Today, we have a designer interview with Sue Deighton, a graduate of our Design School. Based in the North West of England, Sue has a background in fine art printmaking and exhibiting and uses bold, retro-inspired patterns in her designs.
When did your interest in design first start and how did that come about?
Initially my interest in design was sparked by my love of books as a child and the bright, bold illustrations of artists such as Eric Carle, Dick Bruna and Roger Hargreaves. I spent hours drawing the characters from books and creating my own illustrated stories. This fostered a love of drawing that developed into a passion for art and design, which to this date is inspired by book illustration, film and animation.
What steps did you take to get to where you are now as a designer?
After graduating with a degree in painting and printmaking I exhibited and sold my work in local and national galleries taking part in various exhibitions and competitions. During this time I also designed and led workshops in galleries and schools promoting drawing and textile design to children. This was a great insight into creativity where imagination and play were at the forefront of creating images.
As the result of a desire to combine my love of print, typography, colour and pattern in a commercial field I chose to focus on the creative process of pattern design. I completed the first three modules of The Art & Business of Surface Pattern Design together with the Lilla Rogers Make Art That Sells course in 2012/13. I also recently took part in the Make It In Design Summer School which has been a fantastic opportunity to expand my portfolio of work.
What was the most important lesson you took away from “The Art and business of Surface Pattern” e-course?
I learnt the importance of continual experimentation and observation. Recording visual cues such as colour combinations and images on mood boards has helped enormously in my design process and developing a signature style. I have found inspiration in notes, photographs and drawings I have recorded and believe this enables me bring to each new piece of work a vast bank of influences collated over time. I believe as artists and designers we are an accumulation of all our visual and emotional experiences to date and this cannot help but add the valuable element of authenticity to every image you create.
What difference did it make to have a supportive community of fellow students and how important do you think that will be going forward?
It was great to see the huge variety of responses to a design brief and the experience of being part of a group with different levels of experience gave me the freedom and confidence to ask questions, share experiences and encouraged me to keep designing with the support of like-minded people. Just one informed, positive comment can spur you on when you are struggling to find the right direction within a piece of work. The experience of being part of this community also taught me the value of social media in designing and the support it can provide.
How would you describe your style?
My design work is hugely influenced by Scandinavian and 1960s print. I produce bold, simple designs based on these styles, combining striking motifs with contemporary palettes.
In direct contrast my hand printed mono screen pieces are centered on space, light, tone and texture to create an atmosphere of calm. I believe both styles are a reflection of my layered approach to building a final image.
What kind of designer do you want to be known as?
A commercially successful designer of contemporary, bold designs with an instantly recognizable unique style across all mediums.
What are you working on currently?
A series of collage-based prints combining vintage fabrics, photography & hand drawn motifs for children’s fashion and home ware.
What advice would you give emerging designers wanting to build their portfolios?
Signing up for courses like The Art and Business of Surface Pattern Design and entering design competitions provides you with the challenge and opportunity to design outside your comfort zone, make contact with fellow designers and learn new skills all whilst building up content for your portfolio. I have found that every time I have set myself a design-led challenge I have learnt some thing new about myself and subsequently my work.
What would be your dream design gig?
A licensing deal from a Scandinavian design studio – if I am dreaming really big, working with Marimekko would be amazing.
Looking ahead what are your major goals for the next couple of years?
To exhibit at Surtex, have a design collection featured on a wide range of products and to develop my own range of season-led limited edition prints.
If you were a pattern what kind of a pattern would you be and why?
A funky, bold BIBA print – 1960s retro inspired by classic 1920s design.
I am a surface pattern designer based in the North West of England. I graduated from Manchester Metropolitan University with a degree in painting and printmaking, where I specialized in producing large-scale mono screen prints. I have exhibited my work both locally and nationally and alongside this have worked in the arts sector in various roles throughout my career to date. I am a mum of two children, who continually inspire me by their excitement and wonder at the world. I am currently working on developing my design portfolio and looking for worldwide licensing opportunities.