Fashion: Print Designer – Alison

Describe your job in couple of sentences:

Designing print artwork for High end designers, predominantly Clements Ribeiro (who were big at the time), Cacharel, Stella McCartney, Marc Jacobs among others.


When did you know what you wanted to do?

At the end of my Art Foundation Course – I used to want to be a sculptor, which I guess now means that my dreams came full circle with Ceramics


Did you go to university, go straight into the workforce or do an apprenticeship?
What did you study?

I studied fashion Textiles at Brighton University – BA Hons


What was your first job:
Does it relate to what you do now?

I did a graduate placement (paid) at M&S (of all places) but from that I worked at a design, color trend forecasting consultancy which was a brilliant stepping stone, I travelled and worked on lots of different fashion brands – predominantly Japanese.


Have you done other jobs in your life – if so what were they:
Did they have any influence on what you do now?

Everything from waitressing, market stalls, bar work (I came from a fairly humble background and had 2 jobs to get me through university). It taught me to be able to work with all sorts of different types of people and backgrounds, to be able to be part of a team, or lead a team.


How did you find out about your job (how it existed)?

My older sisters friend worked as a textile designer for Kenzo, I had always been obsessed with clothes and fashion, so it seemed an exciting way of combing my art skills.


How did you get the job you wanted- steps and process?

After graduating I was approached by M&S after student fashion week (to be honest I was a bit snobby about it but I needed the money!) I couldn’t afford to do an MA which would now be a matter of course (and something I regret). The M&S design team were mostly freelancers who were well connected and worked in other more exciting places. One of them suggested I meet the head designer at said design consultancy and take my portfolio. They gave me a job as freelance design assistant and I worked for them for about 8 years, I stayed as freelance so that I could pursue other design work. I produced lots of textile designs which sold through an agent, I also after a while started to work with designers doing prints for their RTW collections (often ones I‘d met who came in to work on collections I was working on). A friend connected me with Clements Ribeiro who were also designing Cacharel at the time and I became their main print designer. I had already decided to leave the design consultancy and set up my own studio at this point. For the next 10 or so years I had a pretty thriving business, mainly working for Clements but also for other designers, I also produced my own collection of printed accessories which did well, selling in the UK, Europe and japan. Basically, my career grew, a lot through word of mouth, the more work I did the more I got to know people – thus creating more work opportunities. Family commitments were my main reason for having my change in career and that’s why I now enjoy a slower work pace of making Ceramics.


What qualities do you need to have to be successful in your field?

You need to be artistic, able to draw and design – of course. But also, you need to be able to really listen to what people are trying to communicate and be part of a team. At the end of the day meetings and discussions when creating a RTW collection are often an attempt to communicate a visual image and aesthetic, how well you respond to the brief and how well you can take on board and be open to likes, dislikes and constructive criticism is the key to a successful team partnership.


Give 3 tips for someone hoping to follow in your footsteps:

Work Hard.

Be open to new experiences and ideas.

be bold and remember that creativity and visual aesthetic is subjective – for every person that doesn’t understand your work in the beginning, there will be somewhere that is the right fit for you so it’s worth persevering.

Be nice to people – it’s a small world – smaller than you think.


Who inspires you?:

The late Alexander McQueen, Iris Apfel, Peter Beard.