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Our Alumni series continues today with a postcard from abroad – Alumni Emma Sheehy graduated from BATD in 2011 and is now based in New York (lucky for some!). Emma shares a little of her day to day life with us here:
Alumni Emma Sheehy

Tell me a little bit about your background – how did you come to textiles and where has it led you?
 I was always very creative and very interested in fines arts at school-mostly painting and drawing. A family member suggested Textiles to me when in high school and it really grabbed my interest. Once I started my degree in textiles I realized how much it really covered in surface design and it exposed me to many more wonderful areas of art and craft, which will be a passion for life- from knitting and painting to patchwork quilting! 
My degree in Textile Design bought me to New York City where I did a fashion internship for Sachin and Babi and was able to work at Mercedez Benz Fashion week as well as learn all the in’s and out’s of a New York fashion house. I found myself getting to visit fashion studios from Vogue – Oscar De La Renta, Carolina Herrera and Tory Burch. I have now landed a great full time job for a home wares company in New York doing Textile CAD design. 

How do you define your style?

My personal style is colorful, playful and sometimes childlike. I love floral and geometric and I love yarn and ink and illustration! 

What does a typical working day involve?

A typical day for me involves lots of CAD design! I will have multiple projects on the go at one time for different clients so normally the majority of my days are spent designing products such as bed linen, cushions, pet beds, upholstery textiles, and towels! My days are also broken up with a lot of buyer meetings where clients come in and we talk about what they want. 

What are the rewards of your job/work?

It’s very rewarding to do a job that you enjoy. I get to be creative everyday! As a graduate I have been thrown in the deep end, which is great because I really get a lot of responsibility and the freedom in this job to express my creativity. I also get to travel overseas to the trade shows in China and India to source textiles so this is a definite reward! The view from my desk is of the empire state building, which is rewarding! 

Are there particular artists or designers you admire? What is it about them that you admire?

Favorite artists would be Klimt, Modigliani and Egon Schiele. I admire their use of color, linework, pattern, and overall mood. My favorite designer is the BokjaDesign Studio- a Turkish based furniture company who gives new life to beautiful bold and colorful textiles from the Silk Road.

How do you stay inspired?

Its not hard to stay inspired especially when living in such a diverse and creative hub like NYC. There is always a new gallery opening or great exhibit, artist and flea markets and just the streets of NYC itself are a huge source of inspiration from the forward fashion to the street art of hipster Brooklyn. Working in the industry also helps to keep you constantly inspired as I am always researching new trends and artists/designers.

What did you take out of your Textile Design training?

I learnt skills which I apply constantly in my job today. These include how to apply your creativity to a commercial market and all of my Adobe CAD experience is from my training. On top of this I learnt how to use your creativity to make beautiful products- from use of color to what works as a design. You are taught how to fine-tune your creativity. I have very strong practical skills as well. I learnt a lot about hand, machine, and industrial knitting, silkscreen printing, textile painting and drawing techniques, dying and other fabric craft techniques. 

What was your career dream or goal when you graduated? Have your expectations changed?

When I graduated I thought I wanted to go into the direction of fashion but now that I am in home wares I find that I love it and would prefer to stay in this side of the industry. I was torn between travel and getting some industry experience so moving overseas to find work seemed like a good way to go. I thought that my dream job would be to work for a commercial design house, which I do want to do for some time, but my expectations have changed now though and I would eventually like to have my own home wares business. 
Part of Emma’s 2011 graduation folio – ‘In Pursuit of a Trail’. Image: Emma Sheehy

What do you find most exciting about the industry today?

All the young people putting themselves and their own creative expression out there with their own start up design companies!

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