It is often highly recommended that you take professional studies in textile design. The reason for this is the extensive use of technology when it comes to this industry. While some hand-design is important, most companies and designers will use software to create designs, as well as to make them available to clients. This means that to be successful, you will need in-depth technological knowledge.
If you already know that textile design is the specific career you would like to get into, it is probably a good idea to earn a degree that will teach you all about it. You may also want to focus on the type of textile design you are interested in; for example, fashion versus fabrics for other industries. This being said, you have other degree options. If you are not sure that this is what you’d like to specialize in, you can take any Fine Arts degree or fashion degree.
Your other option is to apprentice with a designer after learning some of the basics on your own by using tools available online, in books and by practicing. This is a good route as well, but will take a lot of self-discipline and patience. Remember, if you complete a degree, an apprenticeship might still be a good idea, since an expert in the industry can teach you a lot more than university classes about the hands-on side of the job.
WHAT IF I DO WANT A DEGREE TO BECOME A TEXTILE DESIGNER?
- Philadelphia University
The Kanbar College of Design, Engineering and Commerce at Philadelphia University offers a well-rounded Textile Design program, where students learn in-studio and tech courses on weaving, knitting, printing, dyeing, and materials technology. The university also offers hands-on experience courses and study abroad opportunities. Annual tuition currently stands at $34,280.
- Syracuse University
This program in Fiber and Textile Design Arts is focused on in-studio training, once again covering both the artistic side of textile design, as well as the technology that goes along with it. The university has a multi-disciplinary approach. Current tuition is $40,380 per year.
- Savannah College of Art & Design
SCAD offers a BFA, an MA and an MFA in Fibers, focusing heavily on the technological side of the education. They also offer students alternative majors, such as Design for Sustainability or Design Management, and complementary minors, including Printmaking and Furniture Design. Tuition here is $33,795 per year.
- Michigan State University
The department of art, art history and design at the Michigan State University offers an Apparel & Textile Design Program, which combines artistic and technological aspects of textile design with fashion-related subjects. You have a choice of taking a BFA, focused more on the esthetics, or a BA, focused more on the technology. Estimated in-state tuition is $13,246 and $36,018 for out-of-state.
- Virginia Commonwealth University
If you would like to focus on the more artistic side of Textile Design you can choose the Painting and Printmaking program at VCU. Here you will also learn about the technical programs available, but the education will be broader and focused on in-studio work. In-state tuition at VCU is $9,877 per year and $26,736 for out-of-state students.
GETTING MY FOOT IN THE DOOR
While getting your own designs out there is important if you would like to freelance or open your own company, it is probably a good idea to take an assistant’s job at first. This will not only get you started in the industry and provide you with hands-on work experience, so invaluable in the future; but it will also allow you to begin building a network within this relatively small industry.
In the long-run, however, every industry niche will have a slightly different entry point. For those looking to get into the large, corporate textile design companies, you will be looking at moving up the ladder. If you would like to work at the smaller shops, but still be work on a team for someone, then you will need to network and show your work. Finally, if you would like to have your own company, you will need to network even more, establish yourself as an artist within the community, and try to start building your client base early.
For all of the above, however, you should always have a maintained portfolio, from the minute you graduate and throughout your career. Choose your best pieces, and only include those. Also, make sure your portfolio caters to the niche you want to specialize in. For example, if you did some fashion textile design work in university but would like to design quilts, it’s probably a good idea not to include the fashion pieces, since they are not relevant.