Interview with: A PRINT DESIGNER

This new ‘Interview With’ series speaks to people in varying careers to ask about their role and how they got there, to inspire others who may be at the stage of picking a career, or switching up their current one.

This week, we interviewed a print designer and heard what it’s like to see your designs on a clothing collection and why a Wacom tablet might be your pocket best friend…

  • WHAT IS YOUR JOB TITLE?

Junior Print Designer

  • HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN WORKING SINCE LEAVING FULL-TIME EDUCATION?

I’ve been working as a print designer for two and a half years at a small independent studio. However, before that I balanced a part-time job with internships for two years whilst living at home.

  • WHAT ARE YOU RESPONSIBLE FOR IN YOUR ROLE?

I’m responsible for producing fifteen to eighteen prints per week to go into the studio collection. This involves trend and inspiration research to find out what’s coming out on the catwalks and what buyers are looking for. We cover a wide range of styles from florals, tropicals, and conversationals to skins, paisleys, and abstracts! On Fridays we cut out all our printed fabric samples, then header and code them ready to be shipped off to buyers across the globe!

  • WHAT DOES A TYPICAL WORKDAY LOOK LIKE?

Prior to Covid-19 I used to get to our East London studio for 11am, sadly we had to give up the studio and switch to working from home as we couldn’t get a rent reduction during the first lockdown. So, I now start my day at my sunny, plant filled desk at home – 11am feels a lot more leisurely when there’s no commute! I’ll make myself a large coffee, then check my emails at 10:30am to see if there have been any references sent to me from my boss that I can work from. Once I have a good idea of what I’ll be designing that day, I’ll paint and draw enough imagery for four to five prints – this can be done on good old-fashioned paper and scanned in, or on Photoshop with my Wacom pad. From there, I’ll quickly cut out the scanned pieces in photoshop, neaten up the images and split them into different print files. I’ll then play about with the layout, colour scheme and scale, working back into any artworks that need more depth, until I’m happy with the overall result – et voilà! Save and repeat!

  • WHAT’S THE BEST PART OF YOUR JOB?

I love how varied the work can be, you have full creative control over what you design day to day. But the best part is spotting your prints out in the wild, it can often take six months to a year from selling the print to seeing it on the shop floor! I recently saw one of my marble prints on a beautiful silk dress at Hugo Boss – my biggest career highlight so far!

  • WHAT WOULD YOU TELL SOMEONE LOOKING TO GET INTO YOUR INDUSTRY?

I’d recommend really taking the time to build your portfolio – show that you can draw and paint using a variety of mediums, in a range of different styles. If you can, get some of your designs digitally printed onto fabric samples and header them ready for interviews, as prints always look better on fabric! Set up a website/ digital portfolio, it looks professional and its ready to be emailed to a prospective employer at a moment’s notice. And I’d recommend learning how to use a Wacom tablet, they make drawing in Photoshop a lot easier! 

  • WHAT ARE THE MAIN QUALIFICATIONS NEEDED FOR YOUR ROLE/INDUSTRY?

Ideally, you’ll want a degree in Print Design, Graphic Design, or Illustration. However, I had a degree in Textiles (Knitwear) and Fashion Design! If you have a strong portfolio that shows you are proficient in Photoshop and have great drawing skills, then that’s also a good way in.

  • WHO WAS YOUR ROLE MODEL GROWING UP?

My biggest role growing up model has to be my Mum, I don’t think I’d be nearly as creative if it wasn’t for her! Throughout my childhood, she’s always had some sort of creative, arty project on the go, from mosaicing to quilting to knitting! She taught me how to sew from an early age and helped me, probably a bit too much, with all my school art projects. I love that she still saves interesting fashion articles from the Sunday papers for me to read when I go back home!

  • IF YOU COULD GIVE YOUR YOUNGER SELF ANY ADVICE, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

I’d say to go for every opportunity that comes up as you never know where it might take you! Don’t put off trying something new, even if you’re worried about how it will turn out! Getting out your comfort zone, and just starting, is the only way you’ll progress and grow. Try to do as many internships whilst you’re still studying – it builds up your CV and experience before you start looking for a job and gives you a chance to experience lots of different job roles and work environments. 

  • PAY RANGE IN £ (TOTAL PACKAGE): 

A = up to 20k

B = 21-30k (for a Junior role) <- <- <- <-

C = 31-50k
D = 50-70k
E = 70k +

Most studios are commission-based. You can freelance which is only commission based and you’ll sometimes have to pay for the printing of your samples depending on which company you work for. Or in house which is a base salary plus a lower percentage commission.