What is Textile Design? Who is a Textile Designer?

So you want to know more about Textile Design? What it is all about? Who is a Textile Designer and How do you become qualified to be a Textile Designer?

The advice and information below is based on my professional experience as a passionate textile designer, working in the industry for the past eight years and also from having my own textile-based design business.

Now, let’s get stuck into what you really want to know…

What is Textile Design?

Textile Design (also referred to as Surface Pattern Design mostly in the UK) is the creation and design of repeated prints, patterns, graphics and artwork for surfaces.

These ‘Surfaces’ include everything from wall coverings, flooring, curtains, tiles, fabrics, bed coverings, knitted fabrics, woven fabrics, towels and paper.

What do Textile Designers Do?

Textile Designers create the repeating print, pattern, graphic or artwork for the surface depending on a specific need or design brief.

Here’s some other facts about Textile Designers:

  • Textile designers also produce designs for knitted fabrics, woven fabrics and hard surfaces such as tiles, ceramics or flooring.
  • Textile designers are not limited to just designing for ‘textiles’ as the name suggests.
  • Traditionally Textile Designers were employed to design prints for bed linen, home furnishings and upholstery fabrics.
  • The skills to create a repeating print, the knowledge of textile printing methods, fabric fibres and fine art illustration is what sets textile designers apart from graphic designers.

Textile Design Designer at Desk

How Do I Become A Textile Designer?

Luckily, there are multiple ways you can enter the industry to become a textile designer.

1. Study Textile Design at University

Some Universities will offer a Bachelor degree or diploma in Textile Design specifically, but it is still considered quite a niche area of study.

For example, in Melbourne Australia, there is only one University that offers the degree and accept only 35 students per year. In London, the degree is often in the subject of ‘Surface Pattern Design‘.

2. Study Any Design Field at University

Most design-based degrees have transferable skills that can be used as a Textile Designer. The most closely related fields to study include Fashion Design, Graphic Design, Fine Arts and Product Design.

However, if the university near you does not offer a Textile Design degree, your best pathway would be to study a degree in a closely related field. After that, you can always add onto your portfolio with a short course (e-course or self-taught via online resources) in the Adobe programs and design process used for Textile Design.

textile design
Textile Designer Materials

3. Study through an Online E-Course

Today, there are many options to study through online courses in Textile Design. The best ones are created by well-known professionals in the industry. Research any e-course you choose to pay for thoroughly before making a final decision. You don’t want to be wasting your money on badly designed lessons from inexperienced designers.

Below Is A List Of My Recommended Textile Design E-Courses:

4. Enter into Textile Design through Industry Experience

With so many online resources it is easy to teach yourself and up-skill. If you are already a designer, artist or creative professional then you can easily transfer your creative skills into being a Textile Designer by adding a few topics onto your skill set. These might include learning how to use Adobe for Textile design, taking a short lesson in repeating patterns or learning about fabric fibre types.

The most common design professionals to enter into Textile Design from another career background are Graphic Designers, Fashion Designers and Product Designers.

5. Become A Freelance Textile Designer

One career path that can be followed after graduating from either textile or graphic design is to become a freelancer. This means you do not work for one company, but with many. The freelancer career path allows you to gain experience across many different projects and dealing with a variety of clients.

In the beginning, you might take on all kinds of freelance textile projects, but over time you can become specialized in designing for one product type or style of illustration.

Below Are Some Sites To Help Get You Started Finding Freelance Jobs:

6. Start Your Own Textile Design Based Business

Last but not least, you could jump right in and start your own textile design based business! In particular, this option appeals to those that already have design skills, creativity and know how to use the software programs. It is also a great option for those who don’t particularly want to work in a large company, for someone else or someone who has recently graduated from a Textile Design education.

Types of Textile Design Businesses You Could Start:

  • Selling your own prints and patterns through licencing
  • Apply your own designs to textile products such as cushions or homewares
  • Create your line of printed scarves and accessories
  • Design a line of fashion prints and collaborate with local fashion designers.


I hope this helped clarify a few points on what Textile Design means and a little insight into the role of a Textile Designer. Let me know if you have any further questions or comments regarding the topic of textile design and I would be happy to write a post about it!

Check out some further Textile Design Inspiration:

The Different Types of Pattern Repeat Layouts

What is a Seamless Pattern Repeat?

Find Creativity + Adventure Everyday!

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