Texprint: from Interview to Première Vision Designs
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After Texprint: how designers continue to prosper
13 October 2014 by Roger Tredre
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.
Internship Diary: Florence Angelica Colson at Lululemon Athletica
10 May 2014 by Editor
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!”
Texprint starts the year on a high: new prize collaboration with print innovator Miroglio Textile
14 February 2014 by Editor
With the aim of selecting and supporting emerging textile design talent, Texprint has developed a new opportunity with a key industry partner to help the best British-trained graduates reach their potential.
New Miroglio Texprint Award to further print innovation
Digital print specialist Miroglio Textile (MT) joins with Texprint as a Major Sponsor of the charity to found a new internship prize initiated by Elena Miroglio, vice president of the Miroglio Group, and commercial director Chiaretto Calo.
“Sponsoring the Texprint project takes on a great significance for us in terms of supporting the creative arts. Over the years Miroglio Textile has backed creative talent through a series of ventures. We believe in education and we are on a constant quest of finding new creative processes to bring to the company,” explains Elena Miroglio.
The winner of the internship will be chosen from among Texprint’s 2014 selected designers and, as well as a cash prize, will have the opportunity to go to the company’s headquarters in Piedmont, Italy, and develop his or her work in mass production; present his or her designs to MT’s customers and gain experience and exposure to the marketplace. Miroglio continues: “With the Texprint project we want to enhance even further our vision about product creation. We want our products to be original, to tell stories and to be able to reach our customers’ hearts. And to achieve this important goal we give the designers the chance to work with the latest digital technology where MT is a leader.”
Miroglio Textile is a long-time supporter of Texprint. And the company’s senior print designer Louise Somers took part in the programme in 2008. “There is something about the taste and a definite point of difference with UK-trained designers,” says Somers. “Texprint’s meticulous selection process determines the best and most creative emerging designers ready to enter industry. The work speaks for itself; it’s of a really high standard.”
"The new award from Miroglio represents an exciting development for the Texprint programme. After the selection and mentoring of the talented young graduates through Texprint, for them to have the opportunity for direct experience with industry is an invaluable asset that contributes enormously to their career prospects, and could even be seen as completing the vital design education process. It is particularly gratifying that one of our existing and long-term supporters, Miroglio, has the vision to take this step and increase its involvement with Texprint in this positive way."
One year on: Israel Parra-Zanabria is making waves in Mexico City
17 December 2013 by Editor
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.
WGSN Global Fashion Awards, Emerging Fashion Brand: Emma J Shipley
07 November 2013 by Editor
The WGSN Global Fashion Awards held 5th November saw Texprint alumna Emma J Shipley winning the prestigious Avery Dennison Emerging Fashion Brand Award.
Speaking from the awards venue, the V&A museum, London, Tim Voegele-Downing, Global Creative Director at Avery Dennison RBIS commented: “While we saw phenomenal entries from all finalists, Emma J Shipley ultimately stood out. She created not just an electrifying collection but also a powerful brand that helps differentiate her products". The award includes a €12,000 prize from Avery Dennison to help elevate the brand.
Emma Shipley (centre), with Tim Voegele-Downing and Susie Lau / photo: Dave Benett
Since graduating from the Royal College of Art in 2011 Emma has won great respect, not only for her highly skilled and imaginative drawings transposed so beautifully onto silk, wool and cashmere scarves, but for her careful and creative brand development.
From the outset Emma has used social media to connect with fans and buyers - including guest editing the Browns London blog in May 2011 - and just a few months ago she launched her online shop.
Her business has also been built on smart thinking. Collaborations with Anthroplogie, Nicholas Kirkwood, Camira and Osborne & Little have opened new avenues and audiences for her extraordinary work. She has also exhibited at London Fashion Week. Retailers for her scarves include Liberty, Fortnum & Mason, Harvey Nichols and independent retailer Wolf & Badger.
Emma Shipley with Anne Tyrrell MBE
Confindustria Como annually supports six Texprint designers to participate in a programme of internships with leading Italian mills in Como to see the Italian textile industry in action, and in October 2011 Emma worked her internship with Ratti SpA, one of the leading Como-based companies in the international luxury textiles industry. The bulk of her production is now printed in Italy and stems from this early relationship building and experience of the production process.
In May 2013 Emma was also awarded the RISE Newcomer Award at the UK Fashion & Textile Awards 2013, presented by HRH the Princess Royal at One Mayfair in London.
WGSN, Confindustria Como and Ratti are all valued sponsors of Texprint.
Flying high: Nancy Rose Taplin, Artist and Designer
12 August 2013 by
Artist and textile designer Nancy Taplin won the Interiors prize at Texprint in 2009. She was selected, and her prize presented by the artist Grayson Perry, an experience that Nancy describes as “one of the happiest of my life.” Our interview with Nancy illustrates how much the Texprint showcase contributes to launching creative careers and how the paths alumni follow are increasingly rich and diverse.
Creativity is in Nancy’s DNA; her father is the sculptor, Guy Taplin, and her mother is the ceramicist Robina Jack. An exciting showcase of the work of all three will be revealed through a family show at renowned gallery Messum’s, in London, which opens on 29th October 2013. Nancy will be showing a new collection of her startlingly beautiful and detailed bird paintings.
Nancy loves living and working in London - she shares a studio with eight other people, almost all of who are working in fashion and textiles. A typical day for her would include around six hours painting – but she told us, “The way in which I paint is detailed and intense and I can only really paint in short bursts, so I take lots of breaks and chat with people. When I first started painting, I was living in Essex and working on my own. I would dream about a space in a big, busy London studio; I feel so blessed now that it’s become a reality.”
How many new works are you creating for the forthcoming Taplin family show at Messum’s?
There will be ten new pieces. It’s really exciting to see the work come together - in some ways it feels a lot like planning and creating a fabric collection. Even though I’m working with unique, stand-alone pieces, I can’t help but think about how they’ll fit together as a group, and I’m really looking forward to seeing them in a gallery context.
How did this opportunity come about?
