely aware of the support and springboard it gave me, so it’s important for me to give back and in turn support this great charity.”

Chris Judge, Helen Palmer

Texprint 2013 Interview Panels:

Texprint would like to take this opportunity to warmly thank all the professionals who participated in the 2013 Selection Interviews - your time, energy and experience is hugely appreciated as always.

Kim Avella: tutor Royal College of Art, freelance designer

Neil Bamford: Mint design studio

Joanna Bowring: sponsorship director Texprint, president British Textile Colour Group

Angela Cassidy: own studio, Texprint alumna

Noel Chapman: own studio

Sarah Cheyne: Johnson Cheyne design studio

Fiona Coleman: global head of colour WGSN

Isabel Dodd: tutor Chelsea College of Art & Design

Katie Dominy: founder Arts Thread

David Edmond: own studio

Katie Ellis: studio manager Circle Line Design

Philippa George: The Collection design studio

Gill Gledhill: GGHQ

Alison Grant: textile designer

Ruth Greany: fabric editor WGSN

Janet Holbrook: Holbrook Studio, Peclers

Chris Judge: own Studio

Jane Kellock: consultant Stylus and Debenhams, member British Textile Colour Group

Barbara Kennington: chairman Texprint

Jaqui Lewis: Lewis & Lewis design studio

Jaine McCormack: interiors textile design 

Shane McCoubrey: McCoubrey art & design

Kirsty McDougall: tutor Brighton, Dashing Tweeds

Helen Palmer: head of materials and knitwear WGSN

Gregory Parsons: Halcyon Days, museum curator

Gina Pierce: course leader London Metropolitan

Jo Pierce: senior lecturer Central St Martins

Eleanor Pritchard: own weave studio

Jessica Quinton: Quinton Chadwick

Emma Sewell: Wallace Sewell

Keighley Shepherdly: designer Liberty Art Fabrics

Emma Shipley: own studio, Texprint alumna

Alison Smart: RA Smart Ltd

Jeremy Somers: Circle Line Design

Angela Swan: own studio, Worshipful Company of Weavers

Anne Tyrrell MBE: CEO Anne Tyrrell Design

Claire Whiston: Whiston & Wright design studio


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