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Design ME Blog

A conversation with Aidan Whitley.....

We had the pleasure of interviewing Aidan Whitley, who's work we fell in love with at this years New Designers. Aidan is a multi-disciplinary print designer specialising in textiles and surface design. He is graduating this year from Leeds College of Art and is part of the Goat Collective which is a creative collective based in Leeds.

1) Tell us a little about yourself?

I'm nearly 23, a recent Surface Design graduate, and have a pretty happy go lucky attitude to everything. I love technology and I am a pretty adventurous cook. One of my favourite things to cook is peanut butter and fried egg bagels.
I like to collect things, vintage home ware being my current passion. I like trying out new things, and really want to go bungee jumping and cliff diving even though I'm terrified of heights. 

2) How would you describe your style of work?

Bright, graphic and versatile. Its very bold and in your face. I just like things to be big and vivid. It's more interesting to look at in my opinion. I say versatile also as I create in various different forms, using rigid materials such as wood, perspex and metals, moving into more dainty materials such as fabrics and papers. 

3) Do you prefer creating textiles for fashion or interiors and why?

The base of my practise is to create textiles which are relevant for both fashion and interiors! I like to show how one design can breadth many markets and contexts, working as fashion and interior products, but also spanning into jewellery, murals and set design (really want to take this further) I like creating in this way as I like the challenge of creating something which works cross different markets

4) What first got you into textile/surface pattern design?

My graphics course at college. We did a print module and I fell in love with screen printing. I pretty much refused to do anything else for the rest of the year. In my digital design work I just started teaching myself to create technical repeats and working with pattern and colour. My print tutor recommended a surface pattern design course so I checked out the one at Leeds College of Art and it was everything I had been wanting from a university course!

5) What designers inspire you and why?

Camille Walala
I had the pleasure of meeting Camille after coming third in a competition, and she was the coolest, most level headed designer I've met. Really honest and does her own thing completely. Her designs are fun, big and bright, and she has a great ethos towards her work. I would love to be doing what she's doing and hope to meet her again in the future!

I'm not sure what it is about KAWS that I love so much. He has such a signature style and is really unique in his practise. I love his exhibition at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, and all the design he produces. I recently did an internship with Mira Mikati who did a collaboration on a bomber jacket with KAWS. He has an excellent eye for colour and composition, which are key to my practise as well. 

6) Where did the inspiration for your final collection come from? 

The inspiration for my final collection came from a couple of sources. It was the aesthetic of Memphis Milano with the ethos of the Bauhaus. Multi disciplinary design which is functional and focuses on the client but also focuses on creating something ornate and beautiful. The two movements kind of grind against each other but I wanted to produce something which combined ideas from two of the most influential art movements in my opinion. It also comes a lot from photography. I often take photos of what I do and where I go, as its a good reference point for ideas. You can get all sorts of shapes, shadows and colours from architecture, nature and every day happenings, and I would never remember them without my camera!

7) What is your creative process?

My creative process generally starts with photographs. I then start to draw by hand and digitally to create mock ups of how shapes and textures work alongside one another. In terms of colour I usually work with trends, or colour picking from my photographs. I then start to create the shapes in three dimensional forms (when I have the facilities!) and applying paint and texture. It's very much take it as it comes and see how it goes. I like spontaneity and solving the next problem as it happens within the design and seeing how things work together. I then create this digitally and apply it to various mockups. I also deconstruct the sculptures and show how they can be used in different contexts also. It's very much an in the moment thing. At the moment I don't have access to saws and sanders that I need, so I am working in hand illustration and creating digitally from photographs. 

8) What are the three most important things you learnt at university that helped shape you into the designer that you are today? 

a) Don't be stubborn and take criticism. 
Sometimes you can get so focused on a design that you lose the original intention. You can completely over complicate something and sometimes you need a third party to tell you to tone it down

b) Experiment
Make, make and make it again. Use as many different processes as you can and take full advantage of the opportunities presented to you at university. As I'm now learning it's quite hard to acquire the facilities once you leave. Create everything and anything and find your style. Never be afraid of something new.

c) Have fun!
If you don't like it, don't do it. Designing shouldn't be something monotonous and that you don't look forward to. Don't dig yourself into a hole doing something that doesn't reflect your personality. People like personality and it's important when looking for employment. 

9) What are your plans for the future?
I'm currently freelancing, but want to go into a permanent role in something to do with set design I think. I am also looking for print design and graphic design roles. I just want to create something with a purpose. I'd love to work for myself in the future, but I want to meet and experience other designers and other disciplines to gain more experience and inspiration so I can really pin point my own brand when the time comes. I have also recently become interested in creative advertising and would like to try working with a few briefs in that too! 

To see more from Aidan, check out his instagram and website!
Instagram: @aidanwhitley

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