The Graduate: Alison Barracluff

Alison won the Sponsor’s Choice Award for our furnishing textile competition with her amazing illustrated African tribal print. As the latest crop of design students have graduated, Think Positive has taken the opportunity to catch up with handful in a series of interviews to be posted over the next few weeks.

Alison shares with us the inspiration behind her designs, her plans for the future and even some her sketches.

What was the main source of inspiration behind your textile design?

The design that won sponsors choice is aptly named ‘Omo’, inspired by the Mursi and Surma tribes of Ethiopia whom live along the Omo river. ‘Omo’ is the hero print of my 2012 collection Gr(Africa), a cultural blend of African-inspired prints merged with contemporary city living style, personally reflecting the ways in which the culture, people and rich textile history of the continent romances me and my designs. I stumbled across photographs of the Surma and Mursi tribes taken by Hans Silvester­­ earlier this year and was completely entranced by their temporary body adornments. The photographs highlight bright mineral paints used to decorate the skin and the use of flora and fauna to fashion spectacular headpieces and body accessories.

How were the ideas behind the print developed?

Firstly, I find it very important to thoroughly research your subject of inspiration. You must look at what plants they use, what material they have access to and their way of life. The more research and knowledge you have, the more you can interpret the subject in your own way and not just copy an image. I keep a little plain diary religiously with me to jot down ideas or scribble designs, so I initially sketched the faces and interpreted the lines and textures in my own way with a marker to create a naïve line with a raw hand drawn effect. Once I had enough sketches, I then scanned in my drawings, cleaned up and put them into repeat on Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. When it comes to colour, I’ve been told I have a pretty good knack for it but I usually have look on WSGN for colour matrix and forecasts just to check if I’m on trend. For a brief I also hand painted the design with gouache and markers, as a result of the desired hand drawn look, the digital and hand painted look almost identical.

What are your thoughts on the direct-to-fabric digital print technology that Think Positive offers?

I think it’s wonderful and particularly important that Think Positive has such unparalleled technology in direct-to-fabric printing. As a textile designer, it’s very important that the designs are transferred to fabric with minimal variance from our original artwork so that hue, shape and clearness are elements that stay true to my work. Personally, I rely a lot on colour, and if some of the bright and bold colour palettes I use are compromised, then that option isn’t viable. Think Positive is able to guarantee this with their Colorbox colour management system software, and after having spent hours looking at forecast colour palettes, collecting pantones and hand mixing gouache for the precise colour, this feature becomes a godsend.

What does it mean to you to be the sponsors choice winner of Think Positive’s student textile design competition?

It’s such a great opportunity as a new designer. The prize was incredibly beneficial for my end of year Gr(Africa) collection as I previously mentioned, my designs are full of colour and I was having to try and cut down my designs to screen print, which means matching up, exposing and then printing four screens of colour by hand. The opportunity that Think Positive gave to all the students of the Diploma of Fabric Design and Printing, reproducing three designs from each just to choose the winner was extremely generous. It has given me a way to truly show my artwork the way I imagined, as well as giving me a self-assurance that I am on the right track.

What’s in store for you in 2013?

At the moment I’m enjoying the seasonal change, planning a strategically inspiring trip to Japan and gradually building up a strong portfolio for job hunting. I also won a Carpet Tile competition with Ontera Modular Carpets, the design was sampled into a rug which received some attention from industry potential buyers, so I’m heading back for another stint at Ontera to learn more and work on the possibility of manufacturing.

Thank you Alison, we look forward to seeing more from you next year!

Author: K