Insights & Inspiration

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In my experience: Susie Foster

16 June 2012 by TexSelect in Fashion

Susie Foster (Texprint 2010) is a freelance textile designer, specialising in mixed media. Drawing is the foundation of her practice and her delicate, sensitive pencil studies are often snapped up in their own right. Here Susie shares her insights into launching a career in design:

I work on a lot of different projects at one time.

I’ve created new prints for the Surtex fabric exhibition in New York. I’m developing needle punched fabrics for the spring/summer 2012/13 collection for menswear designer Manish Bansal. And I am working on accessories ideas with Sandra Murray, a Scottish designer I met at [textile design show] Indigo, Paris. I’ve also just designed a greetings card for the Barbican shop.

Susie Foster pleated textile detail

Being a freelance designer isn’t an easy option.

I feel incredibly lucky to be doing something I enjoy. Although there are some low moments, there are great days too and that’s what keeps me going. It can be tough staying positive and motivated but I was prepared for that – it’s a really competitive industry.

It’s hard to switch off.

Working as a freelancer means there can be a lot of uncertainty, which can be stressful. I’m glad I’m not on the nine to five treadmill, but it can be really difficult to switch off and take a break, especially if you live and work in one location. There’s also all the non-creative work that comes with being self-employed, dealing with tax, chasing payments etc, luckily my sister is a tax adviser, which helps.

Susie Foster: printed and pleated textile.

A typical day is a varied mix of the creative and the necessary.

I try to get a balance of the less interesting bits (invoices, emails etc) and the creative side (drawing, making, research etc). I enjoy the freedom and variety; it’s great to be in charge of your own time and to work on a range of projects. I like new challenges and working with different people, it’s exciting – and keeps you moving forward.

I’m inspired by nature, artists and the unexpected.

My inspiration can come from something quite unexpected but most frequently it’s found in nature. I find the patterns, processes and structures of the natural world are a never-ending source of inspiration. Also, the work of artists such as Antony Gormley, Bridget Riley, Mark Rothko, Eva Hesse, Andy Goldsworthy, Louise Bourgeois… it’s an endless list!

Susie Foster insect drawing

I love drawing and experimenting with materials and varied techniques. 

During my MA studies at the RCA I started to explore scale, creating larger pieces, considering new ways of making and thinking a lot more broadly. I also started working with needle punching and it’s remained a favourite technique. I think it has a lot of potential still to be explored and I like that process of continual discovery. I still try to draw every day – it’s crucial to my textile work but it would be great to start exhibiting and selling pieces as an artist.

My Texprint experience in 2010 was hugely beneficial.

It was fantastic being chosen for Texprint. Just from the interview I got some great feedback and advice and made a contact that led to the sale of two large pieces from my portfolio. To show at Indigo was invaluable; I sold four pieces and met people that I continue to work with now.

Susie Foster: embroidery design for menswear designer Manish Bansal. Far right: butterfly pencil study

My plan is to keep going and keep the variety in my work.

I want to continue with my collaborative work for fashion and also to sell print designs. It would be amazing to work at couture level, where practicality is less of an issue and there’s more opportunity for elaborate and experimental textiles. I’d love to see my fabrics on a McQueen or Vivienne Westwood catwalk!

I’m working on some more of my own interior art pieces and developing my origami collages for print. I’d love to work with the Rug Company to produce designs for interiors. I’d also like to devote more time to drawing as an end in itself. I’ve been involved with teaching and community arts projects too and that’s something I also want to do more of.

Textile graduates need to persevere.

New graduates need to realise that it might take a long time to get where you want to be – but you can enjoy the journey and learn a lot along the way.

http://www.susiefoster.com/

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