A Complete Guide on How to Become a Textile Designer



Few children list ‘textile designer’ on their list of dream career choices. Textile designers represent a lucky few artists who find themselves in a profession that blends the best of two worlds. 

As a textile designer, you have the opportunity to bring your fine art skills to manufacturing. Does this seem like your dream job?

Take a look at this overview of how to become a textile designer.

How to Become a Textile Designer

Becoming a textile designer isn’t always a linear path. If you’re fortunate enough to start planning for this career before college, you can look for textiles programs at local colleges.

Some colleges have their own textiles departments while others embed the programs in an art or fashion department. Expect textiles programs to offer hands-on opportunities to see what the design process is like.

This is what makes textiles programs stand out from other degrees that lead to careers as a textiles designer. You’re gaining direct training and the ability to hone your creative skills before you land your first job.

It’s possible to get started in majors like art history, fashion design, and interior design when you’re interested in a career as a textiles designer. You’ll gain your skills later while on the job in a career field where things are constantly changing. 

What School Should I Attend?

It’s very important to choose the right program when pursuing a career in textiles. There’s no perfect school that will lead to your dream career though.

Textiles design is a career that requires many soft skills that can’t be entirely gained from school. It’s a good idea to choose a program that helps you hone the skills you lack. 

For example, if you struggle with organization, choose a program that requires you to juggle multiple priorities. This might be a university or design school with a competitive art program.

Having to fight for your spot within the school is motivation to keep yourself organized. Cost is another important factor that can make or break your career path.

Financial issues are either a source of motivation to finish school quickly or a complete distraction. Each person’s situation is different so choose what makes sense for your finances.

At the end of the day, school is meant to give you an advantage heading into your career. If you’re feeling too many setbacks from attending a particular career, school isn’t serving its intended purpose.

Make sure your school is located within a reasonable distance to any current employment or family support. Typically, graduate programs aren’t worth moving for.

If there’s an option in the state where you live, consider that over uprooting your life if you’re already working a full-time job. 

Launching a Career as a Textile Designer

Textile designers occupy a glamorous career with only a few spots opening up every year. The simplest point of entry is through an internship.

If you’re making a career transition, you might have to be more creative in your approach to landing a position as a textiles designer. Consider alternate jobs within the organization where you can get experience.

Many companies hire from within even if the roles are completely different. For example, if you’re a project manager at an interior design firm, you might consider becoming a project manager at a textiles company.

You’re not guaranteed to instantly convert to textiles designer upon moving, but you’re closer to the opportunity. You can even learn by working alongside textiles designers until you’re given the opportunity to prove your skills.

The politics of transitioning roles vary from job to job. Keep an open mind about what it’ll take to get your employer to see you as a viable candidate for textile design.

Focus on value first. Are you more in touch with client needs than other designers? 

Can you manage a budget better than any designer you’ve ever met? Do people flock to your print designs through an online shop or blog?

See where you excel and focus on this area when you discuss potential opportunities with your employer. Newbies have it a little easier in that employers can mold you into the type of textile designer they want.

The expectation that you already understand the industry is very low. Use this time in an entry-level position to soak up best practices from senior designers.

Portfolio Needs

It’s a good idea to maintain an online textile design portfolio of work when looking to transition between careers. It’s challenging to prove visual talent when all your career experience is in a non-creative field.

An online portfolio can present you with freelance opportunities until you land a full-time job. Students can benefit from portfolios that contain mockups and digital renderings of textile designs.

These showcase your level of creativity which can be helpful if you’re working directly with a textile designer during an internship.

Career as a Textile Designer

A textile designer is a fast growing field where no two days are alike. You can expect your toolkit to continuously grow with changes in technology.

Remain flexible in your workflow since what you’re doing now won’t be the same approach you’ll take in five years. It doesn’t matter whether you’re planning to become a textile designer as a career change or if you’re just graduating from college.

Textile designer careers are going to be much easier to get when you have the chance to clearly show your talents. Keep your portfolio up to date eliminating any work that doesn’t seem to reflect the professional level of the brand you want to work for.

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