With the support of SURTEX, each month a new post will be highlighted on Pattern Observer, featuring the work of one of our Textile Design Lab members. This month it is our great pleasure to feature the work of TDL member Cathrin Gressieker. Cathrin has been an active member of the Textile Design Lab for two and a half years and in that time has developed countless professional patterns in her signature colorful style. We treasure her presence in the Lab and are so excited to bring her patterns to SURTEX this May.
We hope you enjoy this inspiring post about Cathrin’s love for textile design and how she found her way to this field.
“I love a lot of things, but especially being creative, traveling and the feeling of aliveness and inner fulfillment these two things bring.
I did my art foundation in London in the late 1990s (serious fine art!) and had a friend that studied textile design at the renowned Central Saint Martins College (Stella McCartney, Alexander McQueen, Mary Katrantzou and John Galliano studied there). At that time I never quite understood what this mysterious textile design thing meant and that it could be a proper job.
Fast forward 15 years, where I took the rather sensible route of studying journalism & film at the Berlin University of the Arts and becoming an editor for a travel magazine at a German TV station. And I traveled the world. And then I left this job when I had my kids to start a new life as a yoga teacher (another passion of mine).
That was 2014. From the vague idea of doing a bit of sketching and painting again, I discovered the online world of art and design classes and fully emerged myself in it for two years, taking every online painting and design course that I felt attracted to. From the financial security of my successful yoga school (and my very supportive husband) I painted my heart out, participated in art shows and learned the ins and outs of Photoshop and Illustrator. It was a genuine creative explosion. I became positively addicted to pattern design. I loved the idea that I could be productive in my little studio in my little city in Northern Germany and at the same time could be connected all over the world to other students, teachers and clients through the Internet.
I joined the Textile Design Lab in September 2015. The classes and challenges gave my designs a professional direction, I also love trends and learned so many new tricks and techniques (and still do, thank you so much Michelle and Chelsea!).
After three months of taking classes and challenges in the TDL, I sold my first pattern. After five months I found a textile agency to represent me through contacting it before a textile trade show and showing my portfolio. After one year of TDL my first client contacted me that had found me online.
Over the last year my designs have started coming to life as real products. In addition to my textile agent, I sell my designs online via Patternbank. I have seen my designs on women’s and girls’ activewear, yogawear, women’s apparel, scarves, sustainable steel bottles and other products.
I think my love for traveling and yoga very much shows in my design work. I feel mostly drawn to designing tropical patterns and activewear textures. What you put out in the world comes back to you. My mantra often seems to be: I am a tropical designer. And I have attracted clients from the Cayman Islands and the Bahamas like this (even when it’s snowing outside where I live). A very exciting tropical collaboration was with Cayman Islands fashion designer Isy Obi of Isy B. Design (seen above.) For her 2018 Mermaid Collection I designed a series of Caribbean-inspired underwater prints for kaftans and dresses and one alloverprint for all kinds of resortwear. It was a great experience to be involved in the whole process from mood boarding, choosing color palettes and matching Pantone colors to designing the prints and preparing them according to the print requirements of the factory for test prints and then the final collection.
Traveling is probably the biggest inspiration for my designs. Tropical travels have taken me to Sri Lanka, Thailand and Cuba in the last years. Traveling is also my favorite sketching time as I am more relaxed with more time and I see so many new motifs. I always come back home with a full sketchbook, a lot of new ideas and fresh energy that I can’t wait to get working at the computer again. Last month I decided to upgrade from my trusty laptop to a 27’’ iMac and now I feel even more professional and gave myself some well-deserved creative credit!
I love experimenting with all kinds of mediums, I have quite an array of art supplies for painting and drawing, I stop for every beautiful flower and plant that comes my way while traveling or at home and photograph it, I like printing and stamping techniques, I love the magic, blend modes and content aware command of Photoshop and the preciseness, smooth tool and endless scalability of Illustrator. I am an eternal learner and also love experimenting with new tools like the iPad Pro (I did a 100 day project last year to learn how to design patterns with it). I am always learning and expanding my skills by taking classes through online learning platforms or local art workshops and see how I can play with it to fit my style. Designing patterns feels like play, joy and creative freedom to me.
When the TDL offered the women’s activewear course, I immediately knew that I had to take this course. As a yoga teacher I always have an eye on the activewear market and have seen the rise of more empowering, dynamic and fun prints over the last years as the athleisure market keeps growing and growing. Since then I have licensed designs for yoga brands (which always makes my heart flutter when my two passions meet), gymnastics practicewear, swimwear and one especially loyal customer, Fleoshorts. They are an activewear brand, that mainly produces shorts for women weightlifters (sometimes I see girls doing yoga in them on Instagram also).
I am looking forward to all the patterns I can create in the future. This excites me, how my style will evolve, what kinds of clients and collaborations will come my way. I am very happy that I can check off one thing from my design bucket list this year – Surtex, through that wonderful opportunity to show designs with Pattern Observer (thanks Michelle and Chelsea, once again!). Even though I will not be going to New York in person this time, my designs will travel there.
Speaking of traveling. What am I doing this summer? Visiting my friend from my London days who studied textile design. I haven’t seen her for twenty years. I am a textile designer now myself and she recently went back to her homeland Georgia (not the one in the US, but in the former Soviet Union). I am looking forward to talking to her about how textile design has changed over the last twenty years with the rise of computer manipulation and digital printing. I understand this no more mysterious but endlessly fulfilling textile design thing now for sure.”