Last summer, Tiffany Lin and Emily Joynton, current ILP students, spent their summer as production & design interns at the textile design company Printfresh. Read Emily's summary below to learn more about their experience.
As Illustration Practice MFA grad students, both Tiffany and I have participated in a variety of different workshops facilitated by the ILP program. Last spring, one of those workshops focused on patternmaking and was led by Amy Voloshin and Leanne Biank of Printfresh, a textile company based in Philadelphia. Amy and Leanne led an informative and really enjoyable session that sparked an interest in both Tiffany and me. Making patterns was challenging but also a lot of fun, so not too long after the workshop was over, both Tiffany and I applied to be summer interns. A few weeks later, we were officially accepted!
Printfresh is a textile design company, and for them this means that they have an in-house team of designers who are constantly creating new patterns to coincide with predicted trends. While we were interns, the work Tiffany and I created and saw other designers create was mostly geared toward women’s and junior’s markets. Printfresh prints samples of each of the designs so as to give clients a tangible example of the print.
As interns, our days were split into two different departments: production and design. Most mornings were spent in production where we learned how to print, label, and archive these original prints, embellish new prints with sequins and gold foil, and process the vintage items that came through in a constant stream (the vintage archives at Printfresh are absolutely fabulous!). Working in production helped form a better understanding of how the company functions as a whole, how all the moving parts culminate in client visits, general sales, and trade shows. This “behind the scenes” work of a textile design company was actually pretty fascinating and rewarding with the completion of these very tangible tasks.
The other half of the day was spent working in design. Both Tiffany and I had great mentors – Tiffany primarily worked with designers in the women’s department and I was partnered with a junior’s designer named Esther. She mentored me on everything from making patterns to more efficient use of Photoshop. She led me through each step of creating a pattern, working through the project sheets of each new trend. Each “trend” for a designer is a group of 4 patterns, so I would help Esther by creating the final pattern in the trend group, or creating motifs that she could later layout herself into a completed pattern. Esther helped me think as a designer for the junior’s market and what that meant in terms of what kind of motifs we used, what colors worked best, etc. We had an excellent personal and professional dynamic – working with her was a wonderful experience.
During our time at Printfresh, Tiffany and I both sold prints! This was really exciting news that spoke to the great mentorship we received from our respective mentors and how we were learning to create marketable prints. In the middle of the summer, Tiffany and I both helped with the Premiere Vision trade show in New York City. That was a thrilling experience to see the sales in motion and be in the center of the activity that is a major trade show. These are just a few examples of how Printfresh allowed us to see all sides of the business and have very well-rounded experience even in such a short amount of time.
Printfresh has a refined internship program that details what specific skills the intern should strive to learn by the time the internship has ended. As the final task, each intern creates a set of four patterns of their own conception and execution, to be printed and presented to the rest of the design team. I chose my patterns to be themed around summer camp - conversational prints for juniors with lots of movement, a bold, graphic drawing style, and bright colors.
Tiffany went with a more abstract approach, painting beautiful brushstrokes and layering them on top of bold primary colors.
Seeing our original designs printed on actual fabric was thrilling! This project is also the one exception where the work was created at Printfresh, but we are allowed to display these patterns as our own work. It was a great portfolio-building opportunity as well as wonderful job experience.
Working with Printfresh was a wonderful experience all around. Many thanks from Tiffany and me to Whitney Sherman and Kimberly Ellen Hall for introducing us to Printfresh and therefore making this internship possible. And thanks to Amy and Leo Voloshin for graciously taking us on this summer, and to all the creative direction from all the designers who patiently worked with us!