My family are all artists and it was suggested that we have a family show. I started painting by accident in 2010. I was working as a freelance textile designer at the time, primarily for Issa, having been approached by them at Texprint’s London show. I was quite reluctant to suddenly start producing fine art pieces because I couldn’t see myself working in that way, but thought I may as well give it a go. I’d intended to do a small series of prints, but my father saw the sketchbook I was drawing in – an old ledger onto which I’d painted a bird – and immediately saw that it worked as a piece in itself. I sold all the book paintings I did for that show, and after that it just took on a momentum of its own. I’ve since had a couple more group shows and a solo show and I still haven’t managed to hang on to a painting for myself!
It’s funny, because when I was at Indigo Paris with Texprint, I was approached by a man who bluntly told me my fabrics were beautiful but I’d never make any money as a textile designer because they were fine art, and although it did trouble me at the time, I often think how it was a strangely prescient comment.
After winning the 2009 Texprint Interiors Prize you went on to work as print and embellishment designer for Issa. How was this experience?
It was a massive learning curve. I was so grateful for the opportunity and working with such a glamorous label was exciting. Seeing print and embroidery designs I’d worked on featured on Style.com having being shown at London Fashion Week was a great experience. However, looking back, it wasn’t a great fit for me. Their aesthetic is completely different to my own and whilst I’m happy working to a brief, I found having to completely remould my style to fit with the sleekness and femininity that is Issa’s trademark a bit of an uphill struggle. If I had the confidence and perspective I have now, I might have refused the role and pursued more suitable freelance work. However, I’m really relieved I didn’t: not only was working with them a wonderful thing to have done, but because I found it so challenging I learned an enormous amount about myself and about the way in which I’m happiest working.
Obviously birds, and your father’s work, inspire you. Has this always been the case?
I spent my childhood surrounded by birds – stuffed, wooden, painted, living – they were everywhere. I’ve grown up with the East End’s answer to David Attenborough for a dad: when you’re with him he keeps up a continual commentary on the natural world and it’s blessed me with an awareness of nature and wildlife that I haven’t really had to work for. Wherever I go I’m conscious of the birds, insects and plants around me, whether it’s seagulls and starlings on the Ridley Road Market or shorebirds along the River Colne.
My background is in art history, and I guess my painting style is inspired in equal measure by fourteenth-century egg tempera painting – I can spend hours in the National Gallery’s Sainsbury Wing – and more contemporary painters like Andrew Wyeth. I’m definitely quite traditional in my approach though, and spend a lot of time apologising for being a bit passé!
Your work is incredibly detailed – do you work mainly from photographs?
Funnily enough, the less closely I work from photographs, the more detailed my work gets. When I first started painting, I used to rely on photos a lot more heavily; my paintings were much more realistic, though somehow also much sketchier. Since I’ve become more confident, I’ve also become more immersed in surface pattern and less concerned with realism. I often find myself working on a decorative passage of feathers and thinking, ‘all I’d need to do is blow this up and put it into repeat and it’d make such a great digital print!’
What drew you to working with/on old books? They are things of beauty in themselves – where do you find them all?
I first started working with old books when I was studying fashion and textiles at university. My mother and aunt were clearing out old stationary from my grandparent’s farm office. I salvaged it all and started to incorporate it into my work. My final collection sketchbook was an old family ledger, which I thought was empty. The whole collection was based on the First World War and its aftermath, and when I was in the final stages of the collection I realised that a few pages right at the back of the ledger had been used, and were dated 1917-18; it was a really affirming moment and felt a bit like someone from my family was sending me a message. I love the battered aesthetic of old books, there’s something so tactile and appealing about them. I get a lot of them sent over from America now, but when I can, I love to hunt round car boots and flea markets.
Regarding your working process – do the backgrounds inspire the particular bird?
The books themselves have a huge influence on what I paint on them. I think the process of deciding what to paint on a particular book is the point at which my textile training has the biggest impact. Each painting has a colour story, and the books become like fabrics, they have their own personalities and it’s really important to work intuitively with their individual characteristics.
I love painting the birds’ heads – for me it’s where all the personality lies. I’ve done a series of “portrait close ups” for the new show and I’m really pleased with them. That first bit, when you’ve done maybe just the beak and the eye, is when you’ve got the most energy and excitement for a painting and you’re making all the big decisions about colour and form. It’s a great place to be. The worst bit of any painting is “the ugly phase”… I usually paint onto dark surfaces, and have to create a white base first, in the silhouette of the bird. There’s always a brief period before the painting’s started to take shape when it looks absolutely dreadful!
You are concentrating now on your career as a painter, but do you feel you may return to textiles in the future?
I’m definitely planning on working with fabrics again. I’m also fired up about learning to make shoes, and want to produce a collection of small-scale prints that would work in this format. It’s got to the point where I literally go to bed and dream about printed leather – I’ve got so much raw visual material buzzing round my head, so much inspiration from my paintings, that I can’t wait until I have time to start designing. It’s going to be exciting to take the paintings that have been the focus of my life for such a long time and do something completely different with them.
Are there any other projects that you are currently working on?
I’m writing a lot, which is something I’ve always done, and I’m really looking forward to seeing how this develops. Perhaps most excitingly of all though, I’m at the very early stages of realising a long-held dream, and I’m learning how to make shoes. I’ve wanted to do it for so long that I’m bubbling over with excitement about it.
What are your plans for the future?
I’m looking forward to the point when things have settled down and I’m still painting enough to make a living, but also have more freedom to do other things, like write and get back into textile design. I’m really starting to crave a bit of variety now.
Looking back – is there a significant moment in your career development that stands out?
Other than my solo show selling out at the private view, which was a bit surreal, I think Texprint really was the major highlight of my career development so far. I was at New Designers when I got the phone call saying I’d been selected and I honestly nearly fell down the stairs with excitement. I think the best thing for me about Texprint was that Grayson Perry, who is one of my absolute heroes, was a judge. As someone who’s work traverses fine art and textiles, he was heaven sent, and finding out he’d selected me as the winner of the Interior Textiles prize was one of the happiest moments of my life. I gained so much confidence and self-awareness from Texprint, and I’m hugely grateful for that experience.
Advice for those about to graduate this year?
Don’t worry if your work seems different from other graduates– my portfolio stuck out like a sore thumb and I felt like a rackety art student compared to the professionalism of everyone else, but I think that actually stood me in good stead in the end. If you get negative feedback, like I did from the man who told me I’d never make any money because I was an artist not a designer, don’t be disheartened: hidden in that feedback there might be a really good bit of advice. Don’t be rigid, and be prepared to do stuff that wasn’t quite what you had in mind; you honestly never know where it’s going to end up.
