Friday, 6 May 2016

Book review: Designing Textiles for the Fashion Industry by Michelle Fifis

I really wish this book were available when I started my business 6 years ago. Designing Textiles for the Fashion Industry is a very comprehensive guide for new and aspiring textile designers. It is full of tips and advice taken from inside the industry. The 96-page eBook is a quick read and the Kindle app helps you to easily highlight sections and add notes and bookmarks. 

"Imagine how wonderful it would be to walk down the beach and notice someone wearing a swimsuit made with a pattern you designed."

This is what the book start with and that's exactly what happened to me when I first started out as a textile designer. I spent the day at the beach with a friend in Schevingen and next to us a group of young girls were sitting. One of them was wearing a bikini with my print on it! I couldn't be more proud (or help staring at it). I was wondering if I could approach her to say that I designed that bikini, but then I thought it might be a little weird so I decided not to.
 


 

Michelle so clearly describes how the fashion industry works. She explains which type of patterns are most popular in the fashion industry and why. She covers the fashion production process in a very concise manner. The chapters End User Focus and the Design Calendar are both very helpful as well. She also elaborates on how to reach out to buyers, what they are looking for and how to market your work. We also get insight and advice from designers within the industry including Lesley Merola Moya from Hunt + Gather studio, Amy Sia, and Shyanne Clarke from Dail design studio.


Though I'm not a beginning designer, I bought the book because in my experience you can always learn something by reading it or at least it can help you focus or bring a new creative impulse. I watched some webinars of Michelle before and I follow her blog for years, so I knew it would be worthwhile.



I was really glad to read that you don't have to have a signature design style to be successful. It's great if you do so clients will hire you specifically for your handwriting and it's obvious for buyers to recognize your work and know what they can expect. Personally I have a more subtle and versatile design style, which allows me to be a great freelancer. I can easily adapt my style to the needs of the market I'm working for but you can still recognize a certain style in my work. I think I would get bored if I had to commit to one particular artistical style or pattern type. But if you're always designing for someone else's needs, it's nice to have something for yourself that expresses your design aesthetic. That's why I'm launching my first silk scarves collection in July.

To be successful as a textile designer you have to know your limits. I, for one, love to design colourful florals, geometrics and abstract textures but there are certain styles I'll never master like cute & comic style animals for kidswear, handlettering and logo like typography for boys and menswear or very classical designs. 



The only downside to the book in my opinion is that the graphics and pattern examples could be better, more visually inspiring. Having said that the images are very helpful to understand the concepts so perhaps that's what Michelle was going for. 

You can buy the eBook at Amazon for $7.99, great value for money if you ask me.

Michelle Fifis is the founder of the Pattern Observer blog where she writes about business and textile design. She also founded the Textile Design Lab, a membership community offering learning and networking opportunities to hundreds of designers worldwide.

Other good reads I recommend:
 

Mastering the Art of Fabric Printing and Design by Laurie Wisbrun
 

The book walks you through the entire textile design process, from finding inspiration, through step-by-step tutorials on how to design a pattern (both digitally and by hand), looking at different printing methods (such as digital printing, screenprinting, monoprinting, stamping, stencilling, resist dying, painting and inkjet printing), to how to establish and develop a fabric collection, and how to approach a manufacturer.
 



Pattern Design & Beyond: An Insider’s Guide to Creating and Managing Your Own Surface Design Career by Claudia Brown & Jessie Whipple Vickery of Pattern People

This eBook covers how the industry works, terminology (you gotta talk the talk), types of prints and repeats, how to create repeats and factory ready swatches, how to create colour separations, different file formats, what to include in your portfolio and online promotion.




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