What It Means To Be A Textile Designer

What does it mean to be a textile designer?

As I was updating The Ultimate Guide to Repeats, this question was at the forefront of my mind. My goal for the course was to welcome designers from other markets such as surface design, graphic design and illustration, to the industry. There are plenty of books and e-courses out there explaining the business side, but what’s up with the artwork? I wanted to share what small changes designers can apply to their artwork to make it more professional and appealing to manufacturers.

But beyond that, I wanted to share the passion that we textile designers feel about our industry, our artwork, our beautiful, wonderful patterns and fabrics.

So…I turned the question over to you–the wonderful readers, students and friends of Pattern Observer and I fell in LOVE with your responses. Here are a few of my favorites:

What does it mean to be a textile designer?

“I feel connected with the world’s history as being a part of one of the oldest artistic traditions known to man.”- Aaryn Nutter of Aaryn West Design Studio

“It’s a different way of looking at things, especially when you are considering the end result, and the product it is going to be on. It is a kind of respect, the same way you respect how a painter uses their oil paints on a canvas or a sculptor creates from clay, a lot of textile designers started out doing all of this by hand on paper with gouache and watercolor and doing repeats before anything was ever digital.” – Lesley Merola of Hunt + Gather

“I think a textile designer needs to have “vision.” I need to look beyond what is on my painting table or computer screen and imagine the design on the end product. And I need to imagine the environment in which the end product will live.” – Cathy Hunt

Textile designers are not just concerned with the design that they develop and how it prints on their Epson printer, it is all about how the design is going to look when it is printed on fabric and sewn into the finished product.

It means thinking big picture. It means thinking about how your design is going to look on hundreds of yards of fabric. It means being OK with the fact that your design is not always going to be the star of the show because it compliments the final product so well, that people instead comment on the beauty of the dress or the accessory. It’s about being connected to the history of the art form, the production process and the finished product.

I am not saying that you need to do repeats all day or be a master screen printer to be a professional textile designer. But being a textile designer does mean that you understand the production process and know how to manipulate a pattern to insure that it prints as beautifully on fabric as it does on paper.

Dig deep, learn all that you can through courses, books and the wonderful worldwide web and enjoy the process!

At Pattern Observer we strive to help you grow your textile design business through our informative articles, interviews, tutorials, workshops and our private design community, The Textile Design Lab.

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