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Building a Career as a Textile Artist


Reader, if you’ve come here because you’d like to embark on a career as a textile artist, we’d first like to congratulate you and then tell you that you’ve come to the right place to know more. Whether you’re just starting your research or are mid-way through your prosperous career, there’s always something to learn. We’ll show you how to start and build your career from start to success. 



Just What is a Textile Artist?

You probably already know the answer, but we’re including a brief overview for sake of completion. A textile artist is a creative professional that creates designs and patterns on fabric materials, including clothing, blankets, tapestries, curtains, upholstery, and more. They might work independently and sell their products and designs in their own shop, or design for a company or firm. 


How Do You Become a Textile Artist? 

There are a few paths to becoming a textile artist. You can be completely self-taught and set up your own shop without much training. You will still need some qualifications if you’d like to eventually work your way into a company. 


The second path is most textile creators start with education. Textile artist positions require a bachelor’s degree from a college. The curriculum will usually consist of courses to help you learn knitting, weaving, printing, basic principles and techniques for designing in each discipline, and graphic and computer-assisted design. Some schools may also set you up with a summer internship, where you’ll be working temporarily for a company to get real-world experience in textile design. If you do well and get along nicely with the company, they might extend a job offer after you graduate. 


Building a Design Portfolio

Whether you end up pursuing a bachelor’s degree or not, every artist–whether a sculptor, painter, copywriter, or internet creator–must have a portfolio. This is essentially your resume as an artist, and it’s what will grab your employer’s and customer’s attention. 


Place your best and proudest works in your portfolio, and be prepared to converse about them if questions come up in an interview. Remember that your portfolio will change with time; you should update it with newer works and adjust it according to the type of job you’re after. 


Printed vs Woven Textiles

You’ll learn everything you need about the fundamentals of textiles in your schooling, but one of the biggest distinctions in textiles is whether they’re printed or woven/knitted, and we wanted to mention it here. 


The difference is just as they suggest: printed textiles are pieces of fabric that have the design printed onto them via stamping, heating, or actual ink. Woven textiles actually have the design woven into the fabric with appropriately colored materials. Printed materials are cheaper to produce and can often be manufactured more quickly, making them ideal for larger production runs, like company-branded T-shirts. 


Woven textiles, as you can imagine, require greater craftsmanship to produce. The quality of the product is usually higher, and because the design is a part of the fabric itself, it won’t warp, rub, or fade off. This craftsmanship and more material tends to cost more than printed products, but lasts longer. Note that they’re not mutually exclusive, and some clever designers have combined printed and woven designs into the same product. 


Different Types of Textile Work

Now that you know the basics of becoming a textile artist, the essence of a design portfolio, and the distinction between printed and woven textiles, here’s a little bit about the different types of careers in the textile industry. Note that these are all in addition to freelancing and selling your work as a solo artist. 


Fashion Merchandiser

A fashion merchandiser is responsible for keeping the inventory and stock correct in a clothing or textile store. This usually comes with some manager and bookkeeping duties, as you’ll be responsible for ordering more product, and noting trends like bestsellers and stagnant merchandise. 


Illustrator

An illustrator is the actual designer and producer of the graphics and styles that end on clothing and textiles. They often specialize in producing a certain type of graphic: they might specialize in producing cartoon characters for merchandise, or chic minimalist designs. 


Textile Engineer

This is a sophisticated profession that requires training in engineering, but it’s arguably one of the most excellent textile jobs. Engineers are responsible for the chemical and mechanical processes of producing the materials, colors, and equipment used to create textiles. If you have a love of science and math in addition to your penchant for textiles, this might be the career for you. 


Fashion Designer

Fashion designers are the ones that create the actual designs of the dresses, tapestries, and upholstery you see in the shop window. They collaborate with the engineers and illustrators to choose the materials and graphics, and combine this with their textile design prowess to create pleasing clothing and fabrics. They often design for boutiques and companies, but may also have their own shops. 


Conclusion:

To wrap things up, whether you're at the beginning stages of textile artistry or you have already dabbled into the world of textile tapestries, we're excited and glad you've found your way here. From pinpointing the essence of textile artistry to creating your career path, we wanted to help offer information and guidance into the wonderful world of textile creations. As you take in all the information provided, remember there's always room to grow, learn, evolve, and weave your unique story of success. Reach out to our Artist Liaison team for questions about getting started!


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