Today we are delighted to share with you an interview with Zoe Elsdon a UK based designer who is a graduate of The Ultimate Portfolio Builder which she took in September 2015.
When did your interest in design first start and how did that come about?
My art and design interest flourished back in my early teens, noticing colour and detail in all my surroundings. I always acknowledged the print before the product, but only became aware of the surface pattern career route while looking at university degrees years later. The Textile Design course caught my interest ticking every box for how I would like to portray my art to the public. Once informed about the course structure and career possibilities, I knew it was what I wanted to do.
What steps did you take to get to where you are now as a designer?
Once I knew I wanted to become a textile designer, I researched into part academic design courses admitting students without a foundation, finding the University of Leeds. Accepted on the course, I graduated top of my year gaining awards. It was hard work, constantly pushing myself to improve my artistic abilities, finding my signature style, but when you study something you love it is never a burden! After graduating I took various design jobs and internships to uncover what type of company I would like to design for, or if to freelance, while learning about the industry. A year ago I committed to freelancing, and this year have launched my own pattern design & illustration studio.
How would you describe your style?
My style is mostly realistic decorative conversationals, with the watercolour and pen based designs having more of a Chinoiserie feel. The majority of my designs are hand drawn with a natural palette, but for certain markets I do like to create more CAD based, brighter illustrations too.
What kind of designer do you want to be known as?
I would love to be known as a passionate designer, creating uplifting patterns that connect to the customer through the designs, bringing something new into the market, with a unique and recognisable brand.
What are you working on currently?
I am currently working on new prints for my next muslin square collection, alongside some new products for this winter! I wish I could say more, but it has to stay secret for now.
What advice would you give emerging designers wanting to build their portfolios?
Experiment and create as much as you can. Always make sure your signature style shows through, but try out new methods or styles you wouldn’t normally do to expand your portfolio. You may go back to your go-to style, and that is absolutely fine, but you just might find you like designing in another way too. Most of all have fun and love what you do. Your passion will shine through your work and make a connection with someone, and at the end of the day that is what surface pattern is about – sharing your passion and allowing it to connect with another person.
What would be your dream design gig?
There are so many dream design gigs, but I have to say the top two would be to collaborate with a baby buggy brand, and a wallpaper company. There are so many great companies out there that I would love to collaborate with and design exclusive collections for!
Looking ahead what are your major goals for the next couple of years?
The aim is to expand on the muslin collection, increasing the range of designs and products available, and redesign more essentials that are missing a burst of watercolour style print. I always said I would love to have my own wallpaper and bedding collection too, so hopefully I can incorporate that in future collections.
If you were a pattern what kind of a pattern would you be and why?
I think I would have to be some sort of conversational involving loose ink drawn flying birds, with a lot of layers and a natural palette – Living by National Trust land I love that feeling of freedom surrounding the views, and the layers… well, I like to think there is a bit of depth to me.
What was the most important lesson you took away from UPB?
Experiment, as there are no mistakes. Everything you create can be used. Even if you don’t like a motif you have created, keep it, as it could be used in the background for a future design, or just might become a beautiful pattern on its own, in a style you wouldn’t have tried before. Just make sure when creating a collection that your designs work together, and suits the market you are designing for. Even though everything you have created can be used, it doesn’t mean it can be used together!
What difference did it make to have a supportive community of fellow students and how important do you think that will be going forward?
I think having a supportive community is very important. Your design ability improves by having others to talk your designs through to, and you progress so much more having others there. If you don’t share your work and thoughts with others, then you don’t know how your designs will be received out in the world, but with a community they can give you ideas to tweak your patterns, and you can do the same back. As everyone is at different stages in the design process, you support one another. It is just lovely spending time talking to likeminded people who understand your CAD woes, can give handy tips for design blocks you have, and inspire you to create.
Please tell us about your experience of the live briefs and student work reviews. (sorry I didn’t do a student work review)
The live briefs were an amazing part of the course! It really allowed you to try all aspects of surface pattern design, and experience what it is like to juggle different design briefs with similar deadlines, really pushing you to be the best you can. It is intense, but that is what is so great about it, you are constantly thinking about designing, how you can improve what you are doing, and checking your collection really works together for the brief and market you have been given. The best bit about it all is the community. You all help one another out, and you get to see what others are creating with the same brief. For me it has always been community over competition, and this course is just that. You get to help others along their design journey, and they do the same for you. It is so wonderful to see someone creating a repeat with motifs you would have never thought to create, and how well it works.
Zoe Olivia Elsdon Ltd is a newly launched pattern design & illustration studio, creating busy, contemporary, stimulating designs with a unique style for multiple product surfaces, all with you in mind.
Baby muslin squares are the start of the collection. Made from the softest pre-washed cotton, they are gentle on your baby’s skin while being strong enough for daily use, in unique modern designs that both caregiver and child will love. These patterns are created from Zoë’s watercolour designs, and are bursting with colour, showing more print than white muslin, and are beautifully presented too.
Amazed by what you see above from our talented students? Join our latest class of The Ultimate Portfolio Builder – today is the last day to register!.