How I got into Surface Pattern

Surface pattern is a long way off my beginnings in art and design. Going through school I enjoyed drawing, and took up knitting with my nan as a hobby, although I was pretty terrible at it! When I chose my GCSEs, I chose to do Textiles, ICT, French and Geography, but within a week of doing geography I quickly switched to Art. Textiles at this point was quite arty, so I worked on my painting and stitching, and art was fun, with only a class of four I had plenty of space to work and would do A1 pencil drawings of landscapes.

When I moved into my A-levels, I carried on with Art, Textiles and ICT, and also took Photography. It was always advised to give yourself a good range of subjects to have options here, but I knew I wanted to do something creative, and I loved it. I worked on three different themes at the same time, and ended up with 36 hours of exams at the end of it. ICT ended up being quite useful too with how much I use computers in designing and blogging now.

This was probably around the time I got into tattoo designs and using this kind of style in my work, I love using small scale patterns or dotwork to build up my designs, and these techniques do still influence my work now as well.

I finished my A-levels with the grades that I wanted and was set to go to a local college to do a foundation degree, as it got closer and closer I started dreading it, a foundation course would cover a range of things I like, such as drawing, textiles, fashion, photography, but also included a lot of areas I knew I would not enjoy. Thinking back maybe this would have been useful for me to discover new things but I think my choice of a gap year was a good break from education and meant I had the time to build up some savings for University.

I went back to my old school and managed to get a job working with my textiles teacher, working on the production of Cats! The Musical, which involved painting about 75 catsuits, as well as making costumes and accessories. I went into this thinking I was set on doing photography at uni, but by the end I had changed that to textiles.

I think my reasoning with photography is that I would do it in a way that involved my art and textiles skills as well, like stitching into photographs and using the darkroom to make creative images, but the more I looked into textiles the more I thought I would do more with that instead.

I went for some interviews for textiles and fashion in Cardiff and Bath, I was quite split between the two because I enjoyed creating clothes in school for textiles but looking at what my fashion friends do now makes me very pleased I did choose textiles, I really don’t think I would have the head to cope with all the measuring and adjusting fashion takes!

I got my unconditional offer to Cardiff Met to do textiles, which I found out quickly was very different to my school classes. I had never really studied surface pattern before but this was such a large part of textiles that my course covered, I think I was a little afraid of it at first because of how much digital work was involved, and I really loved stitching and working with fabrics.

I worked hard on learning how to make patterns, which honestly took me until this year to really feel confident with them, and now whenever I draw, I think of how this would look in a pattern, what other motifs would work with it, what colour scheme would work. I end up planning more little collections in my head to do when I have more spare time.

While I am working on my final module, I have been taking part in the Spoonflower weekly design contests which have been great to take a few hours off the main project and dive into a smaller one. They give a theme which can be quite widely interpreted and then open a vote of judging each week. I’ll add a link to my Spoonflower page or create a portfolio album of them when I have added a few more to the page over the coming weeks.

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