Posts tagged textiles

My friend, incredibly talented print designer Charlotte Allen has launched her new website, charlotte-allen.com and its looking incredible. After working for Paul Smith, Bolongaro Trevor and other big names in fashion, she is now full-time freelance and working on some exciting new projects. All the very best to her.

Directional ladies fashion prints

I’m working on ladies fashion today which makes a nice change from kids and nightwear. The brief (and I use that term loosely - when I do ladieswear, I rarely get a nice clear, specific brief) calls for etherial, ambiguous imagery with hand sketch and paint techniques. I always struggle when I’m faced with this kind of project as in essence its got to look like nothing, but its still got to be something and that’s a real challenge.

I’m enjoying splashing the paints around and doing some hand rendering though, and the eagle design above it the fruits of this mornings labours. I’ve got to produce at least another 3 in that vein though so I’d better get on…

Paisley Park

A paisley design for the tribal brief…

Floral repeat prints and checks or maybe plaids?



I’ve been working on these allover repeat prints today, and some checks (or plaids for the American English). I find designing checks really theraputic but harder than they look.


I’ve been inundated with work requests the last couple of days from my regular clients and I’m now booked solid for the next couple of weeks which is great. looks like my self-directed illustration is going to put on the back burner for quite some time.

Designing fashion graphics step-by-step guide

I thought I’d show how I go about putting together my fashion graphics. This is just one process of a variety I use. I usually do most of my nightwear this way.


1. I compile a basic placement layout in Illustrator. I then put this into a very light greyscale and print it out.


2. I then sketch the characters onto the basic layout print.


3. I trace over the sketch in ink (I sometimes repeat this process a few times till I’m happy they’re just right).



4. The ink sketch is then scanned in as a 300dpi bitmap and converted to greyscale in Photoshop. I usually play around with the lines in photoshop until I’m happy with them. I use a wacom pen tablet for all of my digital drawing. I then turn it back into a bitmap which I think gives the best results when live tracing.


5. I copy the bitmap and paste into the Illustrator layout document. I then live trace the design and neaten up the lines again.


6. I then compile the design in Illustrator and label any applique or embellishment elements.


7. I then use the print elements to create a complimentary all-over repeat design. I like to present the designs mocked up onto garments so I create a pattern tile of the repeat and apply that to the pyjama bottoms. I could scale down the placement print and use that on a t-shirt blank, but this would make the file larger. instead, I export the illustrator placement artwork into photoshop on a transparent background, save as a .png and then place that back in illustrator.

Working in this way means I get a nice un-uniform line quality that is still controlled and smooth. I neaten up my lines at every opportunity. One of my bugbears is rogue vectors and nasty jerky lines. I work in very different ways when creating watercolour style prints or photo-realistic textural designs. I might write a step-by-step guide on those one day!

Bread & Butter work - commercial nightwear

I’ve been working on high-volume commercial nightwear today. Above is one of the pyjama sets I designed. While this might not be the most cutting-edge, it is enjoyable and straightforward. And essentially, I’m still getting paid to sit and draw pictures all day.

The other day I blogged about feeling saddened by the poor standard of illustration and technical skill in commercial nightwear, pictured left are two of the sets I was shown as examples of bestsellers (these are not my designs). Well I guess we just have to give the public what they want!

Britain’s Got Talent brief nears completion & more work for Adams

Sometimes I’ll enjoy a brief so much more than others and find it really easy to complete, and theres no obvious reason why. the Britain’s Got Talent project has been one of these. Perhaps its a combination of a good client, who in turn has a good client, both really decisive and constructive. Above is a watercolour sketch design for boyswear based on the one I already did for girlswear which they loved

Hopefully this latest round of amendments and recolours is the last and the project will be signed off.

I had a lovely email from the designer at Adams with some great feedback on the recent watercolour designs I completed for her and a request for lots more work from me. Adams is another good client, with concise design briefs and clear design direction, and not too unnecessarily picky so I’m looking forward to the next couple of weeks working with them.

Pick of the new prints at Urban Outfitters, Lost in London & Susie Ghahremani


My London trip was very worthwhile, dispite getting lost in the Elephant & Castle subway system and getting to the LCC too late to get in to see the Images33 exhibition. Luckily, the show is touring so I will catch it later in the year at Birmingham or Nuneaton.

I did manage to do all of the other things I’d planned though. I met with my customer who I design nightwear for. I had mixed feelings after the meeting. While I’m really upbeat about the fact they’ve managed to secure some new business and have plenty of work for me, I couldn’t help feeling downhearted about the quality of graphics they’re using as design direction.