The most important thing though is to enjoy the whole process of graduating – New Designers, Graduate Fashion Week, job interviews – talk to people and have fun; people respond really well to enthusiasm, and I really believe that conveying your love of what you do is almost as important as the work itself.
2009: Nancy with Interiors prize judge Grayson Perry
Jane Coffey: passing on her studio-building experience
20 June 2013 by Editor
Working on the assumption that learning from someone else’s experience can both fast track success and help avoid costly mistakes, Texprint is piloting a new Hero Mentor initiative in 2013. This informal scheme will link successful Texprint alumni with those Texprint 2013 designers who wish to work freelance or establish their own businesses.
One shining example of a successful textile-based business is screen printer Jane Coffey. Sadly Jane won’t be participating in the Hero Mentor scheme as for some years now she has lived in Australia!
Jane graduated from the RCA and was selected for Texprint in 1999. She says: “Being selected for Texprint took me by surprise, it was such an amazing opportunity to show my work at Indigo. Now as a business owner I look back and realise that due to inexperience I probably didn't fully maximise the opportunity. So my message to all Texprint designers is to work hard and develop your portfolio of work because if successful at Indigo the contacts made can really help in launching your own studio.”
What happened next?
When I left the Royal College of Art I had a lot of money to pay back! My first job was with a CAD/CAM textile company (now Lectra) where I learnt how to use software and drew illustrations of clothing and accessories for Burberry - dog coats and lots of checks! As it turns out I loved working with technology and ended up teaching other designers how to use the CAD systems, taking my new skills into different workplaces and meeting many different designers - invaluable later for my own business where knowledge of digital printers and systems became really important.
I then worked as a designer for Peagreen Studio who exhibit and sell at Indigo and other trade shows.
However I always hankered after running my own business. I met my husband Adam, an engineer, in Winchester and we moved to Australia in 2005. There weren't many design companies in Perth so we decided to set up our own – our first studio was called Little Design Horse. Australia has grants for export development and we travelled around the world selling our design work.
We always wanted to create our own products so we gradually started buying machines. Every year a certain amount of profit from selling textile design went into buying new equipment. Our first was a 4-colour rotary screen printer for printing T-shirts – as our studio had a shop space at the front, so we opened the doors and started selling T-shirts that we'd printed (in the garage!). We had our first child in 2008 and that prompted us to start making more of our own products and we've never looked back.
Exhibiting and selling our products at local markets was a really important step for us and helped us find our customers. The website came later.
In the UK we're noting a move towards smaller designer/makers buying machinery and setting up their own businesses. Is this a because of the web, that it's now easier to become an e-tailer rather than suffer rent costs? Is it about independence and flexibility? Is it about provenance and customers wanting local product?
Yes to all these points. What I would point out though is that while the web allows you to sell overseas more easily, never underestimate your local market. Over time we've come to realise that we have a strong local following and these are the really important people. As is being inspired by what's around you. People like to buy something that makes them feel proud of where they live or to show off where they have visited. Selling independently means you don't have to follow trends or answer to big department stores. That's a huge freedom that you have to take advantage of.
As for retail costs, our shop/workshop Future Shelter is under one roof so is more economical. We made the move from textile studio to retailer very slowly over four years allowing time for our shop to be discovered without solely relying on a retail income. We have a bench behind the counter where we make or package products while the customer decides to buy - customers actually love this and it means our overheads are lower.
What is your set up in the studio?
In our workshop we currently have a large format digital printer, 4-colour rotary T-shirt press and screen printing facilities, a laser cutter, industrial sewing machines, a woodworking section with lots of tools big and small including a CNC cutter, and many custom built machines to make different products such as the coasters. Our latest machine is a digital ceramic decal printer and a kiln. I’m so lucky that Adam is an engineer who loves to work with all these things!
What are the difficulties you've encountered - what are the pluses?
The big plus is that I have my dream set up. We love the design and manufacturing sides, and bringing these under one roof allows us to learn about waste and test products in small batches before committing to bigger runs. This means we can be more experimental with design and not be frozen by feeling the need to follow the current trend.
Our main difficulties have been with outsourcing sewing or sometimes finding the ideal raw materials. Other difficulties have been keeping up with demand. We have purposely kept marketing to a minimum to allow us to grow slowly. This has been a really important as even with this idea of 'slow cooking' a brand and letting it naturally grow, we have a crunch time around Christmas getting orders out the door in time.
Scaling up too quickly can be a big problem if you don't plan it properly. We are right on the borderline of needed a bigger industrial space which means leasing two spaces, one retail and one industrial. Having a spilt site means needing more staff to cover the shop and production, finding the right space at the right price near public transport for your staff etc. So our next move will be a big one – and that has to be timed just right!
Another big difficulty has to be running your business with a small family - it's not easy juggling everything. I have a portable workspace in my sketchbook!
Many thanks Jane, and finally, what does the future hold?
We do a small amount of commission work for architects and private homes which is fun, so who knows where that will take us.
We need a bigger workshop and ultimately we’d like to build a workshop with a residence above or nearby - oh, and a fabric printer would complete our array of machines very nicely!
Emma J Shipley: out of this world storytelling
12 May 2013 by Editor
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
Texprint talks: Emma Mawston of Liberty Art Fabrics
25 April 2013 by Editor
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
Breaking boundaries: Texprint 2012’s mixed media specialists
24 November 2012 by
For a unique approach to textile design, many new designers are breaking down boundaries and embracing other media in their work. Texprint’s 2012 showcase revealed four young people who are taking this path to carve out a truly individual style.
Winner of the Texprint Space prize, Tania Knuckey explores the intersection between art and design. She uses many different types of media and techniques revealing a lively and playful attitude. Tania’s painterly and experimental work is often very graphic and evolves in an organic way, encompassing both installation and work for interiors.
Tania Knuckey: chair installation
Tania recently showed some of her chair pieces at The Stables Gallery in Richmond, Surrey: her installation changed on a weekly basis through wrapping new mixed media fabrics around the pieces. She also gave a recent talk on the subject of transforming textiles into animations at the Slow Textiles Group’s studio in Hampstead, London, as well as exhibiting a concept book, created in collaboration with RCA architecture graduate Joseph Deane, at the RCA’s Sustain show.
