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Has Your Design Career Stagnated?

Updated: Jul 8, 2021

Have you hit a brick wall in your career? Do you wish you could do more business or earn more money? If you’re spinning your wheels but getting nowhere, ask yourself: Are you doing anything to sabotage yourself? Here’s five ordinary habits that can lead to a stalled design career, and the techniques to turn them around.

1. You design the same design over and over

When we stumble on a successful approach to well, anything, it’s natural to want to repeat it. Maybe there was a design style that sold really well for you last season and you’ve reinvented it few times since. You have the formula down and now it’s fast to produce. You’re moving at a rapid rate but your work is starting to feel too familiar. “There’s a lot of competition for textile sales out there and if you are not providing enough variety then your designs are not appearing new” says creative director, Rebecca. “Customers always want the ‘newest and best,’ even though sometimes they’ll end up buying something that’s not so new as it’s a safe commercial bet for them, but they want to know that they’ve had that choice,” she continues.


The biggest hurdle here is recognising a pattern. Yep, you may not even know you’re doing it! Ask a fellow designer or family member if they can see variety in your work (non designers are especially great for objective points of view). “Buyers and designers get print fatigue, so if you want to get their attention, keep pushing the envelope and present fresh designs.”

2. You forget about fashion

There’s beautiful prints and then there’s beautiful prints that will also be on trend next season. Guess which ones will appeal to the buyer? “The truth is, clients are VERY in tune with the fashion tide” Rebecca says. “Most subscribe to fashion forecasting services [including our own Trend Reports] and so if you’re not designing to the predicted trends you can quickly get left behind.”


Note the international runway show calendar and browse all of the show collections as pictures appear. Scroll Pinterest and follow fashion influencers on Instagram. Many textile designers use the same professional forecasting services as the retailers. Although it costs more than browsing, your labour can be more expensive (as researching and analysing trends drains hours!). Also, it provides the reassurance that the trends you focus your designs on are the ones that’ll make it to the mainstream or luxury markets.

3. You avoid watching and reading tutorials

It feels like a lot of effort and it takes you away from designing. It’s not really worth wasting time watching experienced designers at work, is it? We hope we can convince you otherwise.


The time spent learning and honing your craft (even just Googling a technique every time you get stuck in Photoshop) can pay off immeasurably. In time you’ll start designing faster, cleaner, more polished designs. And with a more cohesive, in-depth study of textile design, where everything is explained for you step-by-step, your progress will soar.

4. You resist new technology

You don’t have to be using Microsoft Paint and a fax machine to be more than a little behind on technology. That baby moves fast. For early adopters, software updates, new devices and apps represent exciting new business opportunities. For the more analog-loving folk it can be a bit of a strain to keep up with the constant developments.


We get it. It goes back to point 3. It takes time to learn how to use these things and can cost a bomb to boot. While there’s nothing wrong with sticking to your processes (we’ll never give up our real paints and brushes), technology is one mega beast that can’t be ignored.  You can bet your competitor is already on that new social media platform engaging with clients and turning out digital drawings at speed on a tablet. You gotta ‘be on it’ as best you can. If you can’t afford new equipment, or the latest version of Photoshop, make the most of other cheaper tools and recourses. Buy the Photoshop brushes that’ll elevate your designs. Build your Instagram profile and be findable online. These things can really boost your business.

5. You tell yourself your work isn’t good enough

It’s that old adage, What you believe is true is true if you believe it. Read any self-help book (or Pinterest pin!) and it will tell you so 🙂  When you’re feeling down on yourself it can come through in your work. Your thoughts are very powerful. And if you keep going this way then one day you might be so discouraged you won’t do anything at all. It can debilitate your creativity and worse, your whole career.


So when the blues set it, take a step back. Indulge in something you really love until your mood lifts. And take action on that nagging, negative thought.  Give yourself some more training around the topic if you can. You’ll feel instantly better because you’re both pro-actively doing something about the problem and helping to treat the issue.


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