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Crafts Journeys: Gareth Wadkin - Lecturer

We are highlighting the wealth of opportunities to build a career in craft through our Craft Journeys, a series of profiles that ask people work in the sector how they got there.

Tell us about what you do

I am a Lecturer on Textile Design at Leeds Arts University and I also work there as a Progression & Widening Participation Worker. 

As a Lecturer on Textile Design I help design, plan and deliver learning experiences on printed textiles and surface pattern design to undergraduate degreestudents. My design teaching specialism includes innovative and traditional printmaking, dyeing and screen-printing for paper and textiles. 

My role in Progression & Widening Participation at Leeds Arts University includes encouraging achievement and raising the aspirations of young and adult learners through creative outreach with schools, colleges and community engagement. This includes offering information, advice and guidance on art, craft, design and higher education to prospective students.

What did you study?

I studied creative subjects at school, including GCSE Art & Design and Design Technology. After high school I went to an exceptionally creative sixth form college and studied A Level Art & Design, Fashion & Textile Design and Design Technology. 

Art & Design and Design Technology were my favourite subjects at school and it was a natural choice to continue studying creative subjects at sixth form. Whilst studying A Levels I became fascinated by textiles and the many possibilities it presented, exploring both structured and surface technical processes. I had two great tutors who were both so inspiring and encouraged me to apply to university. 

What have the main challenges been?

Being the first of my family to go to university and finance were definitely challenges when I first started studying in higher education, but it was such an exciting and valuable experience, I made life-long friends and had some of the best years of my life. 

What advice would you give to someone embarking on a career in craft?

The UK Creative Industries is the fastest growing sector in the economy and creative jobs are flourishing in the UK. It is a competitive industry so passion and a strong work ethic will go a long way. The best advice I can give to young people considering a career in the textile design industry is to be proactive, visit galleries, read books, magazines, publications, blogs and websites to inspire creativity. 

Drawing is extremely important for many creative subjects at university and within print design drawing is really important. You have to practice and develop your skills in art and be open to trying new things and new ways of making imagery. Use your time in school or college and at home to practice and build strong drawing skills and a great portfolio.

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