Neckpieces by Lily Kamper
The enormous BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Hindu temple in Neasden, North London, was one of the main inspirations for Lily Kamper’s distinctive work. The hand carved totem columns taken as a reference that she combined with softer elements in her multi-layered processes. Lily creates fresh ideas for fashion accessories, including fabulously futuristic statement jewellery pieces and bags.
Case with Perspex handle by Lily Kamper
She is fascinated by the possibilities of exploring texture and colour; a favourite theme is combining hard and soft materials to create unusual outcomes, as seen in her recent collaboration with men’s footwear designer, Tariq Mahmoud, where she created the Perspex heels. Lily also recently created the bespoke, hand-made trophies for WGSN’s recent Global Fashion Awards 2012.
Knitted textile by Sarah Burton.
Sarah Burton’s exciting contemporary pieces for fashion combine her passion for knitwear with modern embellishment. Sarah loves the process of knitting and constantly plays with construction techniques, continuing to develop her samples in unusual ways. Favourite materials include fine yet strong yarns such as viscose. Sarah’s inspirational research led her to study the traditions of the circus, looking closely at costume for performance, which demands a mix of the practical and the decorative. Sarah is taking up an exciting new position with Acorn Conceptual Textiles based in Nottingham, in addition to developing a small range of hand-made mixed media accessories.
Embellished woven textile by Alix Massieux.
Finally, fantasy and surrealism are aspects that inspired Alix Massieux’s fabric collection. Although a weave specialist, Alix is driven to mix techniques and experiment with embroidery. Targeting a high-end market, she uses fine yarns such as mercerised cotton and silk, but is also intent on injecting an element of fun into her work, using flashes of Lurex to create vibrant, light-hearted effects.
Pattern Masters: Texprint 2012 print specialists
30 October 2012 by
The Texprint 2012 showcase included nine outstanding printed textile designers, reflecting the strong continuing trend for dynamic pattern, in both contemporary fashion and interiors.
Winner of the Texprint Award for Pattern,Ying Wu has entranced many people since her RCA graduation this summer with her captivatingly original prints. Her inspirations stem from her Chinese heritage and its legends, reflecting a very original and personal narrative; her most recent work imagines nightmarish future scenarios where the natural environment has been devastated, and creatures must find new ways to survive. At Texprint London in July, Ying met, and has since collaborated with, Italian company De Le Cuona; she was also invited to participate in a ‘pop-up shop’ at Paul Smiths’ flagship store in London during September’s London Fashion Week. Further exciting collaborations are emerging, in what is proving to be a dynamic start to Ying’s career.
The vibrant and colourful work of Manri Kishimoto ensured her success as winner of the Texprint Award for Colour, sponsored by Pantone, and as a joint winner of the inaugural Lululemon Texprint Award. Manri’s work is instantly striking - the bold, expressive and graphic shapes of her story-telling designs are inspired by nature, particularly bird motifs. She uses many substrates for her print and multi-media work including knit, leather, silk weave and fine silk mesh. One of the highlights of her display at Texprint London was the large scale swan motif encusted with Swarovski crystals.
Israel Parra- Zanabria
Embracing vibrant colour in a very different way, the work of Israel Parra-Zanabria is inspired by the colours and buzz of his native Mexico City. Israel uses a variety of media, including watercolour, pro markers and pencil to achieve a masterful delicacy and softness to his beautiful depictions of exotic flowers, combining both screen printing and hand painting to translate design to fabric.
Fergus Dowling’s distinctive work is currently inspired by decorative heraldic imagery. Fergus is drawn to the Rococo and Baroque periods; he is inspired by the highly detailed design and imagery of family crests which he deconstructs and then reinvents to create newly contemporary and personal patterns. These, plus his use of reinvented traditional tartans, vibrant colour, and luxurious fabrics, gives his work an elegant gentleman-like mood.
Laura Barnes’ love of drawing and the decorative arts is very apparent in her richly coloured and elegant work. Her wonderfully vibrant sketches and designs are inspired by travel, especially recent trips to Morocco and Spain, and reveal her passion for colour and story-telling. She previously won a scholarship, which enabled her to undertake an exciting and visually stimulating cultural exchange visit to South Korea.
Trinity Mitchell’s fresh, quirky and slightly retro designs were originally inspired by a YouTube video of 1950’s women trying on sunglasses. Her prints have since developed into a celebration of the small, feminine and often quietly humorous details that reflect her eclectic and light-hearted approach to fashion fabrics and headscarf design.
Alice Howard- Graham
Architecture, photography and Russian Constructivism have inspired Alice Howard-Graham’s striking and dynamic work. Using her passion for photographic manipulation yet retaining a hand-drawn quality, Alice employs motifs developed from industrial and mechanical imagery, exploring the potential of both traditional screen-printing and digital methods in her work.
Geometric patterns, maps of the world, celestial charts, strong colour, Pop Art, vintage photos and animals are just some of the eclectic starting points used by David Warner to create his individual take on contemporary fashion textiles and wallcoverings. Quirky, layered designs mix English country traditions with gay culture to create statement placements and allovers.
Amber Sambrook plays with techniques such as laser cutting, and materials such as leather to give her fashion fabrics and accessories their unique and unexpected handle and finish. Her most recent work is dramatic and powerful, inspired by the weather and its changing atmospheric conditions. Contrasts of light and dark, and richly moody patterns suggesting storm clouds are achieved using techniques such as ombre and devôré.
The variety and vibrancy of these emerging talents ensure some exciting new directions for the future of printed textile design.
In my experience: Grace Smith
01 August 2012 by
Grace Ink: Quirky Doll Family
Grace Smith (Texprint 2007) runs her own business, GraceInk Design in the Scottish Borders. A screen printing fanatic, she creates her own quirky textile and paper products, selling them online through her Etsy.com shop, as well as in small independent stores and at craft fairs. In addition, she helps to run screen-printing workshops and is chairperson of the Crossing Borders arts collective. Grace talks to Texprint about her hectic but fulfilling lifestyle as a designer-maker.
Running my own business is great - but I never switch off.
