3 Steps To Become A Textile Designer (And What Skills You Need)

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3 steps to becoming a textile designer without going to school

Becoming a textile designer doesn’t take a lot of time, and it’s not super complicated. You’ll be surprised how much you can learn DIY (instead of going to fashion school). The list of skills you need is actually pretty short!

The 3 steps to becoming a textile designer are learning how to create artwork, learning the basics of textiles & print techniques, and creating a portfolio.

Let’s look at each step in detail.

1. Learn How To Create Artwork (Including Prints And Repeats)

There are a variety of different types of artwork you can create. Textile designs can be hand drawn, painted, collages, CAD (vector in Adobe Illustrator / raster in Photoshop), and more.

You don’t need to know how to do them all. Pick the style and aesthetic that matches your creativity and learn that!

No matter what type of textiles you want to create, learning repeats will be essential. You’ll need to know how to get a design into a seamless repeating pattern using relevant software (Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop). 

Beyond this, understanding how to prep repeats for production and create specs for manufacturing will be really valuable.

2. Learn The Basics Of Textiles & Print Techniques

As a textile designer, you’ll want to have a conceptual understanding of different types of fabrics. You don’t need to know every kind of fabric that exists, but understanding how artwork will print differently on a tightly woven fabric (think a button down shirt) vs jute or burlap (think a coffee bean bag) will be important.

A quick read on different fabric types and their qualities will help. Better yet, take a trip to your local fabric store and notice the qualities of different textiles and what they are called. You can literally do this in an afternoon.

But beyond fabric types, you want to also understand different print types. Two of the big ones are screen printing and sublimation printing. Screen printing is where each color is printed directly through a screen that the artwork has been burned into. This works great for minimal color vector artwork. This is compared to sublimation printing where colors don’t matter – you can print unlimited colors, like photorealistic florals. 

There are more print types beyond this, and you don’t have to know them all, but it’s valuable to have a high level understanding. Because print types can affect the type of artwork, the production budget, and what factories you can work with. 

This is a great article to get you started on understanding the 6 different types of fabric printing. Don’t worry about having a thorough understanding of all of them, just know there are different options and you’ll want to consider this for each project.

3. Create A Textile Design Portfolio

The last step to becoming a textile designer is creating a portfolio. Depending on where you want to sell your designs, this is likely not as big of a project as you think. I’ll go through everything you need to know about how to create a textile design portfolio based on how you plan to make money, but know that it’s not an overly complicated project!

Keep Reading: How To Become A Textile Designer Without Going to School