Today we are excited to bring you a designer interview with Kirsten Katz, a textile and surface pattern designer based in Sydney and graduate of The Ultimate Portfolio Builder.
- When did your interest in design first start and how did that come about?
I have always had a love for patterns and textile design since my early childhood. Growing up I was always artistic and I loved art and craft classes, everything from pottery, sculpture, drawing, painting, copper art and even macramé and string art! I learned how to sew, knit, crotchet, do cross stitch and embroidery from my mother and grandmother. So I was always making things to either wear, display or to decorate in some way. In 2012 I decided to study Textile Design and it was during this year that I discovered my love of surface pattern design.
- What steps did you take to get to where you are now as a designer?
I have taken a very long roundabout way in pursuing my dream to become a designer. When I left school I continued studying ballet fulltime and went on to become a ballet teacher and aerobics instructor for several years. I then went into the jewellery industry with my husband for over 25 years running our own wholesale and retail businesses.
When my youngest child was in his final year at school I decided I wanted to study something as a personal interest. When my daughter was studying fashion design at The Fashion Design Studio she told me that there was a course in textile design and fabric printing which I may like to do. I decided to apply and I had to submit a portfolio of original art work as well as submit design patterns for three different products as part of the submission process. Nervously I waited for about 6 weeks until the letter came and I had been accepted!
What followed was an extremely intense full time year of study, design classes, drawing classes, colour theory, marketing and business classes, learning to screen print and also learning to design for digital printing. There was so much to absorb accompanied by endless assignments and design briefs. However I loved it and I dreamt pattern designs and worked day and night and most weekends whilst studying.
Since completing the textile design course I have set up my own design studio. I have completed further study and various other design and illustration courses and I am continuing to hone my design skills and signature style.
- How would you describe your style?
I would have to say my style is bold, graphic and stylised. I do a lot of hand drawn images for my designs which I combine with vibrant and contemporary colour palettes to create striking patterns that are on trend and modern.
- What kind of designer do you want to be known as?
Ideally I would love to be known as designer for the interior and home décor markets. A designer that creates quality products in a sustainable and ethical manner. I would love my designs to stand the test of time.
- What are you working on currently?
I am currently working on two collections of designs. One collection is a small range of designs for a bolt fabric collection and the other are some new designs which are aimed at the children’s market for girls and boys clothing and bedding. I am also planning a new collection for the interior market.
- What advice would you give emerging designers wanting to build their portfolios?
Always design in a small collection with a main design and a couple of coordinating prints because it will save you time to create several patterns and designs at the same time when you are on a flow with that theme and style. I would also advise to design for your strengths, natural ability and what really inspires you and be mindful of showing a variety of work and subject matter.
- What would be your dream design gig?
My dream design gig would be to be able to design seasonal collections for the interior and home décor market each year and have my designs on items like wallpaper, curtains, upholstery, bedding, soft furnishings, table cloths, linen, kitchen and dinnerware products which would be sold via a major retailer such as Anthropologie, Ikea and Crate and Barrel.
- Looking ahead what are your major goals for the next couple of years?
My major goals for the next couple of years are to focus on building my portfolio of designs for the three market areas I want to focus on and approach companies to work with on a license basis. The markets areas that I want to focus on are Home Interiors, Bolt Fabric and textile designs for Baby and Toddlers.
- If you were a pattern what kind of a pattern would you be and why?
I would definitely be a floral pattern. Not a ditsy or country garden style floral but a bold and dramatic floral with edgy and stylised flowers that celebrated being unique.
The Ultimate Portfolio Builder
- What was the most important lesson you took away from UPB?
There were many things I learned during the UPB but I think one of the best things I learned was how to narrow down your style, target market and audience and to zone in on your natural strengths and style. I realised that it is best to focus on developing a recognisable signature style which can be built into a brand that can be associated with certain markets and products, instead of trying to do too much and everything. I especially loved the drawing and design exercises in the first couple of weeks because it pushed me to draw and create in a different way. This process will provide endless possibilities for inspiration and themes to create designs and patterns for future collections to add to my portfolio.
- 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 really liked having the private Facebook group which was dedicated to the designers taking part in the UPB. It was really good to be able to share your work and progress with the other class members and get feedback, support and also advice when needed. You did not feel as though you were doing an online course at your own pace in isolation. I had the opportunity to get to know a lot of really talented designers and artists which was motivating and inspiring.
- Please tell us about your experience of the live briefs and student work reviews.
I really loved the live briefs as they provided the opportunity to create work and design for different markets and products. This was an extremely valuable experience as each company brief had different stipulations and requirements which had to be adhered to along with deadlines. It was great to have the feedback from the various companies about the design submissions as this now gives an insight into what things they look for when selecting work.
What I really liked about the student reviews was that everyone was able to learn from each other and watch the reviews from all the collections submitted. Feedback and advice from an industry professional is something you are rarely able to get and it was great that everyone was able to have an independent review of their work which now serves as a good reminder of design strengths for the future.
Kirsten is a textile and surface pattern designer based in Sydney, Australia. After studying Textile Design at The Fashion Design School in Sydney Kirsten launched a homewares brand Deco Katz and produced a range of designer cushions. Her portfolio of surface pattern designs is inspired by native flora and the natural environment and they incorporate botanical motifs, bold patterns, vibrant colour palettes and Australian themes and she is known for her hand drawn images, bold colour palettes and floral designs.
Amazed by what you see above from our talented students? Join our next class of The Ultimate Portfolio Builder which starts September 5, 2016.