#CREATORTALK is a series of articles and interviews, with a focus on the creative industries and the talent working within them. In this edition of #CREATORTALK, we speak to London-based textile designer Chris Howarth.
PW- Hey Chris! How are you doing?
Hey! I’m doing great thank you. Really great to be chatting with you!
PW- So, first thing’s first. For those who haven’t met you yet, how would you sum up who you are and what you do?
Well, I’m a textile designer from Manchester originally, but I’ve been living and working in London for about 4 years now. I’m studying at the moment at Chelsea College of Art in Textile Design, and I specialise in the embroidery and stitch side of textiles.
PW- What are you working on at the moment, and when will we be able to see it?
Well I’ve actually just finished a small collection I’d been working on for the past 6 or so weeks. It was a very exciting opportunity that came up to design for SS19 and showcase the work at Premiѐre Vision in Paris, which is a huge fashion textiles event where designers showcase their work to fashion buyers from all over the world. For it I looked at old wood carvings and illustrations from the Renaissance, artists such as Jacques Callot. I really wanted to explore hand carving and cut-work for this, so I decided to design the whole collection by just hand cutting into faux leather. It was fun to do something really bold and simple, and exploring textiles without sewing or embroidery. Definitely look out for pictures soon, I’m really excited to share them!
PW- Working with textiles is a unique skillset, and I think it’s safe to say an under-appreciated art form. What inspired you to get into it?
It really is an under-appreciated art form; you say textiles and people’s understanding of what it involves and includes I find is quite limited. Textiles really is so much and actually involves so much more than I think people realise. I actually discovered it quite late on, it hadn’t really been something I even considered as a direction. I had always loved art and fashion, and felt the only path I could take with that was actually in Fashion Design. So I originally went to study that at university, unfortunately this didn’t really work out how I wanted it to, and I ended up leaving the course part way through. I decided to figure out what parts of the design process I enjoyed the most, and that’s where textiles came in. It really was a light bulb kind of moment, where that just made sense. Hand embroidery was really something that I loved to do, so I taught myself as much about it as I could. It’s such a slow and time consuming process, but you get a weird joy from it as it slowly becomes something.
PW- What is your favourite piece you have designed/ created?
I think the project I had the most fun with, and think is my favourite, is something I made last year. My inspiration for that project came from gay dating apps, and this whole thing of ‘faceless torsos’ that you’d find on them, and how identity really didn’t matter when all you where reduced to was a lumpy muscular mass without a face. I began experimenting with stuffing stretchy fabrics to look like body parts and crocheting human hair, it was all very gross and I loved every moment of it! I ended up creating a giant lumpy mass of flesh coloured spandex finished with hand embroidery to look like body hair. It was definitely a piece I have every intention of going back to and researching and pushing further.
PW- Creativity can be all-consuming, which most readers will know all too well. How do you chill out after finishing a big project?
I’m actually really bad at winding down after a big project. I put so much into it, mentally, that once its over and I can finally relax, my body just kind of goes a bit crazy and doesn’t understand what’s happening and why I suddenly have all this free time! I do however love sleep, its probably my favourite hobby, and I usually spend my free time napping.
PW- In this kind of industry, it can be tough to feel like you’re moving forwards sometimes. How do you battle these feelings when they come up, and do you have any advice to other people who might be struggling in a similar way?
You have to make what you enjoy, find a style that suits your personality. You’ll find it so much easier to design and create when you actually enjoy what you’re doing. And try new things! You never know what will click in your head and just feel right. The design process is full of ups and downs. One day you can be on top of the world, and then all of a sudden your questioning why you ever decided on this path in the first place! Ride the peaks and troughs, you can do this.
PW- And final question! It’s more of an invitation actually. Use the next few sentences to tell us what you’re up to next, and where we can follow you online 🙂
Well I post everything on my instagram which is @Chris_h_designs, feel free to give it a cheeky follow! And I recently started a job as a digital embroidery assistant, which is amazing and I’m very excited about. It’ll be fun to learn more about digital embroidery and start exploring that more in my designs. So watch this space!