Sarah Stevenson is the textile and clothing designer behind Sarah Stevenson Design, a beautiful line of luxury womenswear based in Canada. Sarah creates everything from print to finished garment, and was gracious enough to share some insights into her design background and work process.
1. How did you get into textile design? Have you always been interested in fashion or did you ever have a different career path in mind?
I’ve always loved fashion but I didn’t consider it until quite recently. I studied Psychology & Fine Arts in university and afterwards, while I was studying to be a therapist I realized that it wasn’t the right choice. I did a lot of soul searching & asked myself what my wildest dream job would be and I discovered that I wanted to be a designer – so I went back to school to study fashion. While I was learning about clothing design I felt like something was missing & I wanted to add more to my pieces. That’s when I became really interested in Textile Design & sought out an internship with Canadian Textile Designer Virginia Johnson. After college I applied for a Masters in Fashion & Textile Design in Milan, Italy and got it! It was there that my passion for textile design really emerged & over that year I developed my skills immensely.
It was a big risk to take and it definitely is not the most stable career but I followed my heart & it led me to where I am today.
2. Can you tell us a little about your design process? What is the most challenging part of the process for you? How about the most fun part?
I am an artist first and foremost so I always start working by hand – it feels the most organic to me. Sometimes I have an idea that I work towards & other times I just start drawing or painting and then build on it. From there I work in Photoshop and Illustrator to get my images ready to print onto fabric. The most fun part is seeing my art transferred onto the fabric – it is like Christmas morning!
3. What would you consider to be your most proud achievement so far?
Receiving the full scholarship to study my Masters in Fashion & Textile Design at the Istituto Europeo di Design & having my work recognized & appreciated by international fashion editors & celebrities.
4. What is the atmosphere/energy like in your studio? Frantic? Zen? Is your workspace messy or does it stay neat and organized?
When I’m painting it can get messy – but thats part of the process. You have to allow yourself to let your guard down & run away with your ideas. It is the only way I know how to work & I can’t imagine being creative without getting my hands dirty! The atmosphere is pretty relaxed – I always listen to great music while I work which really helps me to get in the mood.
(A few shots taken around Sarah’s studio–design books, a calendar, fabric swatches and some of her dresses.)
5. What music is usually playing in your studio?
I have a very eclectic taste in music & I’m always updating my playlists with new artists. Lately I’ve been listening a lot to The Lumineers, Vampire Weekend, The XX, The Drums, Of Monsters & Men & Patrick Kelly.
6. What are your favorite sources for design inspiration? Favorite print & pattern trends?
Sources come from literally everywhere! Nature never has a shortage of inspiration to draw from but I take inspiration from anything that moves me! For Spring/Summer 2013 I was really inspired my Moroccan culture & I wanted to reinterpret their ceramics. I think when you look at it you can see a nod to that culture but I took it apart & reconstructed it in a way that is completely my own.
7. Do you have any advice for aspiring designers hoping to break into the textile field?
Put yourself into your work – change it up and do something different! Have your own point of view – its great to take inspiration from other textile designers but find a way to then reinterpret it and make it your own!
I was so inspired by Sarah’s answers and her decision to take a risk and follow her true passion! She is currently working on building up her freelance textile design business and seeking representation for her prints. You can see more of Sarah’s fabulous work at her website.