Claire Tagg won the Hainsworth Statement Award at New Designers 2017 with her ‘Dress Coat’. The judges said of her work – ‘Unique and honest story, spoken from personal experience. Story translates through the design which shows how thoroughly it has been thought through and executed’. We caught up with Claire to discuss her creative journey.

Tell us the story behind you and your design background
Despite always enjoying art and design, I have always loved to travel. After finishing college I left home to be an Air Stewardess and lived in Belgium for three years, travelling around Europe. When travelling to new cities I would find inspiration everywhere, which would make me want to be creative and draw from what I had seen; it was here I discovered that I wanted to be a designer.

How did you become interested in design?
My interest in design was always a gradual transition when growing up, I can’t remember a time when I didn’t enjoy being creative and was always encouraged by friends and family to do so.

Where did you study and what was the most useful thing you learnt from / best things about your course?
I studied BA Hons Fashion Textiles Print at UCA Rochester where I learnt all about different techniques for printed textiles such as digital printing and hand rendered processes. The best thing about the course was having access to the fantastic print room and support from the technicians.

What inspired you to start your career pathway?
I choice to start a career in fashion design because I wanted to make my own job role where I could be hardworking yet still be creative. I wanted to put my creativity to good use and was tired of doing jobs which were not for me. I wanted to transform all of my ideas into wearable garments which is what attending university has helped to achieve.

Give us an insight into your thought process to design your work – where does your inspiration come from?
My inspiration mainly comes from looking at anything with detail especially elaborate architecture. If I see anything that is remotely elaborate I am straight away thinking about what I would want it to look like as a print.

Who are your design mentors and why?
I don’t have any design mentors as such as I struggle to find artists who work in the same way as I do. In terms of fashion designers I admire anyone who works with detail such as embellishment and embroidery. I am particularly interested in designers who work from a concept such as Alexander Mcqueen.

What one technique, material or tool could you not live without?
The material that I could not live without would simply be a pencil. All my print designs are from detailed illustrations and therefore nothing I create would be possible without being able to draw.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given? / What piece of advice would you give to future graduates or those thinking of studying design?
At my graduation ceremony, Dame Zandra Rhodes made a speech to all students where she said to stay humble and don’t expect to be successful overnight, just take your time and have fun with being creative. I would tell future graduate that you have to just work so hard and stay motivated if you want to do well.

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