It’s amazing to do a job that is just part of life, that makes you smile and that you enjoy getting up for in the morning. But it isn’t without downsides. I seem to be working 365 days a year, even on holiday - it is like my baby. I have also started running screen printing workshops which are proving really popular.
Downsides include the dreaded Tax Return.
I try to keep on top of it all and not let administrative stuff build up. Hopefully one day, I’ll earn enough to employ other talented people to do it for me.
Grace Ink: 4 Dolls Paper Print
I’m chairperson of the Crossing Borders collective.
The organisation runs an Art Trail every September, which I’m involved with. Many artists and craftspeople in the Borders area open their studios to the public.
I’m inspired by my beautiful surroundings, travel and different cultures around the world.
Setting up my own business has been very time consuming, and financially difficult, so a lot of my travel is now a lot closer to home, but this still provides inspiration. Living in the Scottish Borders, around lovely, rolling green hills is very calming for the mind, and provides clarity when working on new ideas. It is very important for me to be in a creative environment and working alongside 13 other artists in a studio really helps me to get inspired.
I’m in love with the screen printing process.
Screen printing is very versatile, allowing very intricate hand drawn designs to be transferred to fabric and paper – most of the time without having to use a computer. Achieving brush strokes and pen lines on fabric really gives a special handmade quality, which can be lost with many modern processes. I love the first reveal of a new screen print - there is a real buzz of excitement.I’m also very fond of linen and linen mix fabrics, which I use a lot in my work. My birdcage design is a firm favourite – I created it at university, but it hasn’t lost any of its appeal in the five years since then. It’s ended up on pretty much every product I produce.
Grace Ink: Birdcage Print Bag detail
I’m passionate about my work and teaching.
I love to teach - it’s a great feeling when my students have learnt something and had an enjoyable time too. Meeting new people and talking about what I do for a living, is great - I can get quite over-excited at times!
Texprint was invaluable at the start of my career.
I remember receiving the phone call to say I’d been selected. It was a surreal moment where I believe I asked ‘are you sure?’ It made me realise that I had created a collection that was appreciated, and that all the hard work that I’d put into my time at university was finally paying off. I was given the fantastic opportunity to take up a work placement in New Delhi, India. This provided me with lots of new inspiration, and I doubt I would be on the path I am currently without this.
Grace Ink: printed cushions
I’m planning expansion for my business – and maybe a road trip around Scotland.
I’m currently looking into licensing certain designs and also expanding the scope of retail outlets that I work with. I’d love to do some more travelling at some point and possibly work alongside artisans in Australia or my ultimate goal - Japan. I also want to produce some work inspired by Scotland and do a road trip at some point. I have a map that my Gran produced when she was about my age, of a road trip she did around Scotland. I would love to recreate that.
My advice to new graduates is: get some experience, apply for everything and never say no.
(Well for the first few months anyway.) Then you can be pickier with what you agree to… When I first started out, I’d done a couple of years of exploring, trying different things, seeing what I wanted to do with my life. Just after graduation is the best time to do this. When I set up in business I just assumed that I would be successful but the last three years has taught me that this is definitely not an easy task. I’ve felt like giving up on countless occasions, but I’m lucky to have family and friends who pick me up when things don’t go the way I intend. Most of the time I love it - my days are busy, varied and interesting.
Texprint London: four prize winners chosen by industry luminaries
18 July 2012 by
Texprint London - the must-see presentation of the best new graduate textile designers from the UK – took place July 11-13, 2012 at Chelsea College of Art’s Triangle Building.
Press, fashion and textile industry guests turned out in force to support and encourage the 24 successful designers.Texprint’s chairman, Barbara Kennington said: “This was undoubtedly our most successful and buzzy Texprint London show to date, the feedback overall was terrific, which bodes well for future support.”
Judges Sheree Waterson & Paul Stamper veiw the work
Four world-renowned decision makers and designers in the fields of fashion and design selected the winners of four special prizes at the event:Caroline Burstein, creative director at Browns Fashion; textile designer Neisha Crosland; Paul Stamper, senior designer at Renault Design; and Sheree Waterson, executive vice president and chief product officer for Vancouver based sportswear company Lululemon Athletica.
Selection of work by Ying Wu
Ying Wufrom the Royal College of Art scooped the Pattern prize for her highly imaginative work. Ying’s latest pieces are fantastic visual projections of a world where the environment has been polluted and almost destroyed. Her nightmare scenarios remain beautifully colourful and decorative despite their dark content, creating fascinating and thought-provoking artistic textile pieces.
Knitted structure by Carlo Volpi
Knitwear specialist Carlo Volpi, also from the RCA, was the judge’s unanimous choice to receive the Body prize. Carlo’s great sense of colour, texture and 3D structure mixed with a light-hearted sense of fun made an impression on many visitors.
Beaded textile design by Manri Kishimoto
Also commanding much attention,Manri Kishimoto from Central St Martins College of Art & Design won the Colour prize for her bold, graphic and distinctive printed and mixed media work. Manri is inspired by nature and by birds in particular. Her work is often based on stories and features striking motifs and wonderfully detailed beaded embellishment and appliqué.
Tania Knuckey embellished leather
Finally, Tania Grace Knuckey from the RCA won the Space prize, given for the best textiles for use in interiors. The judges were impressed with Tania’s versatility and the wide variety of materials she has explored in her work including many fabric bases, leather and metal.
The prize winners each win a £1,000 prize, courtesy of prize sponsors The Clothworkers’ Foundation, Liberty Art Fabrics and Pantone X-Rite.
In my experience: Susie Foster
16 June 2012 by
Susie Foster (Texprint 2010) is a freelance textile designer, specialising in mixed media. Drawing is the foundation of her practice and her delicate, sensitive pencil studies are often snapped up in their own right. Here Susie shares her insights into launching a career in design:
I work on a lot of different projects at one time.
I’ve created new prints for the Surtex fabric exhibition in New York. I’m developing needle punched fabrics for the spring/summer 2012/13 collection for menswear designer Manish Bansal. And I am working on accessories ideas with Sandra Murray, a Scottish designer I met at [textile design show] Indigo, Paris. I’ve also just designed a greetings card for the Barbican shop.
Susie Foster pleated textile detail
Being a freelance designer isn’t an easy option.
