Whether you’re a budding quilter, architect, designer or textiles artist, one thing’s for sure: You must work hard to become an expert in your field. When you start your journey into the world of design you’ve got to find your feet. It’s important that you experiment and explore as many areas of possible to find your style, your specialism and how you want to express yourself. It can be quite a daunting time, learning new skills isn’t easy, and you’ll constantly be failing; but don’t worry; embrace it – this is how we all learn and develop as artists and humans. At this stage, I find it’s helpful to reflect on your work and maintain a portfolio to use as evidence of your progress and use as you grow.
This process will enable you to find the areas that you need develop. Allow yourself to make mistakes, it’s ok to make mistakes, this is a don’t be afraid when things go wrong, don’t be scared of getting wrong. Remember to save it and rework when you’re ready. It could be your next master piece.
All artists steal
Do your homework, get to know your industry, be a fan, be a participant and get involved in the contemporary discussions within your disciplines. You should do this at all stages of your development to obtain grounded knowledge of your field and gather inspiration. My advice to you is to visit galleries, read magazines immerse yourself in everything creative. Follow trends, join groups, start groups, be inspired, discuss and you’ll flourish. All artists steal – use the power of others ideas and turn them into your own creation. Merge disciplines, create new ones, fuse them, break them, push each idea to its limit. You’ll be surprised at how much you’ll learn from extracting the very best from yourself and your art.
Show your work
Displaying your work is vital to this whole process. As a minimum you should develop a sketchbook or scrap book as you develop, they’re great reference points and will keep you interested and inspired throughout your journey. Develop your brand. Yes, as an artist you’re a brand. It’s you, your stories and your work that people are interested in. You’ll need to make a choice early on, whether to keep a personal online presence and your brand; or whether you develop yourself as a professional brand from day 0. Using social media is a simple and very effective way of creating, developing and nurturing your brand, your story and your creativity. Create professional profiles on Instagram and Pinterest and take care of your online image. These will allow you to display your work and gain feedback on your ideas. You should show all stages of your work as they develop including descriptions and maybe what you’ve got out it – try to document your journey, it adds to your story, and people love stories.
Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator are software packages that are integral to the design industry. In the 21st century, you can’t just rely on a paint box and brush. These pieces of software are essential to most design jobs, and educational courses to ensure that you learn the basics of one or more of these programmes. It can be incredibly daunting for the technophobe, I know, and many people are scared off by ICT, but as I’ve developed, it’s allowed me to experiment further. You can also use design packages to a link to your website or watermark your work to help people get to know your work. There are many YouTube tutorials to help you and websites such as every-tuesday.com which have a full library of Photoshop and Illustrator video guides and with excellent explanations.
The number 1 rule for making it in the design world is to find an exceptional mentor. An expert will help you find the right path to develop your creativity and independence, allow you to use your imagination and enable you to be creative, learn how to express yourself and bring your ideas to life.
Traditional routes available at GCSE and A‑level include:
- Art & Design
- Art & Design Textiles, Graphics, Photography, 3D Design
- Design Technology: Textiles & Fashion
- Design Technology: Product Design
- Technical Award: Textiles, Graphics and Resistant Materials
These are all courses that I’ve done, taught or gained experience in throughout my development. From my own experience, it’s good to have a diverse mix of these courses to aid your learning.
There are also other routes available, these are areas which I’ve not had as much experience in but are just as valuable.
- Technical applied qualification
- Foundation courses
It’s hard to know what’s right for you but my advice would be to carefully read the prospectus, take part in open days, speak to tutors and experts in the field to ensure that you have the best possible route for you. It’s really no different to gathering research for an art project. Do your homework. It’s your future.
Now we come to degrees, but this might not be the route for everyone. These courses generally last for 3 years, and that’s a long time, especially if you add an industrial year where you can gain experience being an apprentice in your area. Let’s be clear: For you to be creative and develop as an artist/designer you must pick the degree and the environment that inspires you the most. It’s your future. You’re responsible for developing yourself.
But whatever you do I hope you’ll be hard working, creative, inspired, take risks, and most of all enjoy your journey.
Checklist: How to become an expert in your field
- Understand your materials and process
- Find your style
Instagram and Pinterest
- Follow artist and people with yours and similar interest
- Create your own following
- Develops sketchpads and scrap books
- Visit galleries
- Read books/magazines
- Follow trends
- Join groups
- Develops sketchpads and scrap books of your own work and of influences of designers
Use the following software.
- Adobe Photoshop
- Adobe Illustrator
Pick relevant courses
- Select courses that allow you develop creativity and independence
- Learn how to express yourself
- Use your imagination
- Bring your ideas to life
- Graphic designer
- Textile designer
- Fashion designer
Rebecca Harrison-Ruddock is the owner of AtticArtDesign.com. After being inspired to create, play and experiment at A-Level she studied Fashion and Textiles at the University of Leeds. She used these skills to become a teacher to carry on her passion to inspire others. Rebecca has been a teacher for 9 years and is now a full-time freelance textiles artist and designer, spreading her wings and helping people to follow their dreams. Say hi @atticartdesign on Instagram.