I first learnt about the design process at college. For each fashion or textiles project we had not only to produce the finished item (garment or length of printed fabric or constructed textile) but the artwork that led up to our finished design. Well, that was the theory, anyway. Anyone who has recently completed a course in art or design (or whose children have done so) will now be familiar with this as these days it is common practice. In the early seventies, though, it was my first experience of this. And it really wasn't how I worked. So, like others who worked as I did, having had the idea of what I was going to make soon after receiving the brief, I then worked on my 'design' folder, doing the sort of sketches, colour swatches, tests, etc that a person might have done to get the idea I ended up with.
This method never stopped me getting A grades, so it has a lot to recommend it. Indeed, I used to teach it to GCSE students who found themselves knowing what they wanted to make at the beginning of the project and not having the first clue what was supposed to go in their design folder. It seems to me that if you're lucky enough (and I am lucky in this) to get the best ideas just like that, you should go with them. Not using those ideas and working painfully through the design process to arrive at something less pleasing would be silly. This is not to say that if you find a better idea during the backwards design process you shouldn't go with it; you should. It's just that it never happened to me.
These days I do some preparatory sketches now and then. I have a sketchbook for my textiles ideas. My current one is about half full. I began it in 1999
I know these were ideas for wallhanging borders. I also know they were never used.
In those days I used to set aside a bit of time for some background work during the year, so the theory was that I had some designs I could call on later, but after a few years of not using most of the ideas I had sketched, I moved on to sketching things that I knew I was going to need and that's the way I've worked ever since. Some years I haven't even added to the book at all.
At the end of my last blog post I included a photo of a black and white butterfly on a thistle. A friend suggested that this would make a lovely scarf design. I wasn't sure I was up to it as it's quite a different idea from the designs I've made so far, however it felt a little like a gauntlet being thrown down so naturally ....
And I'm really rather pleased with it. The design process in action. From there to here.