EMESHA SS11 illustrated for Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration by Lisa Stannard
While at University you studying textiles and design was sustainability something that you were aware of?
Definitely within my second and third year it was becoming increasingly obvious how the whole of the textile and fashion world were becoming more concerned with designing sustainable products. It seemed like when I was researching more designers I admired were definitely starting to introduce sustainability to their garments and to their designers. Whether it is in the fabrics they used or their concepts. Personally I wanted to create print designs that were pieces of art and that people would cherish forever, so that is how sustainability influenced my own design.
And while you were there you won the Texprint Colour Prize?
Yes I was chosen as one of the top 24 graduates in the country to take part in Texprint 2009 and whilst exhibiting as part of Texprint I was awarded the colour prize donated by Pantone Europe. I was thrilled to have the attention I paid to the use of colour within my designs so noticed.
What is this prize for and how much has it impacted on your career?
Barabara Horspool who is the creative director of New Look awarded me the prize. One of the prizes was to exhibit at Interstoff Asia in Hong Kong so I got to go along with the 6 other winners to Hong Kong. It was an amazing experience that I will never forget. It really allowed me to gain knowledge about building a career as a freelance textile designer. It gave me the confidence to set up on my own. I met so many amazing people.
And when you graduated what were your plans for future?
When I very first graduated I knew that I wanted to work for myself. I think that I had known that for the whole of my final year, we had lectures from amazing artists who worked as freelancers and whenever they spoke I though ‘that’s exactly what I want to do’. However without the support of Texprint and The Prince’s Trust I may not have had the right business skills to do this.
… did you ever think you’d end up working for the likes of Whitney Eve, Matthew Williamson and Lucy in Disguise (owned by Lily Allen and Sarah Owen)?
No! Not at all. I have been a Matthew Williamson fan since I started studying art in High School, so interning at Matthew Williamson was a dream come true, especially because I adore him for his print designs. And the Lucy in Disguise illustration commission was also very exciting, it taught me a lot and some really great things came out of it, like seeing my illustrations painted huge on the walls of Harvey Nichols.
What was it like being working for such big names?
It’s definitely nothing as glamorous as it sounds. I work really hard and pull my fair share of late nights and all nighters to finish work but I am so grateful that I have been pushed by people because some amazing work has come out of it. I loved interning at Matthew Williamson, it was my first time living in London and it was a real adventure for me, but I was also leaving work and going home to freelance as well, which was very hard. I’ll never regret doing it though.
Working for Whitney Eve was your first ‘full – time graduate job’ wasn’t it? How did that come about?
Yeah, it didn’t start off full time. It’s kind of a funny story actually! I was browsing fashion sites one evening and had always admired Whitney Port’s sense of style, and then I noticed that she had launched a competition to design her Twitter background so I sent in a package of my work in March 2010. I didn’t really think much else of it, then one evening I received an email saying that I had won the competition and that I should call her manager. They asked who I was and when I explained that I am a textile designer they wanted to work with me on Whitney’s line. I started by designing prints for the collection, then I designed a backdrop for her show at New York Fashion Week and I’m currently helping with lots of different things each season. I love it, the whole team are great to work for and I am really proud of the collection, I think that it is growing in a great way.
What has been the highest point of your career?
This is probably just for the ‘street cred’ but going to New York Fashion Week last year and seeing my print designs that I designed at University on models stood in front of a backdrop I designed was pretty special. It didn’t quite hit me until a week later!
… and the lowest?
Oh, I wouldn’t like to say a lowest; there hasn’t been a lowest. It has been really hard work and at times when I first started I had no money to survive off but you have to think of the bigger picture. I think just worked by yourself and owning your own business is obviously stressful, it’s something I am still learning about.
So tell us more about your collaborations this season?
This season I have been working with Emesha, which has been great. I really got to explore different techniques and concepts within print design which was very refreshing to me and also challenging too. I think we worked really well together and had some great days bouncing ideas back and forth. Our print concept was digital vs. handmade, so I was making handmade print designs look digital and vice versa. We used the idea of pixels mixed with trees and blending a lot of colours. We came up with so many ideas but decided to focus on a main print for Spring 2012.
Again I have also been collaborating with Whitney Eve, we have changed up our print influences again and have done some gorgeous watercolour floral with a really modern and fresh twist.
I have collaborated with Africa Fashion Guide, http://africafashionguide.wordpress.com/ and have illustrated fashion designers for their book and website which will be launching just before London Fashion Week.
I actually met Emesha through illustrating her in Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration. http://www.ameliasmagazine.com/shop/Amelia&%2339;s-Compendium-%3Cbr-/%3Eof-Fashion-Illustration/c10/p45/Amelia&%2339;s-Compendium-of-Fashion-Illustration/product_info.html
From your experiences what have you learnt so far?
To work hard but not get too stressed. Stress doesn’t get anyone anywhere fast!! Also to put yourself out there, network, introduce yourself to other designers. I do all of my own promotion completely alone and it is something that I definitely prioritize. Don’t be afraid of a challenge, challenges push you to create new work! You may be surprised with what you come up with and you will have grown so much as a designer.
What would you like to find yourself doing in the future?
I want to go back to University next year to do a masters in textile design and then hopefully continue doing what I am doing and helping other designers create original print designs for their collections. I also want to build up my own personal collection and have my own line.
Words by Lucinda Ann Borrell