I feel incredibly lucky to be doing something I enjoy. Although there are some low moments, there are great days too and that’s what keeps me going. It can be tough staying positive and motivated but I was prepared for that - it’s a really competitive industry.
It’s hard to switch off.
Working as a freelancer means there can be a lot of uncertainty, which can be stressful. I’m glad I’m not on the nine to five treadmill, but it can be really difficult to switch off and take a break, especially if you live and work in one location. There’s also all the non-creative work that comes with being self-employed, dealing with tax, chasing payments etc, luckily my sister is a tax adviser, which helps.
Susie Foster: printed and pleated textile.
A typical day is a varied mix of the creative and the necessary.
I try to get a balance of the less interesting bits (invoices, emails etc) and the creative side (drawing, making, research etc). I enjoy the freedom and variety; it’s great to be in charge of your own time and to work on a range of projects. I like new challenges and working with different people, it’s exciting - and keeps you moving forward.
I’m inspired by nature, artists and the unexpected.
My inspiration can come from something quite unexpected but most frequently it’s found in nature. I find the patterns, processes and structures of the natural world are a never-ending source of inspiration. Also, the work of artists such as Antony Gormley, Bridget Riley, Mark Rothko, Eva Hesse, Andy Goldsworthy, Louise Bourgeois… it’s an endless list!
Susie Foster insect drawing
I love drawing and experimenting with materials and varied techniques.
During my MA studies at the RCA I started to explore scale, creating larger pieces, considering new ways of making and thinking a lot more broadly. I also started working with needle punching and it’s remained a favourite technique. I think it has a lot of potential still to be explored and I like that process of continual discovery. I still try to draw every day - it’s crucial to my textile work but it would be great to start exhibiting and selling pieces as an artist.
My Texprint experience in 2010 was hugely beneficial.
It was fantastic being chosen for Texprint. Just from the interview I got some great feedback and advice and made a contact that led to the sale of two large pieces from my portfolio. To show at Indigo was invaluable; I sold four pieces and met people that I continue to work with now.
Susie Foster: embroidery design for menswear designer Manish Bansal. Far right: butterfly pencil study
My plan is to keep going and keep the variety in my work.
I want to continue with my collaborative work for fashion and also to sell print designs. It would be amazing to work at couture level, where practicality is less of an issue and there’s more opportunity for elaborate and experimental textiles. I’d love to see my fabrics on a McQueen or Vivienne Westwood catwalk!
I’m working on some more of my own interior art pieces and developing my origami collages for print. I’d love to work with the Rug Company to produce designs for interiors. I’d also like to devote more time to drawing as an end in itself. I’ve been involved with teaching and community arts projects too and that’s something I also want to do more of.
Textile graduates need to persevere.
New graduates need to realise that it might take a long time to get where you want to be - but you can enjoy the journey and learn a lot along the way.
Tamasyn Gambell: dynamic prints and ethical practices
27 May 2012 by
Tamasyn Gambell (Texprint 2005) has turned her passion for printed textiles into a successful, rewarding and ethical business. Her dynamic prints are strong and versatile, and are relevant for both fashion and interiors. Based in London’s Clerkenwell, she hand prints much of her work herself. Tamasyn began her career in Paris, moving there shortly after exhibiting with Texprint at Indigo, Paris, where many of her initial contacts were made.
What drew you to specialise in print?
I have always been attracted to pattern and colour. The first time I screen-printed I was hooked. I love the physicality of it, and the way you can change a surface so instantly.
Are there particular qualities needed for this discipline?
You need a good sense of scale, colour, layout and pattern. You have to be patient as the set up can be a lengthy process and things often go wrong. It’s also quite mathematical when designing the repeat.
How have you found working as a designer running your own business?
I have really enjoyed it. It’s been a fantastic challenge and you are constantly learning things. There are definite pitfalls and financial struggles at times – down sides are the long hours and the late payers. But ultimately it’s really rewarding – to know you have been responsible for everything you achieve. I love having the freedom to explore my own designs. I found working for other people very limiting – I have a very clear idea of what I want to produce.
Tamasyn Gambell scarves
What are you working on now?
I am currently working on two collaborative projects. The first is with the accessory brand Cherchbi – I am designing and printing tweed for their beautifully hand-made bags [autumn/winter 2012 menswear range]. Also I have designed and printed the fabric for a range of re-upholstered mid-century Scandinavian furniture pieces, cushions and lampshades being sold in the wonderful new shop: Forest, London.
What inspires you?
I spent some time in Sweden and I was really inspired by the clean graphic prints, bold colours and shapes found in design and architecture. Their sense of balance, and form really made an impression on me. This way of working, combined with a love for strong tribal patterns really informs my design work.
Tamasyn Gambell notebooks
Favourite materials and techniques?
Screen-printing is my favourite technique. I love working with silks, wools and linens - really rich fabrics that absorb dyes and pigments and produce lovely radiant colours.
You are very committed to ethical practices - do you think it’s still slow progress in this area for fashion and textiles?
It’s definitely gaining momentum. People are so much more informed now than they were even five years ago. It’s going to be slow to reach all areas of the market - but high- and mid-end brands are making a lot of positive changes. I believe ethical practices will continue to be adopted and gain a powerful presence over the next decade.
Can you describe a typical day?
I cycle to the print studio in south London – usually arriving at 9am. I change into my boiler suit and begin preparing the screens and the table for a day of screen-printing. There are always new designs, fabrics or products to print. The space is shared with other print designers and small businesses so it’s great to be surrounded by creativity. I work with my assistant, usually printing until about 5pm - then I will cycle back east and continue to work on emails, planning, deliveries and orders until 7 or 8pm.
Highlights of your career so far?
Getting to see my work on the Sonia Rykiel catwalk. Selling my work at the Tate was also a massive highlight for me. My father and I used to love going to exhibitions there together - it was one of our little rituals. He passed away before I set up my own business, so having my work on sale in the Tate Gallery shop was a very poignant moment for me.
Plans for the future?
I am exhibiting at Tent, London and I’m planning some new homeware accessories for this exhibition. I would like to continue to collaborate with other designers, learning from each other and sharing ideas. Longer term, I would love to work with Ercol and design prints for their beautiful furniture!
Advice for those about to graduate?