Perhaps its a result of working at Next and enjoying real investment in beautiful design, but the placements and appliques the nightwear customers are settling for is truly dire. This level of the market is always going to be more commercial, I always accepted that this easily accessible mass-appeal design isn’t going to push any design boundaries.

It struck home more than ever yesterday that the designs I’m being asked to create versions of and the ones being manufacted by my customer which have been created by my peers are saddeningly poor. I’m trying not to dwell on it too much though and the only thing I can do is try and keep my designs to a standard I’m proud of regardless of customer.

I also made it to the Dover Book Shop which exceeded all expectations. Kid in a sweet shop doesn’t even come close. I’ll save the details for another day…

Urban Outfitters is probably my favourite retailer. The store is like a treasure trove especially when you don’t have one nearby and only get to visit on the odd occasion. It quenches my relentless thirst for constant newness and while many of their lines don’t appeal to me directly as a customer, I find it all pure gold from a design-inspiration perspective. I got the images at the top of this entry of my favourite prints currently in store and had there been any Ps left in the filigree 3-d alphabet, I wouldn’t have been able to restrain myself. Instead I had to settle for a hen-adorned hook rack from Top Shop to satisfy my newfound compulsion to procure obscure objet.



I also bought this set of notecards by Susie Ghahremani, my latest inspirational illustrator. Her work is so lovely. I’m dying to put pen to paper but I’m now booked up till late next week which is great from a paying-the-bills point of view but not so good for developing a self-directed body of work…

Ikea fabrics

My crafty friend Anna has found the most fabulous fabric in a most unexpected place, Ikea. It has further fuelled my desire to get working on some repeat prints for a small run of fabric from spoonflower. If only I could ever get this Britain’s Got Talent brief finished….


Watercolour designs for Adams

I’m back to the days of burning the midnight oil again. Which is no bad thing considering. This week I’ve been working on a real mixed bag, fistly some branding and World cup Ts for Tu Clothing, and today I’ve been splashing the paints around to create the watercolour print above for Adams girlswear. The rest of the week I’m back to Britain’s Got Talent, the boys range this time. And there was I thinking that with the downturn I’d finally get chance to enjoy working on some self directed projects. Maybe next week…

Next Childrenswear designs in store now

Childrenswear designs I started working on for Next almost a year ago are starting to filter through into the shops. Heres a couple on the Next.co.uk website…


Its rewarding to see them finally on sale…

Latest design at Warehouse & Britain’s Got Talent


Its nice to see my back catalogue still bearing fruit. This is one of my designs created when I worked in-house for a supplier.
Today I’ve started work on a new project for one of the Licensed Clothing companies I design for. We’re putting together a style guide for Britain’s Got Talent and I’m currently working on graphics for a range of girls’ apparel. Variety is the spice of life and all that!

New Lost My Dog Premium Range…

I’ve teamed up again with UK House Music label Lost My Dog to create a premium range of clothes and accrssories. The emphasis is on unique, hand rendered pieces of illustration to represent the brand. We’re launching with 4 exciting new designs and plan to regularly update the range with new one-off designs.

Check out the shop here

Branding for ITV’s Rainbow Magic, Charlotte Allen & I ♥ Julia Pott


After a steady start to the year (compared to the regular 60+ hour weeks of last year that is) things seem to be gathering momentum, particularly on the nightwear and licensed side of things. I’m working on some exciting new projects for ITV in particular, rainbow magic garment branding images above.

I’ve also been inspired to try and find time to do some more personal work prompted by the amazing illustrations and animations of Julia Pott. I also have been inspired this week after visiting my friend Charlotte Allen who is currently working on a fabulous range of digital prints for her Fashion MA which incorporate her beautiful drawings inspred by nature and eclectic vintage pieces.

I count myself lucky every day that I get to draw pictures for a living, but all of my work is extremely commercial, great because it pays the bills, but by its nature quite limiting. I’m hoping to find time to work on some more self-directed projects over the coming months.

Lovely lightboxes


Well today was the first time in over a year of self-employment that the benefits of being an employee resonated. Oysters officially disagree with me, but theres no sick pay for me and the briefs aren’t going to complete themselves.

I have managed to add quite a bit more to the gallery today too, and thanks to Tom at Double D Creative my lightboxes are fully functional, not just on my own browser! Menswear, surf and teen are starting to bulk out but its time consuming work going through an archive of thousands of artworks in an attempt to pick just a few representatives. Completion seems a distant dream. And I keep thinking of more sub-categories for the site; all over repeats… nightwear… embellishments………