Rachel Parker is an exciting young designer whose approach to fabric design via stitching is especially inspirational. Rachel describes herself as ‘a textile designer wrapped up in the world of embroidery, print and pixels.’ A recent graduate of Norwich University of the Arts, Rachel now works freelance from Northamptonshire. She designs prints for both fashion and interiors, and creates commissioned embroidery works on paper. You can visit Rachel’s stunning website.
Tell us a bit about your fabric designs, what are your inspirations?
The majority of my fabric designs start life as embroidery pieces; people are often surprised by this, as my prints are very geometric and digital. I’m in love with the handmade process of stitching, punching holes in paper, of drawing with needle and thread. Much of my recent work has been inspired by the process of cross-stitching and the memory of learning to stitch as a child, exploring the repetition of that simplest of mark, those two crossed threads. I like to bring the real life quirks of a handmade piece into the design, by scanning and digitally manipulating the stitches I’m able to create a body of work that’s more commercial and is able to be reproduced on a larger scale. This allows me to create my own unique collection of geometrics, a delicate balance digitally produced but with their roots in the world of craft.
Who produces your fabrics and where can we find them?
My work was spotted by Jo and Jenny of Flock Design Collective whilst exhibiting at New Designers in 2012. Flock is a relatively new enterprise that gives up-and-coming designers a creative platform and the chance to have their designs commercially produced under their own name. Jo and Jenny had worked in the Liberty furnishing department for many years, and had decided to take the plunge and start up their own business in order to fill the geometric gap in the interiors market. This was a fantastic opportunity for me to have my first design, Northmore, commercially printed and into stores worldwide. Our current stockists include Liberty, Heals and Studio Four NYC to name a few.
I also design fabrics for a fashion print studio, which is a valuable commercial experience. I’m welcoming licensing opportunities, and soon to be releasing designs online on a print on demand basis.
How did you become involved in Fabric design?
My first love was actually for children’s book illustration – illustrators like Eric Carle, Maurice Sendak and Lauren Child wowed me with their depictions of other worlds. I did an Art Foundation course at De Montfort in Leicester and experimented with everything from print-making to ceramics. I realised that my passion was for colour, collage, paper and pattern, that I love the process of sewing but hate using the sewing machine and that I was really excited about the tactile quality of fabric. With all this in mind I then studied textiles in Norwich.
Do you have other creative practices? How do these relate to your work as a designer?
I appreciate things that are handmade and beautifully crafted, and that’s a philosophy which feeds into my design work. Cross-stitching and embroidery take up a lot of my time, (I’m currently working on some designs for geometric cross-stitch patterns,) but I’d love to be a knitter and try and my hand at crochet. Knitting patterns have influenced many of my designs. I like to collage with paper patterns and play around with the idea of symbols and coding in print.
Do you have any advice for aspiring designers?
Make sure you have a network of people supporting you – being an independent designer can be an isolating existence! If possible, get involved in a studio, a work placement or collaborative project. Have an online presence and make the most of social networking.
Follow design blogs such as Colourful Beautiful Things, Confessions of a Design Geek, The Jealous Curator and Textile Artist, for inspiration and information. And The Design Trust is a fantastic online resource for new creative businesses.
Don’t expect everything to happen at once and, don’t lose sight of what you’re passionate about; when the ‘business’ side of being a designer starts to get a bit too much I try to follow my own advice and shove it all to one side, put the kettle on, and do a bit of cross-stitching until I feel sane again.
Bridgeen Gillespie AKA Cherry and Cinnamon is an illustrator, embroidery artist and sometime textile designer, she blogs at cherryandcinnamon.com
The Kingpin of Contemporary Embroidery. Committed to changing the way the world thinks about needlecraft.