Katy Welsh graduated from the Printed Textiles course at Leeds College of Art in 2016, and has kindly put together 6 tips for final year fashion/textiles degree students (or anyone studying a creative subject at university). In her final year, Katy was awarded the Textile Society Bursary, and now works for Ustudio, and as a freelance printed textiles designer. She has also interned for a number of well known brands including Hallmark and Issa.
1. Share the positivity
This is an obvious one and I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you that things can get heated around final hand in, it’s better for everyone if you are all being nice! Share the space and help help each other out, people will have meltdowns and you can help them get through it, at some point it will probably be you crying!
and abuse the facilities
Chances are these are going to be the most well equipped studios you ever get to work in, so dye things, print things, and scan everything. Once you start real life, stuff is expensive! Make the most of your university while it’s all at your fingertips.
3. Just be yourself
Don’t make the mistake of getting to your final year and deciding you need to make yourself commercial if you want a job. Everyone has their own taste and style, think about what it is that you like, and what kind of design interests you. It’s your final collection, not anyone else’s, and my best advice to you is to put the kind of work in your portfolio that you would like to be paid to make, not what you think will sell.
Don’t feel you have to fit into an obvious trend or do what other people are doing. Often the people who get the most attention for their work get it because they stand out.
4. Self promotion is your friend
Improving your online presence will help to get your name and style known, and the earlier you can do this the better. Start your website now so that it will be up and running before you graduate. If someone sees a picture of your work and likes it, they will want to find out more. You can also get ahead by contacting blogs and Instagrams to feature you and your work. It helps to get you seen by more people and hopefully one of those people will want to work with you.
My experience has been that my blog features have helped to make my name googleable, have spread my images across Pinterest and pushed traffic to my website. All of these things have made potential clients contact me (I know because I always ask how people found out about me).
5. You can go your own way
Don’t despair when searching through job adverts. You may get your first job this way but lots of people don’t find work through traditional means. It really pays off to be confident and ask people you have met in the industry if they can help you out. I got my first interview by messaging somebody I met on my first internship. It helps to get a referral as it gives you a bit of a head start against other candidates.
I would also recommend contacting companies you would like to work for directly, send a personal email; tell them what you like about the company and show them what you have to offer. This is how I got my first job. Sometimes people won’t even know they have a position to fill until you come along with the skills they didn’t realise they needed!
(There’s a great book about this called ‘Don’t Get a Job… Make a Job: How to make it as a creative graduate’ by Gem Barton which gives a lot of useful advice on this subject.)
6. Confidence is key
You have to believe in your skills and champion your own work. Know your project and practice inside out. It can be helpful to write a designer statement and a project summary, as it will help you to clarify your ideas and you can shoot it out whenever press opportunities come knocking.
Most importantly, listen to the compliments you get and take them on board. Grow confidence and conviction in your own ideas, as a designer you have to be your own PR, so sell yourself!
Have you recently graduated from a creative degree? Read our blog article ‘8 Things To Do After Finishing Your Textiles Degree’, or add any of your own advice in the comments below.