If you’re looking to develop a career in textiles and would like to undergo some related training, it helps to know early on which courses are worth considering. We’ll be showcasing some of the options over the coming months and decided to start by introducing three of the best textile artist degree courses in the UK and Ireland.
Central St Martins College of Arts and Design in London has a long and proven record. Internationally renowned as an art college and cultural centre in one, it is famous for the creative energy of its students, staff and graduates. It has long held a reputation for providing one of the top textile art degrees in the UK.
The BA (Honours) Textile Design course at Central St Martins is based around exploring print, knit and weave, the three essential textile design practices. There is also a strong focus on non-traditional methods including digital design, as well as presentation and trend prediction. The course offers a wide range of complementary workshops investigating alternative surface treatments, media and technologies. St Martins aims to maximise the student’s creative and intellectual potential, enabling them to develop a unique design philosophy and challenge conventions.
BA Textile Design is a full-time undergraduate course (based in London) and runs for 90 weeks over three years. It has three specialist pathways – Knit, Print and Weave. Whichever pathway is chosen, there’s a strong focus on the development of the students as individuals. Students are expected to take initiative and nurture their own ideas leading to increasing independence as the course progresses, meaning there is no ‘right way’ to be successful.
Main study – Stage One: Stage One is an introductory stage and concentrates on all three areas of specialization; print, weave and knit. There is also a focus on enabling students to carry out visual research. During Stage One (three terms) students move from introductory design workshops through to a succession of structured and guided projects. The aim of the projects is to explore the ideas of research, drawing, colour, design and technical skills. There are also opportunities to develop techniques in digital and non-traditional approaches to design, structure and surface.
Main study – Stage Two: During this stage, students undertake thorough research, which should enable them to apply the skills and knowledge gained in Stage One and embrace the challenges of transforming ideas into pieces of textile work. In the second term, students begin to focus more specifically on knit, print or weave. Each of the three specialisms has unique characteristics and requirements with regards to their subject knowledge. Stage Two of the course also involves extending professional and contextual knowledge of textile design for fashion, accessories, interior, exterior and product applications and students will learn about market research, range building and promotional presentation.
Main study – Stage Three: The final year of the Textile Design BA encourages students to assess and address their strengths and weaknesses prior to beginning their final degree project. The heavily structured nature of the first two years is replaced increasingly by a self-disciplined approach towards the realisation of a major project. However, guidance and advice are always readily available. This is also the time that students develop a strong portfolio and collection, which count towards the degree examination and public show.
Graduates pursue a range of careers, often becoming designers, designer-makers, researchers, buyers, stylists and illustrators. Some work in concept and trend forecasting, others in theatre or journalism. Many students go on to postgraduate study.
Manchester School of Art (at Manchester Met) is one of the largest providers of art and design education in the UK. The school offers an extensive range of resources and works in close conjunction with various well-respected external organisations.
The BA (Honours) Textiles in Practice programme at the Manchester Met is structured around an understanding of professional contexts, including fashion, interiors, exhibition and architectural installation. The aim is to allow students to approach textiles as a flexible and varied medium; specialist study is available in print, knit, weave, and embroidery.