Textile designers create 2D (two dimensional) designs for woven, knitted or printed fabrics and textile products, to be used in furnishings or clothing. They may also create designs for products such as floor and wall coverings, wrapping paper and packaging.
A major part of the work involves researching design trends and forecasts in order to determine what is likely to sell, and finding out about developments in manufacturing technology.
Some designers work for organisations such as design agencies, manufacturers or retailers, and at each stage of the design process will liaise with clients, technical staff, marketing and buying staff, and colleagues on the design team. They produce initial sketches by hand or on computer, using specialist CAD (computer aided design) software, and either make up samples or have them constructed by technicians.
Freelance designers often have relevant craft skills and may complete all parts of the process, for example hand-printing small batches of fabric, tufting rugs or producing decorative woven or embroidered textiles for wall-hangings etc. They market these either directly from their own studio, through craft fairs and similar outlets, or indirectly through galleries or shops.
Textile designers working for companies usually work basic hours of 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, but might work extra hours when there are deadlines to meet. Part-time work is sometimes possible.
Freelance designers do not have set hours, and will have to divide their time between designing (and possibly making up designs) and marketing their work. They may also need to supplement their income with other types of work, such as teaching.
Travel, in this country or abroad, may be necessary, for example to visit/exhibit at trade fairs, or to visit clients and manufacturers. A driving licence may be useful.
To be a textile designer you need:
Employers include large manufacturing companies or small, exclusive design houses. Some designers also work for design practices or for architects or interior designers. As well as designing, freelance designers may supplement their design work by producing work to sell at craft fairs or by working part-time in teaching or other related areas.
As most design studios and manufacturers’ design departments are relatively small, opportunities for promotion may be limited: progression to senior design positions may be possible.
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