Nina's Textile Trail

My OCA Textile Tales

Part 4 – Textile Structures – Research Point – How you think the work of the textile artist differs from that of the designer, the designer-maker or the craftsperson?

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How you think the work of the textile artist differs from that of the designer, the designer-maker or the craftsperson?

Is there any crossover in terms of approach or the way in which each uses ideas or textile processes?

What is a ‘designer’?

Oxford Dictionary definition: a person who plans the look or workings of something prior to it being made, by preparing drawings or plans.  In my mind, the term Designer suggests that the individual is only in the process of coming up with the design which might be in response to a brief or an aspiration.  Their plans would be executed by another party, they would not be involved in the making.  I would expect them to have training or a good understanding of the creative process.

What is a ‘designer-maker’?

A person who both designs and makes. Here the term implied that the process goes beyond design.  That the individual will make the prototype and make refinements towards the final production.  

What is a ‘craftsperson’?

Oxford Dictionary definition: a person who is skilled at making things by hand.  I would expect a craftsperson to have a high skill level in a ‘craft’.  The history of the craft will provide markers of quality and standards, traditions and tools will have been handed-down by a previous generation. The craftsperson will be competent in understanding all the elements of their craft.  Craft is likely to be material led.

What is an ‘artist’?

The first Oxford Dictionary definition is “a person who creates paintings or drawings as a profession or hobby”, which is a little disappointing.  I prefer the Merriam-Webster definition ‘a person who creates art’.  For me, an artist is a practitioner, a person actively engaged in art, creating work which expresses their own ideas, beliefs and emotions, in their chosen medium.  Driven by creativity and process, rather than materials, although they may become associated with the materials they become familiar with.

What is a ‘Textile Artist’?

A textile artist is an artist who has chosen to create and express their ideas using textiles as a medium. Encylopaedia Britannica defines ‘textile’ as “any filament, fibre, or yarn that can be made into fabric or cloth, and the resulting material itself.

The term is derived from the Latin textilis and the French texere, meaning “to weave,” and it originally referred only to woven fabrics. It has, however, come to include fabrics produced by other methods. Thus, threads, cords, ropes, braids, lace, embroidery, nets, and fabrics made by weaving, knitting, bonding, felting, or tufting are textiles. Some definitions of the term textile would also include those products obtained by the papermaking principle that have many of the properties associated with conventional fabrics.”

Is there any crossover in the approach or the way in which each uses ideas?

Annie Warburton, Creative Programmes Director at the Crafts Council describes craft as starting with the technique or the material or the process whereas design starts with the concept and comes to the object and Designer-Makers bridge both and travel in both directions. (Woman’s Hour – A Celebration of Craft 6.4.2015)

Justin McGuirk’s article in The Guardian, (The art of craft: the rise of the designer-maker Justin McGuirk, 2011), mentions that “since the industrial revolution, the designer and the craftsman are traditionally different roles. In the world of the Fordist production line, the designer created the templates that industrial craftsmen would replicate in the hundreds or thousands.” In that scenario, there is clearly no crossover.

I think there will often be a crossover in the approach and use of ideas.  Designers, designer-makers, craftsmen and textile artists will have some understanding of the ‘creative process’.  They may have been formally educated, which could apply to all, or they may have been taught the skills in a more informal way.  If the approach and use of ideas is to take some form of inspiration, develop it into an idea, reflect on the process and refine the idea until resolution then I think this is common to designers, designer-makers, craftsmen and textile artists.

Is there any crossover in the textile processes?

This will  depend entirely on what is being created.  If textiles are involved, there will be a crossover in the processes which may include spinning, weaving, knitting, felting, dyeing, printing, manipulating or stitching.

Taking a general view, I conclude that designers, designer-makers, craftsmen and textile artists will all have ‘the creative process’ in common and there will sometimes be crossovers in the textiles processes.  However in all the above categories external factors will affect the individuals’ approaches and use of ideas.  For example, anyone working on a commission, having been provided with a brief by a third party may have to compromise their own personal process.  Costs or time constraints may limit the extent of refinement in the development of an idea. They all may need to bow to current trends to create saleable, economically viable items which may affect their creative process.  Joanne Kinnersly-Taylor interviewed for Textileartist.org touches on this subject:

“My work covers three distinct areas and so I describe myself as a ‘textile artist and designer’, as I feel this best defines the scope of my practice. Although there are no fixed boundaries, I subconsciously adopt different mindsets, depending on the type of project I am working on. If I am carrying out a public commission, then both these roles are important. Whereas, when I create one-off works for exhibition, I adopt a much more fine art approach.”

http://www.designermakers.org.uk/DesignerMaker.html (accessed 10.4.15)

http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2011/aug/01/rise-designer-maker-craftsman-handmade (The art of craft: the rise of the designer-maker Justin McGuirk) (accessed 10.4.15)

http://www.societyofdesignercraftsmen.org.uk/about.html (accessed 11.4.15)

BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour A Celebration of Craft 6th April, 2015

http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/589392/textile

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/

http://www.textileartist.org/an-interview-with-joanna-kinnersly-taylor-part-1/

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