The Textile Design Lab: My Experience

Trade Secret: The Textile Design Lab

Trade Secret: The Textile Design Lab

A lot of people know that I studied industrial design and that I've been practicing interior design for decades now. Over the last 5 years I felt the urge to get back to my roots and start designing some of my own products. It was a natural start for me to delve into the world of textile and surface pattern design. After all, I've been specifying textiles for years that I wish I could tweak and change a bit.

While I have a solid art background and a solid product design background, the idea of designing patterns in repeat and making them really good patterns was a bit elusive to me. So I started looking at the Facebook feeds of some of my illustrator friends. I stumbled upon the Textile Design Lab, run by Michelle Fifis, about 3 years ago. I suddenly felt that the knowledge was at my fingertips and didn't hesitate to join.

Just like every other online community, you get out of the Textile Design Lab what you put into it. I was a bit reluctant at first, but I started to make some connections and saw that Michelle and her talented group of moderators really want to see everyone improve. To be honest, there were fits and starts for me. I started to tell myself "no more online classes or expenses, I need to just apply myself and get better". I decided to stay for one more class, which was the Photoshop class run by Sherry London. It was a complete 180 for me and my ability to design quickly what I envisioned. I had to stay for Photoshop 2! Along the way I participated in other classes on trends, collections, portfolios, and repeats. Most offered access to trend information that is priceless. In all of them you get personal feedback from multiple moderators, typically experts in the field for which you are designing. 

I was no longer on the fence and made my membership an annual expense. I started joining the weekly art critiques, designing in the monthly challenges, and sharing my work. Last year Michelle offered a Mastermind group for renewing members of the TDL. During the few weeks of online work and sharing, I joined up with 2 other designers who wanted to continue the check-in and goal review. Rita is in Michigan and Esther is in the Netherlands. We talk once a month to check-in on our goals and offer each other guidance and support. It's great because we "see" each other and chat in the Textile Design Lab and on social media, but we have formed a great friendship though our conversations which I can see will be lifelong.

I feel like Michelle goes above and beyond to help designers whether they are learning the basics or trying to take their work to the next level. She and each one of her moderators has taken time and made the effort to make me a better designer. If you're not sure you want to make the leap and become a member, do what I did and start on a quarterly plan. Do yourself the favor of participating and making use of the resources that Michelle and the Textile Design Lab offer. I hope you find it as valuable as I do and I hope to see you there!

Michelle didn't ask me to write this review of the Textile Design Lab and I'm not being compensated in any way.