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Posted 18.03.19

Creative internships & playful prints: working with Boden

By Lauren Taverner Brown
Currently studying in the final year of our BA (Hons) Printed Textile Design and Surface Pattern degree, Abigail Craig creates playful, quirky designs for fabric.

Throughout her degree, Abi has secured some impressive internships to support and develop the experience gained whilst studying, including working in the head office of successful British fashion label Boden, interning at colourful kids clothing brand Frugi, and working on live briefs and competitions for the likes of Finisterre and Joules.

We caught up with Abi, fresh from her Boden internship, for a quick chat...

The creative breakout space in the Boden head office.

You’ve just returned from your Boden internship - tell us a bit about it!

The Boden head office is in North Acton near Wembley, and it’s a huge place - so big that they call all the different areas of the office “neighbourhoods.” My time at Boden was spent doing research for forthcoming seasons, and assisting the brand’s admin team - and I was also allowed to choose the name for a shade of green for the next season!

I was working in the Childrenswear Department (Mini Boden), with the print design section of the team. It was really good experience to watch how an established business functions day to day. I was filing strike offs - which are the samples that come back from the factory - I had to do things like check if the print looked good on that type of material, and so on.

How did you secure your internship role with Boden?

I made contact with the brand via Instagram, and they gave me an email address to send my CV and my online portfolio to. I kept an email conversation going with their very helpful recruitment team, and they forwarded my CV onto the design team.

Here at Plymouth College of Art everyone supports each other, and we have a really close-knit group on our course. If someone gets an internship, or wins a competition, everyone is really pleased for them and we try to keep each other positive.

Can you tell us a bit about the other internships, competitions and live briefs you’ve worked on?

Last Easter I did an internship at Frugi, a childrenswear brand based in Helston, Cornwall. I found out about the internship through the Careers & Enterprise team. Frugi have a really relaxed atmosphere at their offices, it was lots of fun being there and it was a really positive experience. I was tasked with doing some illustrations for prints for the brand’s AW19 range, so some of my designs might make it into production for this Autumn - I just have to wait and see!

Abi pitching her print ideas to the design and marketing team at Finisterre. Image credit: Finisterre

I also created designs for a live brief from cold water surf brand Finisterre, and although my concept wasn’t the winning design I am still speaking to the brand about the possibility of them using my print for some of their swimwear.

I love designing around interesting concepts with a personal touch - so for the Joules live brief that we worked on, I based my ideas on the fact that my parents (who are in their 50s) had just bought wetsuits for the first time, so my designs focused on the spirit of the seaside and the calming influence of the ocean.

Our tutors are really supportive and in our third year, have helped us to realise that we are the designers, and that we need to trust in our own work and in the creative decisions we make.

Do you have any advice for other students looking to do internships?

Internships are a really good way to gain momentum for what you want to do after your time spent studying at university. Although it can be expensive to do internships, I feel that I've gained a tremendous amount of confidence - with everything from public speaking to talking about my work, especially with live briefs and new clients, it has been a tremendous help in growing my confidence. I don’t find presentations scary any more.

One piece of advice would be if you have to find accommodation for your internship, try to look for an Airbnb as it can be a lot cheaper than paying for a hotel. There are also some bursaries available to help with the cost, so speak to the Careers team to see if there is any financial support that you can access.

My other advice to other students would be to not be afraid to put your work out there. Don’t be afraid to be turned down, it’s just a sign that someone else would rather have you… so don’t let it get you down.

Some examples of Abi's textile design work.

What made you choose Plymouth College of Art for your degree?

I am from Cirencester, so when I was choosing a university I looked at places like Bournemouth, and Bath, but there was something about the interview here that made me feel like there was a really friendly, supportive atmosphere - it felt homely.

At other universities I visited, I felt like there was a really competitive atmosphere. But here at Plymouth College of Art everyone supports each other, and we have a really close-knit group on our course. If someone gets an internship, or wins a competition, everyone is really pleased for them and we try to keep each other positive.

For example, when we went down to the Finisterre office in St Agnes to pitch some ideas for the live brief that we were set, most of the group were third years but there was a second year student with us who was really nervous, so we were all trying to help her feel a bit more relaxed, and build her confidence before the pitch.

Also, my parents both came to university in Plymouth - in fact this is where they met, and when we came down for an Open Day they took me on a tour of the city to show me all the places they knew, so it is nice to know there’s a bit of family history here in the city.

Some examples of Abi's textile design work.

What kind of support have you been getting from your tutors whilst you have been studying here, and how has it helped you succeed?

The tutors have been super helpful. They all work in industry which is really useful because they can offer very specific advice. And it’s great to know that we can get good references from them! The best bit of advice my tutors have given me during the course is to be yourself, and know what’s best for you.

Especially in our third year, the tutors have been really supportive and helped us to realise that we are the designers, and that we need to trust in our own work and in the creative decisions we make.

What’s going to happen next for you?

This year it’s the first time that BA (Hons) Printed Textile Design & Surface Pattern have gone to New Designers, which is super exciting! I’m looking forward to networking and hopefully lining up a few more internships this summer.

Looking a bit further ahead, I have a dream of living by the sea in Cornwall. There are some flourishing businesses down in the South West and I’d absolutely LOVE to work with a small, close-knit team of people and really be able to put my own stamp on my work.

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