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Craft Journeys: Agnis Smallwood - Weaver

What I Do 

I am a designer, maker, researcher and educator, specialising in weave. My job is very varied and therefore no two weeks are the same.

Sometimes I am planning new designs, creating yarn wraps, weaving samples, experimenting with colours and textures. Other days I will be making, either orders or commissions or alongside other people at workshops or on projects. Research is an important part of my practice from visiting exhibitions, researching ideas, to learning about new ways to do things within my teaching or making practice.

Sometimes my research is independent and sometimes with others. I am passionate about working alongside others enabling people to explore and experiment with materials for themselves through making. I often use my love of traditional craft techniques as the starting point for projects and workshops.

Jobs in weaving

A career within weaving, textiles and the creative industries is possible. The creative sector is a significant part of the UK economy and there are many different jobs available related to the process and production of textiles.

  • Printed textile designer
  • Farmer
  • Blogger
  • Fabric designer
  • Weaver
  • Fashion designer
  • Visual merchandiser
  • Dyer
  • Self-employed tailor
  • Stylist
  • Textile restoration
  • Business owner
  • Upholsterer
  • Retailer
  • Lecturer
  • Maker
  • Buyer for a store
  • Technician
  • New technologies researcher

Why Craft?

I have always made things since I was little, whether using cardboard boxes and lots of pva glue or sewing. I have always been happiest making, it has provided me the opportunity to figure things out, explore and make sense of the world. It wasn’t until I had the opportunity to weave on my Arts Foundation Course that I knew craft was going to be my career.

What I Studied

In Year Nine we had terms in different areas of technology, the term of graphic design was my favourite. I remember doing a project designing packaging for a product, I spent ages on it because I enjoyed it so much. I remember getting really good feedback and thinking it was a lot of fun, it didn’t feel so much like work. Year Nine saw some career advice sessions and choosing options for GCSE. This made me start thinking about what I wanted to do with my life, which was daunting. In the end I picked the subjects I enjoyed the most, I decided to go with what made me happy.

GCSE options: Geography, Short Course in Graphic Design, Art, Drama

A Level options: AS Drama, AS General Studies, A2 Product Design A2 English Literature, A2 Art

Further Education

After A-levels I went to Cumbria Institute of the Arts in Carlisle to undertake an Arts Foundation Course. I arrived assuming I would then go on to study graphic design however the great plus of the Foundation Course is that you get an entire year to explore, experiment and try many different areas of art and design. For me this included the constructed textile department and there began an instant love of weaving. It was similar to my time studying graphics in year nine that I realised I really enjoyed what I was doing, I hadn’t had the opportunity to study weave until that point. I stayed at Cumbria Institute of the Arts and went on to study for my BA in Contemporary Applied Arts, where in my final year I specialised in weave and ceramics.

I am still training now, although not currently linked to any course or institution I am still continuing to learn every day whether that is to overcome a problem or learn a new skill/ technique. My initial formal training was for 4 years, 1 year on the Arts Foundation course and then 3 years to complete my degree, graduating in 2009. I then decided in 2014 to continue my studies and went to Goldsmiths to study for my MA part time in Artist Teachers and Contemporary Practices, graduating in 2017

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Une publication partagée par Agnis Smallwood (@agnissmallwood) le

 

My Career Path

In my experience careers are a journey, you might have an idea where you want to head, where you want to aim for taking the steps to get there. Most people don’t just walk into a dream job instantly, it is through hard work and perseverance.You have to be open to different possibilities that present themselves.

I don’t believe any experience to be wasted.

Important decisions

There have certainly been some key moments when I have made very conscious decisions to go down a certain path and pursue a certain journey.

Choosing courses to study have certainly been important decisions, when I was younger my parents and friends helped me out as well as teachers and now I am older my friends and family continue to support me as well as my partner.

It is also important to recognise that at times I have certainly followed my gut, applying for an opportunity to see what might happen.

My career has certainly not all been mapped out from the beginning and it continues to change and develop and that is what makes it exciting, challenging and rewarding.

Challenges

Lots and there will continue to be more I am sure!

Becoming self employed after graduating was a huge challenge, you have to learn how to do everything. The challenge of being on your own after the safety and support of uni is very different. It requires determination to be self-employed, and you need people around you who will support you whether they are in your own field, within the creative sector or friends and family.

There are times when it will be the people around you cheering you on, that keep you going, like in any aspect of life.

My Advice to You 

Go for it! Like with any career decision there is an element of the unknown however if you are passionate about a subject then you can often find a way to make it work. It certainly won’t be easy all the time, you need to keep determined and keep going. Don’t give up! However when you love your job the hard work is worthwhile.

Talk to people, ask for advice, ask for help, no-one can know everything. Embrace opportunities that come your way through school or outside of school.

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