What Does A Textile Designer Do?

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If you’re not in the trade, you may be wondering what the f**k does a textile designer do? Or is it a fabric designer? A print designer? A fashion textile designer? A surface pattern designer? There are a lot of names for this “title”…and I’m going to explain what they all mean, the skills you need, how to sell your designs, and more.

A Textile Designer Creates Print / Pattern Designs For Textiles (Aka Fabric)

These are often repeating patterns where the artwork is designed to repeat over and over (also referred to as “all over prints” or AOP). But textile designs can also be larger print designs or artwork that is placed on the fabric. Usually referred to as “placed prints,” these can be designed and printed on the fabric either before or after it is cut and sewn into the final product.

So, what about all of the other titles for “textile” designer? Let’s talk about how they’re the same…or different.

What Is A Fabric Designer?

Fabric = textiles, so this is essentially the same as a textile designer. In the industry (fashion or home decor), you hardly ever hear “fabric designer” – most of the time when I hear this, I know it’s someone who doesn’t have as much experience. So quick pro tip, start calling yourself a textile designer instead!

What Is A Fashion Textile Designer?

When you add the qualifier of the word “fashion,” that means you’re designing textiles specifically for the fashion industry. This is as opposed to designing for all sorts of fabrics which could include home decor, interiors, industrial, automotive, etc.

What Is A Print Designer?

A more vague and generic term, print designer can mean a million different things. “Prints” can be anything from repeating patterns to placed prints to any kind of artwork that is “printed.” So yeah, super generic. Like “fabric designer,” I most often hear this used by people who have less industry experience, or by people who are more of a graphic artist. Instead, most professionals who design prints for a variety of materials (as opposed to textiles only) will call themselves surface pattern designers.

What Is A Surface Pattern Designer? 

A surface pattern designer is like a textile designer, but it’s way more broad and not specific to textiles or fabric. As the name suggests, the artwork goes on “surfaces” – which can be any and everything from notebooks to tissue boxes to carpet (think hotels or casinos!) and of course textiles.


So, What Kind Of “Designer” Should You Be?

It’s up to you to decide what kind of prints / patterns / repeats you want to create and what industries you want to offer them to. The 3 steps to becoming some sort of “designer” are very similar no matter what kind of designer you want to be. If you’re not sure, the different ways to sell your prints and patterns may help you decide what industry you want to focus on.

Keep Reading: 3 Steps to Become A Textile Designer