In the spirit of enabling artists holed up in their homes during quarantine, classic sneaker brand Converse recently unveiled the #CreateAtHome campaign, a call to design a pattern for your dream pair of Converses.
The campaign was a chance to be showcased across the brand’s Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok accounts, and even the possibility of being tapped by the brand for commissioned content.
Following its popularity globally and hundreds of entries, third-year BA (Hons) Printed Textile Design & Surface Pattern student Madeleine Willis won 4th place, with her bold and vibrant design being showcased on Schuh’s Instagram Stories. We caught up with Madeleine to chat about her winning design...
Congratulations on your win Madeleine! Can you tell us a bit about the Converse x Schuh competition?
Thanks! I first heard about the competition through Instagram, a lot of creatives I follow were getting involved and I had a couple of designs I really wanted to enter for it. We’re always encouraged to enter competitions and live design briefs to gain industry contacts and to showcase ourselves as designers, I enter literally everything I find because it could be the thing that gets me my dream job. For the competition we had to enter designs for the converses, the more you enter the more chance you have of winning. It was a great way of keeping everyone creative during lockdown and was something fun to do!
What were your thoughts and inspirations behind the design?
Since lockdown began I’ve been finding it hard to focus on my work, so I decided to do a pattern a day to keep myself motivated and get used to my new workspace. I’ve been trying out lots of different design styles and different subject matter each day, I wanted a really vibrant design for this and the mixture of lemons, yellows and greens were perfect!
How did you feel when you found out your design had been selected?
I was over the moon when I saw the message on Instagram, I immediately started crying! I was so pleased as it was a global campaign and I wasn’t expecting it at all.
“It is really exciting to see Maddy applying her Surface Pattern design skills to different product ideas, Maddy's response to the Converse x Schuh competition was a great example of how flexible and adaptable our students are, designing patterns for different surfaces from fashion to interiors. Maddy is an excellent student, determined, creative and hard-working. It is a joy to watch her grow as a designer, adapt her skills and try new things.”
— Emma Gribble, Printed Textile Design & Surface Pattern and Textiles Practices Lecturer
You’re just finishing your third year, what has it been like to adapt your way of working during the lockdown?
I found it a little difficult at the start to adapt, but I managed to set up my own little workspace which has helped me focus a lot more. I’m glad that I have the habit of buying every art supply I see because it meant that I had more tools for designing with and have been experimenting with new mediums I wouldn’t have usually thought of when having use of the print facilities.
Everyone has been super supportive, our lecturers have been checking in with us to see how we’re coping, the studio technicians have also been amazing, sharing process videos and being on hand for online support. PCA has been keeping everyone up to date with the student bulletin which has really helped, and I also feel to bring everything online like they did took a lot of work and it doesn’t go unmissed, so thank you!
What would your advice be for aspiring textile designers who are about to start uni?
Make use of the studio facilities and the studio technicians for sure, they’ve helped me so much during my time at PCA, I always stayed in the studio until late at night to make sure I was putting as much effort in as possible. The only thing I wish I’d done more of was the Workshop Wednesdays, it’s a great way of learning new skills that perhaps you hadn’t thought of trying but now have the chance to alongside your chosen discipline.
What’s next for you?
Next is to find a freelance job in the area of surface pattern prints, I’ve always dreamed of working for companies like Cath Kidston and Joules, so I’m keeping an eye out for any jobs advertised. I’ve also got some work experience planned for later on this year as it was postponed at Easter - I’m really looking forward to that!
Discover more about studying Printed Textile Design & Surface Pattern at Plymouth College of Art here.