If you have recently finished a degree in textile design, surface pattern design, or anything else, congratulations! As a new textile designer, you’ve probably had a whirlwind few months of final hand in, degree shows, New Designers, and thinking about what’s next. You may also have realised you suddenly have a lot more spare time, and are feeling a bit unsure about what to do next.
We’ve put together some advice our technicians and designer community wish they had known when they finished their degrees:
1. Follow up all leads – Hopefully you have picked up lots of business cards at degree shows, but don’t just put these in a drawer and forget about them. If anyone gave you their card or spoke to you then your work stood out for them. Find them on social media, send them an email or give them a phone call, even if it’s just to say thank you. You never know what it could lead to.
2. Don’t stop drawing – It’s very tempting to look at the huge amount of work you have created and think you deserve a rest. However once you get out of drawing practice it’s very hard to start again. If you don’t know what to draw, try to set yourself a mini project. #100days tags on Instagram, and Pattern Bank’s blog are both great places to get inspiration.
3. Try alternatives to screenprinting – Unless you are very lucky, you probably don’t have access to a fully equipped screen printing studio anymore. So if you want to create any new fabrics you will need to be creative. Print & Press, London can help you create digitally printed fabrics, you can find out about our fabric qualities and prices here. You can also try other print techniques, such as lino printing, tie dye, and even potato printing. Our print techniques Pinterest board has lots of ideas.
4. Enter competitions – At this time of year there’s often a few competitions for recent graduates. These will often feature a summary of applicants, so even if you don’t win you might get some free press. Don’t forget to look for illustration and painting competitions as well, as your textiles degree has probably given you lots of practice in these.
5. Network – This could be with other graduates, or with industry insiders. Go to talks, workshops, exhibitions, trade fairs, and use social media as much as possible. Approach anyone who interests you, they might be looking for someone to collaborate with, or might know of an opportunity that would be perfect for you. And don’t worry about what to say, you have just finished 3 to 4 years of design education, so you will have lots of interesting things to talk about including your final project, dissertation, and what your plans are now. Start by asking what people do, complementing their work, or even complimenting something they are wearing.
6. Take a course – There are lots of online courses on sites like Skillshare, where you can fine tune your skills and specialise in something you may not have had time for at uni. Make It In Design run fantastic courses specifically for surface pattern design, and they also run a Summer School which you can join for £20. Have a look at courses run by your local college, these are often affordable and a great way to meet other creative people in your area.
7. Keep in touch with your classmates – It’s very easy to lose contact when you no longer live in the same city. Make sure you have contact details for everyone, and try to support each other by following any social media accounts your classmates set up to promote themselves. You may by the different career directions people will follow, but you never know when you might need someone’s help.
8. Use your university – Universities have all sorts of support available to graduates, from careers services, to business loans advice, mentoring and free promotion in alumni publications. You doing well is a great advertisement for them, so it’s always worth asking if they can help.
We hope you’ve found this useful, write in the comments if you have any other advice for recent graduates.