Today we carry on hearing from those clever souls who are out there doing it for themselves. So to speak.
Here is the second of three posts full of sage advice gathered from 2013 conversations.
Really make the most of exploring textiles and materials whilst studying, as it is such a broad subject with so much potential. Make the most of any advice and opportunities you have to develop your professional practice too because it is so important in the ‘real world’.
As clichéd as it sounds, keep going, don’t give up at the first hurdle, keep forward thinking and developing through your experiences. Don’t ever compromise the thing that make your work the most individual, integrity of your ideas is your biggest asset.
Lesley from Hunt + Gather:
Be sure you know your market first- this can also be a surprise after you start, you might realize that the people buying your prints are not who you expected! I would say having working experience either in the industry as a textile designer for a home furnishings or fashion company or at a print studio is probably a must. I can't imagine jumping into this without any prior knowledge. I did a lot of looking and listening throughout the years working on the other side of things and attending the print shows either as a buyer or just checking out what was going on and I still learn something new every day.
Heather from Skinny LaMinx:
My own journey has been so unplanned, and has simply unfolded as opportunities have come up, I don't think I am qualified to give much more advice than to say that you should enjoy what you do, try your best to do it properly, and to be nice to people along the way.
Jane from Bailey Hills Print and Wool:
Firstly look around at everything else that is similar to what you want to do, and then try and think what you could do to make your work slightly different. I know this can be really hard but you need to try and have a point of difference. It's very important to have a starting point. Narrow things down to using a particular material or process. Use two materials together which haven't been seen before. Find something in your background or what you enjoy doing in your spare time and explore these themes using different drawing media, for instance. Once you've decided on a starting point, then take time to see where this leads and eventually you'll come across something interesting you will want to develop.
Secondly, network. Join groups that are relevant and make a real effort to be in places where you might find people who are interested in what you do. Find people who can help you, or can link you with people who can.
Lastly, be very determined. I've had lots of knock backs but you just have to believe in what you are trying to do , keep going and eventually you will realise you are making progress.
For me good design is like the proverbial tree in the woods that does or does not make a sound. If nobody knows it exists, it's not good design. Sometimes, if you find someone you want to work with, you just have to ask. And keep asking.
(If you want to get into licensing) Find manufacturers that others have not worked with yet. Licensing is such a great way for manufacturers to keep things new and fresh. Maybe there is someone out there that is not licensing now, but might learn the benefits from you.
Giving up is not an option if it is truly your passion. Make your work relevant. Picture it in a room, on a garment, whatever category that resonates with your aesthetic. Make your motifs unique and picture everything you design as a pattern that will become iconic like Houndstooth. Stay true to yourself and come up with descriptive words for your style. Then ask yourself if each and every piece you design passes the test. If it doesn’t, save it, until you can tweak it and make it work.
Joy from Seven Gauge Studios:
Learn as much as you can. If you're at college, get the best placements you can and ask your tutors everything you can. If you're not at college try as many different things as possible; find as many ways to learn as you can.
Enrol on a business course. Learn anything you can about the processes you're interested in. Use the internet. Research, network and mix with as many people as possible.
Work hard, be determined and don't give up!
Although you must be critical and aspirational, don't apologise for your work. Learning is a life-time journey and you are where you are.