Emily Hammond is a recent graduate in Surface Pattern Design for Interiors at Swansea College of Art, and the winner of the 2017 Print & Press Student Print Design Competition. She resides in West Yorkshire, where she is establishing her freelance business. Find out her advice for students undertaking their final year of a textile design course, and how to write a creative project brief.
Establishing Your Degree Collection Through A Written Brief
Your written brief is the sail on your boat. Without it, your project is aimlessly floating and won’t be prepared for any rough tide. My first bit of advice would be to make it your own. Only you know your work and capability best. Tutors and peers can advise your journey, but only you can carve your path.
The content in your brief needs to be tactile enough, as you may be questioned thoroughly on it during assessment period. Below are some questions to ask to give structure to your brief.
What’s your topic?
Pick a theme that will best represent your individual style and skill set. It needs to be something that can endure weeks as your final degree module usually lasts from two to six months. If your idea only lasts for a couple of weeks, you won’t be able to create a full body of work that keeps regenerating new outcomes. No development means no project.
I chose to draft this out through brainstorming key words and floating ideas. Everyone has a different method of planning so try catering it towards your own thought process. I usually get a few ideas at once so it helps me to write them down into a brainstorm so that I can reflect later and refine ideas into outcomes.
What methods will you use?
Screen print, ceramics, stitch, digital print? Whatever the answer, you should explain your intention for these processes and why you are using them.
Which pathway discipline does your work lie in?
Interiors, fashion, stationery? It is important to consider where you fit into the market and your work needs to be a visual representation of this. I know one size doesn’t fit all, and I’ve seen many students crossing pathways such as fashion and interior designers or fashion makers.
Your degree show should be an accurate reflection of your chosen pathway and define you to the industry and potential employers.
Who is your target market?
Who will buy my products? Build a client profile board to extract these ideas and put your work into context. You can create a mini story with this.
What is your colour palette?
This can be the most underrated part, and is often neglected. One thing I regret is not doing enough colour swatching. By picking out Pantone shades and RGB colour scales, your work will have more visual structure. Colours wont clash and you’ll be able to predict your outcomes a lot better.
If you are digital printing, it is worth requesting printed fabric samples, as the colours may not always print how they look on the screen. If hand dyeing or screen printing, keep a small book to log different shades and colours complete with fabric samples. I scanned in paintings and photos of colourful objects, and picked the colours with the ‘Eyedropper’ tool in Photoshop to create palettes.
What’s your timeline?
This is only a suggestion as I didn’t end up using one – Mine was in the form of scribbled to do lists in my diary last minute and hoping for the best! However, a timeline gives a rough structure of where you want to see your work in the next few weeks. The thing that put me off originally making one is it will change – a lot. You won’t be following the same timeline one week before hand in – things change. Your supplier might be late, your ideas can change. However, by letting your tutor know your project intentions, you will appear organised, dedicated and outsiders will be able to visualise your predicted body of work a lot more fluently.
Start off with listing the weeks and jotting down what you expect to be done at the end of each week and bullet point ways you can make this happen. I’m going to leave this one as optional because if you’re anything like me you may work spontaneously and weekly deadlines may make you panic.
These are the backbone to your brief. If you’re not strong at writing and your ideas usually come to you visually, mood boards are a life saver. They can be created handmade or digitally. I prefer digital as I they look more professional, and they look effective in digital and paper portfolios.
Creating A Portfolio
Some courses may require a substantial portfolio, outlining your degree show project. This will be your main tool towards seizing your dream job. Each portfolio is individual. Layouts are your own preference. The main thing is they need to be clear and coherent.
You may want to include:
– Fabric or paper samples
– Colour palettes
– Mood boards
– Space mapping – your designs on the products intended for purpose
If you are unsure on layout, it is worth looking on Pinterest. Keywords such as ‘mood board’, ‘sketchbook layout’ and ‘creative portfolio’, may help you find what you are looking for.
The portfolio is ongoing, so don’t be disappointed if you don’t have as many items as you would like or you feel that it doesn’t represent your best work. Your style will keep evolving, and so will your portfolio.
Want some more advice on preparing for your final year? Read textile designer Katy Welsh’s 6 Tips For Your Final Year At University.
Already finished uni and want to know what to do next? Read 8 Things To Do After Finishing Your Textile Design Degree and How To Make Money From Your Textile Design Skills.