Charlotte Purvis is based in London and has been a Printed Textile Designer for 13 years. She is always using her creative business mind to find new inspiration, new opportunities and a new way to share her creativity with the world. She spoke to Fashion Insiders about how she operates for success, how a Pomeranian puppy influenced a new business idea, and what inspires her as a designer.
As a freelance print designer, what do you do on a daily basis?
It really can vary from day to day which is what I love about being freelance. I could be painting, wandering around vintage shops, looking at Pinterest or the most recent catwalk collections for ideas.
What did you study to build the skills that you have?
I completed a BA Degree in Textile Design and Surface Decoration specialising in Print, at Buckinghamshire Chilterns University College.
I knew from an early age that I wanted an artistic career, so before that degree, I did a foundation degree in Art and Design, also at Buckinghamshire Chilterns University College, following a GNVQ in Art and Design at Havering Sixth Form College.
What personality traits do you need as a print designer?
You need to be confident and really believe in your work, as the industry can be quite tough to succeed in.
I have travelled to many trade shows throughout my career as a print designer. When you’re acting as a salesperson at trade shows you need to have a warm and friendly personality in order to communicate with the customers and to understand their needs when buying the prints.
What has been your favourite print design so far?
It’s difficult to say, as I have a varied style of handwriting, but I have always loved designing conversations (a conversational print is a design that is made of objects rather than a textile pattern) like geo or texture. It tells a story and is a conversation starter. For example, animals or a landscape print.
Anna Sui used a bird print of mine in the Resort 2014 Collection which I loved; they bought it from a salesperson representing my work.
How do you come up with ideas for your print designs?
As a designer, you never stop learning and being stimulated by what’s happening in fashion and what’s happening around you. I’m always getting ideas from the current ready-to-wear catwalk collections, but inspiration can come from anywhere: from a beautiful flower that I photographed in a garden, to fab colours or a print that I see someone wearing.
Travelling is also great. For example, I photographed and sketched palm trees on a recent trip to Thailand, and used them for a set of tropical designs.
How do you manage the back office side of freelancing?
I do most of this myself, but I do have an accountant that I use. This can change depending on who I’m working for.
Who are your customers?
My customers can range from UK High Street brands to a fabric converter based in Turkey.
I use sales agents to sell my designs, and they travel worldwide – so I recently sold some designs in Dubai which was exciting. It’s always really interesting when sales agents approach new markets.
My work is also being sold by my sales agents at the well-known design studio, Westcott, where I design for the Essentials range.
Do you have a plan for the year ahead?
I have the idea of developing my own range of printed pet accessories. It’s an idea that came about as a close friend asked me to design a print of her very cute Pomeranian, Pickle.
I’ve always had success with my quirky conversational prints, so it could be really interesting to use my skills as a fashion print designer for another market; the pet industry is growing rapidly.
What’s the best career advice that you have been given?
I remember being told that as a textile designer if you can draw or paint flowers, you can design any style of print.
What are you working on right now?
I’ve been freelancing for a well-known design studio for seven months, so I am working hard on building up my work for the collection. I am also designing for the Directions trade show in New York, and for a sales trip to Australia that is coming up.
Alongside this, I am researching the pet market in depth by attending trade fairs and speaking to people about ideas.
What do you wish people knew about you or your job?
I wish that people knew that not every brand has print designers within their company, and a lot of designs are bought from freelance print designers. So, as the print designers, we are actually at the very beginning of the creative process. When the design has been purchased the company then owns the copyright, and they can start the production process.
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