I keep saying it but, it is so true. Writing this blog has brought some really talented and wonderful people to my attention. Today i am going to feature a recent graduate which i rarely do. I was totally blown away when i saw the work of Freya Gardner. Her drawing is very strong and i feel that this is what it takes to be a successful textile designer. All the best Freya!
Anne Marie - Tell us about your experience at university, what did each year consist of?
Freya - My experience at university has been brilliant! I began with a completely different design ethos and a mis-represented view of what textiles is but enjoyed it all the more because I had so much to learn. It has changed me, for the better.
Beginning from scratch, the first year consisted of workshops where I learnt the basics of print, stitch and knit, alongside short projects that had a particular market focus within textiles: fashion, interiors and craft. There was also a work placement unit to help focus us our direction for the following year and give us an insight into working in the industry.
In the next year I focussed on print for womenswear through longer projects and an industry led brief for a fashion company. I was introduced to new sampling techniques such as digital printing and laser cutting to encourage innovation and to become familiar with industry programmes and processes.
The final year was primarily dedicated to the final project, which ran alongside a portfolio unit where I produced promotional materials and became involved in online social media for networking purposes.
Anne Marie - What was your favourite class?
Freya - We didn’t have many different classes, our timetable was devised according to the units we were currently doing. The majority of our time was dedicated to our projects, split between scheduled studio study and independent study. We also had lectures on textile visual culture, digital design sessions and guest speaker talks. These talks were often really interesting and I learnt a lot more about the industry through the textile designers own experiences’.
Anne Marie - In your view what has been your most valuable skill or lesson?
Freya - I am able to draw accurately which has served me well so far. I have always enjoyed drawing and I believe it is a fundamental part of design and being able to develop a personal style through my drawing is extremely satisfying. I considered doing a degree in Illustration but I wanted my work to have wider practical applications and textiles acts as a medium to do this. In this regard, the most valuable skill I have acquired is print design. I have come out of my degree with solid knowledge of a wide variety of print processes; hand and digital. I believe colour is a vital component of print design and I have learnt a lot about balancing a collection during the course. My use of confident colour has increasingly become an identifiable part of my handwriting.
Anne Marie - Were you taught computer packages for textile design and if so which ones?
Freya - Yes, I was introduced to photoshop in the first year and taught sessions were a constant part of our syllabus throughout the three years. This knowledge has been invaluable and my print design has moved on substantially since then. We were taught the basics of Adobe illustrator in our final year so we would be aware of this useful industry software. I also used the laser cutter extensively as part of my print development, for which I learnt how to use a programme called Trotec.
Anne Marie - Where do you go for inspiration?
Freya - I like to focus on natural themes because I am fascinated by colour, pattern, and structure. This developed through frequent travelling whilst growing up which exposed me to the breadth of natural life from around the world.
I often choose a different ecosystem / mood to explore with each project using a combination of my own photographs, found imagery and trend research for inspiration. Trend forecasts are my first point of reference for colour/look/designers because I prefer producing a collection that has modern relevance and they provide a good starting point for inspirational imagery. I like to visit exhibitions / galleries (travel if possible) to take my own photos, however books or web sources are also useful for drawing material.
Anne Marie - As a new graduate how are you finding the job market?
Freya - I did a lot of research to see what suitable jobs were out there and I found most design companies require at least two years experience in the industry. I knew it would be hard getting a job straight after graduating so internships / freelance work are my way forward at the moment. I am currently in China doing an internship for a fashion company as well as teaching at Zhejiang Textile & Fashion College. I have been fortunate so far and interned with Zandra Rhodes and Kit Miles in the summer after graduating and have secured placements for start of next year.
Anne Marie - How are you marketing yourself as a designer and what is your dream job?
Freya - I know social media is becoming an increasingly useful tool to promote yourself, so I have accounts on several sites as well as my own personal website which I update regularly. I have managed to find freelance work through Linkedin and I am currently doing a licensing project with Keka Case to design cases for the iPhone, iPad, Kindle and Galaxy range of products using my graduate collection. These will be available to purchase soon. I also have my business cards which I always carry with me. Ultimately I would love to have my own business producing fashion products but for now learning the ropes in design studios and high street brands will be my focus.
Anne Marie - What was your new designers experience like?
Freya - When we found out there was a limited number of places at New Designers, it immediately raised the level of competition between the students. I thought this was great because it represented a realistic situation yet you fed off each others motivation and the standard of work improved tenfold. The exhibition itself was so worthwhile, it was brilliant to see so much talent in one place and to measure up the standard of all the graduates who will all be vying for jobs in the industry.
Anne Marie - What is your next step?
Freya - I’m going to apply for masters courses specialising in printed textiles for fashion for the following September. I want to develop my personal style but I didn’t want to go straight from university into further education. I have taken a post university ‘gap’ year to clear my head and get experience, hopefully my MA application will be successful and I can start a new chapter in my creative development.