Hello! I am glad to have a talented English designer, Jacqueline Milton, as my blog guest today! I hope you enjoy the interview!
Jacqueline works as a freelance home textile designer, designing patterns for bedding, table top, home décor, paper, wall coverings and more! She works from her studio in Dorset, UK, surrounded by beautiful countryside.
Did you feel you wanted to be a designer since you were a child? Did you have a strong vocation for it?
I’ve always loved drawing since an early age but actually wanted to be a pilot! When it became clear that this probably wasn’t an option I thought it would be interesting to either illustrate biology books or become involved with maps (I love detail).
Patterns designs licensed by Kessinhouse
Tell us something about your background. Are you a self-taught designer? Have you done any course about patterns?
I studied art at college and was lucky enough to get a job as a designer for Axminster Carpets. I learned so much there – it was pre computers – so I learned about repeats, mixing paint colours to match ‘in house’ colour swatches and the restraints of the loom. It’s always useful to understand your customer’s production process because it will have a bearing on the design process. I’ve always been in a design environment – sometimes working as a graphic designer and also designing greeting cards, but mainly textiles.
When computers arrived I needed a bit of help and studied Adobe at college in the evenings. There are some great books out there specifically for textile designers:
Adobe Photoshop for textile design by Fredrick L. Chipkin andDigital Textile Design by Melanie Bowles and Ceri Issac
I would also recommend Michelle Fifis at Pattern Observer http://patternobserver.com/ - Michelle has some great courses.
How long have you been designing patterns?
Do I have to tell you the truth?!!!! It’s been 32 years! But I’ve loved every moment.
How would you describe your style? Which colours do you like most?
Because of my traditional roots in carpet design – I would say my style is traditional with a contemporary twist. Generally I like blues but I try and experiment with different colour combinations – this can generate some interesting surprises!
What inspires you to create your designs?
I think most people will say this – but almost everything. It could even be a word. Generally I love nature and natural form but I also get inspired by great artists, other cultures and architecture.
Do you usually paint by hand? How is your creative process?
I usually start with several drawings or a large painting before scanning it into the computer where I perfect the repeat in Photoshop. Sometimes the design is sold straight from the painting but you have to show the repeat. This sort of project can take a week especially a 64cm repeat. I also use Illustrator as a tool. I’m a great advocate for using a scrap book – ideas, small drawings, cuttings – all go in my scrap books – great for times of ‘designer’s block’. Another form of scrap book is Pinterest – you can see mine here at http://www.pinterest.com/jacquimilton/
I’m always learning and trying out new techniques.
I’m always learning and trying out new techniques.
How do you sell your work?
I use an agent to sell my work. The agent has her own customer base and also represents me at trade shows, which allows me to spend more time designing. A good agent will also guide you with trends and advise on client requirements. This wouldn’t suit everybody because selling can be fun but it does take a lot of time. I have tried both methods and a positive for selling your own work is that you have more control. An agent will take a cut of the sale and doesn’t just represent your designs – so you have to decide what works best for you. Selling costs can be high – travel, trade shows and marketing all need to be factored in.
Do you license your work? Which brands do you work with?
Yes, I do a small amount of licensing with Kess InHouse and Keka Case.
Patterns designs licensed by kekacase.
Could you tell us the worst and the best for you about being a freelance designer?
I would imagine most artists will say the same, but I love having the flexibility of structuring my day but the downside is the fluctuating income. I have been a freelancer for 3 years now – before that I was employed, working alongside a team of people – so I do miss the banter. I make sure I visit trade shows and see friends/colleagues in the industry – I think this is very important.
Do you think it is necessary to promote your work using the social media? Could you give us some tips and tell some of the best sites to do it?
Yes, but I’m not very good at it! I think the best sites are still LinkedIn and Facebook. I’m probably not the best person to ask!
It would be nice to discover something about you daily life. How is a week day for you?
I work to a calendar and add events and deadlines for that month or week. I also write a year ‘goal’ planner. This helps me to keep focused and I would recommend this to any one starting out. The year planner is more about objectives – and it’s a very interesting exercise!
My ‘average’ day starts around 7 am, I get ready and sit at my desk around 8:00 am with a cup of tea - check some emails and social media. Then it’s a quick breakfast before I start designing around 9am – there’s usually some music in the studio. About 11am I enjoy a coffee and with a couple of biscuits (good for the creative process). Back to the designing until lunch time around 1pm for half an hour and I might walk up to the local village shop for some exercise. After lunch I work until 6.30pm and then it’s time to start cooking. My husband comes home about 7.30pm (ish) and we enjoy a meal together and catch up with the day’s events. Our evenings are generally spent relaxing, watching some TV or reading. Some days I will visit a gallery or go to London if there is a specific design event on. Being a freelancer means you have to be very flexible – some projects are urgent or take longer, so I will work into the evening or part of the weekend to get the job done.
What are your plans for the future? Any dreams to fulfill?
Wow – that’s a searching question! I think for now I am happy to carry on as I am – which is to continue designing and selling work all over the world – that really is a dream come true.
It was really a pleasure to interview Jacqueline as she is very friendly and kind, and it was great to know her a little better.