Third year has been the best year for me by far. I’ve felt happier and more creative. My designs have developed, and my university work has felt so much easier, as if I finally found the way I design, the way I think and what style I like.
It all began in subject when I realised I loved using urban inspirations to design for the male market, due to the angular shapes and gritty subject matter, and I haven’t looked back, deciding to take this through to field. I love the moody colours, and even the bright ones, and I like that my designs are more masculine in nature; they seem to fit me better than what I’d created in the last two years. I’m a city girl, and I don’t know why I thought my designs would be influenced by anything else.
After determining what inspires me; black and white with a little 80’s thrown in there, I started looking on WGSN for the next trend to work with. I came across Youth Tonic, and therein, Slactivist Slogans, which is when I decided to put the theory of my dissertation into practice; using my craft as a medium for message. I’ve really enjoyed this topic and being able to design and create textiles that satisfy my love for creating with a deeper purpose.
Slactivist slogans is a transitional sub trend for autumn/winter 2018 inspired by bold graphics and political ideals. It has a bright colour scheme but it wouldn’t be me if I didn’t get in there some dark colours, so I included a dark grey and a dark purple. I am much more passionate about social ideals than political, especially when it comes to the welfare of people, and one group of people that really tug at my heart strings are the homeless. Living in a city I understand just how much money gets thrown away on useless things, I do it myself. I also understand how horrible it can be to be in a city, and I have a home and friends and people to protect me, the homeless don’t have those things. They are abused, ignored and treated as less than human because they are unfortunate enough not to have enough money to live on, let alone spend on unnecessities.
This is what I wanted to convey in my collection. That homeless people should not be treated as lepers because they’ve fallen into a difficult situation, or because they are living in a way that is contradictory to what ‘normal’ people consider living. Linking urban designs with homelessness wasn’t difficult, it was finding a design idea that was new and unusual that took a bit of time. I’ve seen a lot of collections/designs that are based on homeless people, and that was when I decided that I wanted to focus on what homeless people see, as opposed to looking at the homeless. I went to Cardiff city centre in the early morning, when most of the homeless have disappeared off the streets, and sat on the floor, and looked. The homeless people I see, more often than not, sit on the floor, which is a completely different perspective from almost everyone else who is in and out of the city centre each day. What I saw most of was the ground, and I started to look at the different markings and paint on the tiles, slabs, and manhole covers, and I found the inspiration for my designs.
The first few weeks of designing difficult. Instead of thinking about designs surfaces I was too focused on designing my garments. While I was still experimenting with hand dying and screen printing, I wasn’t playing with designs or having fun with them because I had tunnel vision which only let me see my finished products. After I realised what I was doing, my designing got easier. I started to play with fabric manipulation, and laser cutting, I went back to mark making and turning the shapes and marks I found on the floor into designs. When I got to printing, I had some trouble with choosing the right colours to print on top of my coloured fabric. I’m used to working with black and white but I was so inspired by the colour scheme of Youth Tonic that I wanted a collection full of bold bright colours that would snatch and hold people’s attention.
I love fabric dying. I hadn’t practiced any since my first year, and I honestly don’t know why. I adore mixing and creating colours and then manipulating natural fabrics into a colour that I envisaged. I love having control of my designs from that very first step. It means that I can create something which has a part of me in it, which is so much more powerful that if I’d bought fabric that was as close to my chosen colour as possible. Each and everyone one of my designs I created from start to finish. I methodically created each piece all the while thinking of how these samples, these ideas could impact the change I’m striving for with my collection.
All in all this year I’ve learnt what I am comfortable with; fabric dying, screen printing and creating visual aides, and what I need help with, which is to not overthink and make sure that while I invest my time into my work, that I find a balance between relaxing and creating, meaning I’m able to think clearly, enjoy what I am doing and get involved in every part of the creating process.
I’ve also learnt that it is important to ask for and to thoughtfully consider others opinions this year instead of going full steam ahead. I’ve found it useful to have a team (even if it’s a team of friends) to give opinions to help me view my work with a critical eye and through this feedback, and helping others, my creative output, and my work has greatly improved for the better.