Enjoy it! Experiment and take opportunities as and when they come. I’ve learned that it can be equally valuable to learn what you don’t want to do as much as what you do.
New Horizons: Alydia Cooper, Holly Holmes and Georgia Dorey
22 April 2012 by
Embroidery and print specialist Alydia Cooper has been very busy since her time with Texprint in 2011. Alydia has created new work including her Under the Sea collection featuring a new range of sea animals depicted in her distinctive, decorative style. She says: “I exhibited at the Knitting and Stitching Shows in Harrogate and Dublin as part of their graduate showcase at the end of 2011. I decided to aim some of my collection towards the childrenswear market and have spent time contacting children’s nurseries and other outlets. More recently, I exhibited at [needlework show] L'Aiguille-en-Fête in Paris in February 2012, as well as continuing to work on special commissions – I’ve done bespoke chair covers and cushions for interiors.” Alydia found her Texprint experience beneficial in many ways, as she explains: “During Indigo, Paris, Agnes B bought three of my designs which gave me great confidence because it proved there was a place in the market for my work. Every part of the Texprint programme was amazing from the interview stage right through toshowing in Paris. I loved the Need to Know pack that we were all given. It has been extremely helpful with every bit of information we could need from sales to copyright terms etc. It was great to have the opportunity to talk to potential international clients and seeing how they would translate my designs.”
Holly Holmes print design work
Talented printed textile designer Holly Holmes was one of the first of 2011’s group to land a great first job. While exhibiting with Texprint, she was interviewed for a design position with Hodgesellers - a textile studio in London. Holly was selected for the job and says: “My current position as textile designer and screen printer within the studio is very satisfying. I have learnt so much already, since starting in September 2011 - I am really enjoying myself and I feel very lucky.” Holly’s fresh, vibrant style is defined by her confident use of colour and pattern. Successful under Texprint’s banner in Indigo, Paris, she sold some of her designs to both Italian and British fashion companies. Holly says: “It was such a privilege being part of Texprint, getting to meet lots of industry insiders as well as the other graduates. It was really great to get feedback on my work from so many different people – all the information given by the Texprint team was truly invaluable.”
Georgia Dorey, Texprint 2011
Finally, print specialist Georgia Dorey is continuing her studies – currently working towards her MA at the RCA. Georgia says: “My time at the RCA so far has been wonderful. Looking back on my Texprint experience, it was totally fantastic. Being chosen was a massive confidence boost for me at a time when I was just coming to the end of my degree and starting to feel quite scared about the future. Texprint London was a great opportunity to practice my networking skills and to build confidence when talking about my work to others. The time in between London and Indigo Paris was a fantastic incentive to carry on my creative work over the summer. Exhibiting in Paris was an amazing opportunity and I am so thankful for all the Texprint team for making it all possible. I found the first day of selling in Paris quite hard - it sometimes felt like everyone around you was selling design work and you weren’t. But then on the second day I sold nine design samples to Agnes B, as well as two samples and two illustrations to a Belgium-based company the following day, with both companies wanting me to continue to work for them in the future. Texprint taught me an invaluable amount – much of which will see me through the rest of my career.”
Paris Fashion Week: Chloe Hamblin for Roland Mouret
15 March 2012 by Editor
Chloe Hamblin (winner of the Texprint 2011 Colour Award) is now working as a surface designer at Roland Mouret, having first made contact with the designer at the Texprint Village at Indigo/Première Vision last September 2011. Read more...
Mouret’s signature modern lines and origami folds were softened for his autumn/winter 2012 collection by Chloe’s subtly manipulated snow leopard print. A most successful debut design, we love it.
Texprint and Marks & Spencer collaboration: Patterns of the Future
06 March 2012 by
In an exciting collaboration with Foundation Sponsor Marks & Spencer, print designs by three of the designers selected for Texprint 2011 are being used in women’s fashion and bedding collections under the banner Patterns of the Future which launched at its Marble Arch, London flagship store and online during London Fashion Week in February 2012.
Instigated by Kate Bostock, M&S executive director for general merchandise, the project is a first for Texprint, and the embodiment of Texprint’s goal to make mutually constructive introductions between new design talent and forward thinking brands and retailers.
Geri Tilly, Annette Browne and Neil Hendy of Marks & Spencer reviewing the work
M&S’s head of design for brands Helen Low and head of womenswear Neil Hendy visited Texprint London in July 2011 where they were impressed by the work of Texprint’s 2011 print designers. A group of the designers were invited to M&S head office where the team shortlisted three - Toni Lake, Beth Pryor and Carol Pau - with the aim of taking their designs from paper to its customers’ wardrobes.
From the three, Toni Lake’s sumptuous drawings have been printed – by M&S supplier and Texprint supporter ATT Concorde – and used in an exclusive range for M&S within its Autograph and Limited Collections. Read more about Toni here.
The Autograph range features two of Toni’s kaleidoscope-style drawings in a knee-length shift dress and a maxi dress, while the Limited Collection presents Toni’s swan designs in a T-shirt, a tunic dress and a zip-fronted knee-length dress. One of these pieces is to feature in an edition of the Mail on Sunday’s YOU magazine on March 11, 2012. Toni says of her latest commercial success: “I think the garments look fantastic and I now see the prints from a different perspective. Seeing the final pieces has made me so proud.”
Further print designs by the selected designers are expected to feature in M&S’s product ranges spring and autumn 2012. Beth Pryor has also enjoyed a five-week work placement with the company. Beth says: “I had a great time learning new skills and working in a professional studio environment with such wonderful teams.”
The designs of Toni and fellow Texprint designer Carol Pau are to feature on dynamic bed linens in the Home range and will be widely available through M&S stores.
Andrew Stevenson’s sprint start to a career in textiles
28 February 2012 by
Andrew Stevenson has enjoyed continued success since he graduated from the RCA in 2010. Andrew scooped both the Texprint Interior Fashion Prize and the Chairman’s Prize that year. Andrew landed his first design job at Paul Smith, and last February he moved on to take up an exciting opportunity as a fabric designer for the prestigious Tom Ford brand.
How did you secure your current position with Tom Ford?
A designer at the Yorkshire mill, Hield Bros Ltd, put me in touch with the fabric director at Tom Ford as they were looking for someone new to join the design team. I was interviewed there in February last year - and they offered me the job!
