I was trying to explain to someone the other day, how i feel about textiles and surface design. For me it goes way beyond a 9-5 job. It does not switch-off ever. Even on vacation, i am hunting around for patterns occurring or reading a book to inspire my next collection. Surface design and pattern creation is how i make sense of the world. You see; I like stacks, lists, clusters and themes, yet i am shamefully unorganized—lets call it "artsy". Surface and textile design is one of the places in my world where i'm able to create some order. Through trends, media and fashion, I somehow am able to make the mess in my mind into something i'm willing to share and can get behind. That is why it is so personal to me, i have too be 100% behind it to say i love it or am proud of it.
It absolutely drives me bonkers when a apparel designer gives me a brief to knockoff some other designers work and then asks me the dreaded question... "Do you like it?". Clearly i have to much pride to handover something that i didn't do my best on, but "if i like it" is irrelevant as it's not really mine, the concept wasn't birthed from my own vision or experiences. I feel this is where the apparel designer has to have the savvy and conviction to truly direct the outcome and be able to verbalize direction, beyond sharing an image of someone else's garment they like... Personally, if someone asks "Do you like it?" they're needing affirmation and moral support because they are unsure themselves. This is why i believe it is crucial to have your resident expert on print (with their stacks of print knowledge filed in their noggin) in concept design meetings. To often print is thought of as the "cherry on the top" in the design process of a garment rather than a true ingredient in the baking process. The fabric, the cut, the color, the fit all have an impact on the type of print the garment should have.
The value of design has transcended to the mainstream in many industries, recently, the role of print in that process still needs that transformative moment. When we finally get print in the concept design meetings, it will result in a more fluid design process where ownership and direction is collaborative. Prints will become more original and then when the inevitable question "do you like it?" comes it will be easier to give an impassioned answer.
Takeaways to make better prints
1. Know your craft and it's evolution. Be willing to share and educate the entire design team and buyers.
2. Make stacks, pin up and engage dialogue through moodboards. Keep your eyes open to common threads and trends.
3. Be available and prepared to collaborate. Bring your POV but also be sensitive to everyone else's. We are better together. It is not war.
4. Constructive honesty. Be able to give feedback and rationale.