When I tell people what I do for a living their reactions generally fall into one of 2 categories;
1).The Appreciators – “wow! what a cool job!” (genuinely curious and immediately accepting of an ‘arty’ career)
2).The Disbelievers – “is that even a real job?” (feigning interest and stifling laughter)
Sadly, so often design is hugely undervalued by non-creatives and yet if it were really that easy to come up with imaginative concepts day in, day out, surely everyone would be capable and thus eliminate the need to employ a designer in the first place?! My very good friend and Graphic Designer, Michelle Abrahall, has recently written a great article on this which you can read here.
Today however, I don’t want to dwell on the ‘non-believers’ of this world! Today I would like to share the best part of this job and that is to see your designs actually out there, selling well and being worn.
I mentioned in my last post that one of my designs was about to be delivered and last week I was able to see it first-hand, in-store, on a visit to London. I know it’s not groundbreaking and it won’t be winning any awards this year, but it is commercial and on trend which means at least it’s got half a chance of selling!
To all those friends, family, (especially my wonderful parents), and ‘appreciators’ who have always encouraged my creativity, here is just a tiny, little success story, but one which I am still immensely proud of. And to all those who thought my career a funny one: who’s laughing now…?! 😉
Over the last few months one of my favourite projects has been to develop a new range of men’s vulcanised shoes for AW15. My initial ideas can be found below. They were subsequently developed into CADs, then spec sheets and finally the samples we have ultimately been busy showing customers. It’s always exciting seeing a 2D design come to life as a 3D shoe and it’s so satisfying to be able to present the final samples to clients and see the reactions first-hand!
It’s all a bit hush-hush still at this stage as these shoes aren’t in stores yet but I’ll update with photos once they become available!
I love that my job involves travelling to awesome places and for AW15, I was able to visit one of the fashion capitals, Berlin, for some serious shoe inspiration! The city itself is brimming with art, design and creative-types and right at the heart of this is the Mitte area, where I stayed. (Thanks @GeneratorHostel for a great couple of days).
It’s important to feed creativity so it’s great to leave the office, experience some culture then return to work with fresh eyes and renewed enthusiasm. Here’s some snaps and mood boards from my trip…
It’s taken me a little while to write this up but I’m now back in the UK and working on Men’s footwear again! For the past few weeks I’ve been settling in and getting my teeth into a fantastic role on the Sales/Product Development side of things which involves lots of factory-chasing, design development with our in-house Designer and face-to-face customer contact.
As part of this, one of my first tasks was to attend the AW14 Press Day of one of our biggest customers, Primark. Their collection for AW14 was inspired by a magical journey around Ireland, (birthplace of the Primark chain), and called “Adventure Awaits.”
On womenswear, there was a wonderful palette of wintery, pastel hues, metallic fabrics, thick chunky soles and bold, statement jewellery. On men’s the feeling was a mixture of sport, heritage and the great outdoors ranging from formal brogue footwear, to casual desert boots and sporty, running trainers.
Here are some snaps from the event, including a few rather delicious foodie-shots! (I blame my sweet tooth…!)
A. When she’s designing gloves!
That’s right, this week I have been asked to sketch a couple of ski gloves and a football goalie glove for a company not too far away, in Bolzano. It was quite a nice challenge that prompted me to ask myself, if I can design shoes, what else can I design? And can a designer interchange easily between one field and another? I think they can. If you can understand the design process, you can then apply your knowledge of trends, timescales, dealing with factories and liaising with clients to so many different products. If you are capable of designing, I think you can design almost anything; you just need to study the construction of something to understand the technical aspects that will be a fundamental part of that design.
Anyway, I’ve decided to post my first attempts at technical gloves. Obviously, my knowledge of the technical construction is pretty limited but aesthetically I am pleased with the outcomes. See what you think!
Designers and Creatives are often stereotyped as being secretive about their work but, often, I think it’s a protective response to past criticisms; self-preservation, of which I at times have also been guilty.
When you work in a creative field, people are very quick to tell you when they don’t like something but rarely have the ability to accompany this ‘feedback’ with anything constructive. It’s easy to say that something doesn’t work or you don’t like it but when you have to rationalise these thoughts and specify why, it’s more difficult.
One of the hardest things to accept about designing is that it’s so subjective: what pleases one person, won’t please another and more to the point, ‘you can’t please everyone, all of the time.’ As a designer, it’s important to grow a thick skin right from the beginning because there will always be those who criticise your work. That’s not to say that there aren’t positive reactions too however – there is no better feeling than hearing what a success your design has been and how well the shoe has sold – but every time you present a design, you are opening yourself up to criticism and sometimes it can be really intimidating.
Having said all of this, I love looking through the sketchbooks of other designers; not to copy or steal ideas of course, but just for the pure curiosity of seeing how another creative mind works. It’s really interesting to see how other people develop their thoughts into designs and to understand what inspires them.
In light of this, I’ve decided to publish a few extracts from my sketchbook! No elaborately-worked paintings or finished samples here – just literally the first marks of a pencil and drafts of an idea. Obviously, I hope you will enjoy looking at them but then again if you don’t, I can take your criticism, just make sure it’s constructive! 😉
As I often get asked this question, (and the standard response is pretty much always “everywhere”), I decided to share a couple of designs that I finished last week, inspired by a table!
Sometimes ideas come out of nowhere; a piece of furniture, the colours on a magazine page, the pattern on a man-hole cover; but what’s also interesting is where they go afterwards. The ‘design-development’ can begin on one path, inspired by an idea that then evolves and takes a completely different direction and that’s what’s so exciting about the creative process! Even unused designs are rarely thrown away, but often re-worked, developed in more detail or simply saved for the right moment, revived thanks to newly-found inspiration.
The most important part of designing is to keep feeding the creativity – be it from exhibitions, magazines, the internet, a poster, a cigarette packet, a car wheel….. you never know where the next great idea may come from!
Another theme emerging in AW14 is influenced by Fim Noir and 1940s Hollywood. In honour of this, I’ve created a new mood board and a few women’s shoe designs…
It’s been a while since I posted some new designs so I thought it was time for some new drawings. These pick up where my last post left off – the 1950s – but with a modern twist. The AW13 catwalks hinted at this trend thanks to 50s-inspired designs from, amongst others, Miu Miu, Prada and Rochas.
My love for this decade won’t wain and discovering that there is a definite 50s flavour for AW14 has inspired me to put together a little mood board. To get me in the mood, I also listened to some fantastic rockabilly covers by our amazingly-talented friends Billy and the Crazy Dogs (who you can see below and check out on Facebook here)!
Other decades trending for womenswear next season are the 1960s (esp. houndstooth), 1970s (psychedelic prints and boho references) and the 1940s for its’ Hollywood glamour. Watch this space for some 50s designs coming soon!