Andrew Stevenson textile detail
What does your job involve?
I am the fabric research designer for womenswear. The role allows me to work creatively within the design team to develop new and exciting fabrics. The team is very small and I am involved in all aspects of fabric research for both the ready-to-wear range and special projects.
Can you describe a typical day at work?
It depends on the time of year - every week is different and I am never bored! Usually there is a lot of work to do at the start of each season preparing mood boards and researching new ideas, as well as working on special projects for celebrities. I usually come to the studio most days and I’m involved with meeting suppliers and selecting fabrics with the design director, preparing for meetings with Mr Ford and working on the colour palette for each season. A lot of the job involves helping to design new prints and jacquard weaves for the collection. During show time it is very full-on - helping with the final fashion show. My favourite aspects include travelling, visiting fabric archives, working on colour and of course designing. It’s a very demanding industry which includes a lot of late nights and weekends... but at the moment I’m not complaining – it’s very exciting and a lot of fun!
Andrew Stevenson sketchbook and research
What inspires you in your work?
I am often drawn to favourite artists such as Matisse and Hockney as well being inspired by film, photography, antique and vintage fabrics and unusual colour combinations.
Choosing textiles as a career.
I started off doing fashion design in my Foundation year, but soon realised that I was really drawn to fabric and constructed textiles. I then specialised in weave for my degree at Duncan of Jordanstone in Scotland; fascinated with constructing cloth and the possibilities of texture and colour. As well as learning the technical aspects of design for weave, there was also a lot of emphasis on drawing and experimental mark making, which I found really opens you up, developing your technique. Then, the MA at the RCA was a whole new world... completely different to going to going to art school in Scotland. At MA level it is a lot more intense and focused – so I really pushed both weave and print design. Great tutorial support and ‘live’ projects helped me to design in a considered and intellectual way.
What qualities are needed for a successful career in textiles?
I think you need to have a good sense of colour, scale and composition to really visualise a small drawing, photo or design and see it as a garment or interior or art piece. I chose to specialise in textiles for fashion as I find it fascinating to see how a print or woven textile will emerge as a garment - and how it looks on the body.
Andrew Stevenson receiving the Chairman's Prize from Sir Stuart Rose of M&S in 2010
What have been the significant moments or events in your career so far?
Being accepted into the RCA, and winning a scholarship from the Worshipful Company of Weavers really helped me to make contacts - which led to jobs. A further significant moment was being selected for Texprint – as this really gave me a lot of experience in exhibiting and selling my own work in both Paris and Hong Kong. It really enhanced my understanding of the marketplace and the different levels in the industry.
Advice to new graduates?
Work HARD, focus on what you love - and prepare a diverse portfolio, with different projects, clearly presented. Target your market as soon as you can in order to gain work placements and jobs or to set up your own business.
Plans for the future?
I would really like to stay at Tom Ford - it is an amazing team and I would love to be part of the company as it grows. I love what I’m doing right now – and maybe in the future... to be the creative director of a brand.
What Texprint means to me: Lisa Stannard
18 February 2012 by
Designer and illustrator Lisa Stannard credits her Texprint experience in 2009 as being the catalyst for setting up her own business. Lisa, who won the Texprint Colour Prize that year, cites her inspirations as: nature, people, 1970s Pucci, Japanese artists and fashion, and fashion photography. Lisa’s versatile and sensitive graphic style, effortlessly encompasses printed textiles and fashion illustration.
What did you gain from the Texprint programme?
I don’t think that I would have had the confidence to set up on my own if it wasn’t for Texprint. Not only did we receive great advice on becoming a self-employed designer, but the Texprint team offered impartial advice on our work, suggesting ways to improve it, as well as ideas for future projects. Before we exhibited at Indigo, Paris we were given advice on how to handle potential clients and how best to show your work to buyers. Another bonus was that I made some really good friends, who I remain in touch with to this day.
Lisa Stannard, feather print for LA based brand Whitney Eve, left, illustrated tote bag, centre, print design for Matthew Williamson, Spring 2011, right
Your career highlights so far?
Winning the Texprint Colour Prize was a great start, as it came with a donation from Pantone, Europe and the opportunity to exhibit my work in Hong Kong at Interstoff Asia Essential - which was an amazing experience. Setting up my own business was a major achievement after Texprint. I have learned so much about business while being challenged all the time by new clients and fresh projects. At times it has been really hard, and I have often wondered if I could get it all done – and whether I was running my business right... and then suddenly great things happened. I was lucky to gather amazing clients early on, who I then formed great relationships with. I’ve designed for ASOS, Miss Selfridge and Victoria’s Secret, as well as illustrating catwalk collections for Amelia’s Magazine, and for UK fashion chain Oasis’s style magazine in association with the creative design agency Mill Co.
Lisa Stannard print
I have developed a strong relationship with Whitney Eve, a LA based brand created by US TV personality and designer, Whitney Port. After working with the brand for some time now, I’ve recently accepted a position as a designer with the company based in LA. I contribute to the creative development of the brand, working closely with Whitney to achieve her vision - by helping to design the range, including all the print collections, the look book, tags and website artwork. The brand has a place at the runway shows at New York Fashion Week, held in the Lincoln Centre on February 15, 2012, and I’ve been there helping with the show – it’s all very exciting. I’m also proud to have been featured on Vogue.com last year, following a commission to illustrate Lily Allen’s debut fashion collection. I’ll maintain my online shop selling art prints and a limited T-shirt collection.
Lisa Stannard illustrations for the Lucy in Disguise debut collection as featured on Vogue.com
Key advice to new graduates?
Be optimistic, put yourself out there and meet new people and network.
Be prepared to work hard, most students I talk to (through my teaching work) can’t wait to graduate – thinking they will never have to do as much work again... but I tell them - this is where the hard work begins!
Do lots of internships with a variety of companies - I wish that I had done more while I was still at university. I interned at Matthew Williamson after graduating for three and a half months in 2010, and although I had to fund much of this myself, it was great, I came back to my own business feeling more confident and reassured in my profession - I learnt so much from everyone there.
Don’t lose your creativity, if you are thinking of going into business alone there is loads of admin and business development work to do which can take precious time away from designing... stay inspired!