Textile designers influence our surroundings in quietly impactful ways. These artists are the unsung heroes who help us make a house a home or bring fashion designs to life. Arguably no fabric patterns are more iconic than those made by Liberty Fabrics, so we were delighted to learn that contemporary Liberty designers use Winsor & Newton ink, watercolour and gouache as part of their process. But just what is involved in the creative process of a textile designer?
A career in textiles is an established professional path for many artists, but there is a lack of guidance out there about how to begin and develop in this field. Liberty work with universities globally to support early career artists, carrying on a long-held tradition of helping artists develop their practice, following in the footsteps of artists such as Althea McNish. Fresh from the Royal College of Art, McNish was famously hired by Liberty, and went on to design fabrics for Balenciaga and Fendi, along with bespoke designs for Queen Elizabeth II.
The team at Winsor & Newton met some of Liberty’s current designers on a visit to the Winsor & Newton archive. They returned to hold a workshop in order to brainstorm ideas for the Spring/Summer 2023–24 collection of new fabrics. What became clear was that the creative process still starts with a brush, paper and, in this case, Winsor & Newton inks. The prevailing theme was nature; multiple floral motifs emerged as each artist used their unique way of mark-making to bring their designs to life. While the next steps will include a digital phase, the final textile samples from the mill will be compared to these physical works on paper before going into production. From observing this way of working, we also noticed the communal process of making, with the artists sharing ideas, chatting and working dynamically.
We are thrilled that Winsor & Newton is a go-to brand for Liberty designers, and we can’t wait to see these works on paper transformed into Liberty Fabrics.