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Behind the scenes information, updates and general chat from Rachel at Holchester Designs.

Summer School & Summer Holidays

The summer holidays are on the horizon, and that means one other thing for me too - Make It In Design’s Summer School is on its way. I’ve participated in a few summer schools, and the Winter Schools too, and I’ve found them both a great resource for trend info but also to give me a bit of structure working to deadlines I wouldn’t otherwise have.

I have to confess last year it was a push for me with a 7 month old to look after full time plus a 3 year old in Nursery, but the focus it gave me was fantastic creative punctuation to my maternity leave and I was really proud in submitting designs to meet all the briefs in both tracks I participated in, so four new designs in total. And some of the designs you can see now in my portfolio too - Celestial Space, Migrating Cranes, Waterperry Meadow and Grasshopper Dance all developed out of Summer and previous Winter school briefs.

My Celestial Space Collection, which originated from one of the more recent Winter School Briefs. ©HolchesterDesigns

My Celestial Space Collection, which originated from one of the more recent Winter School Briefs. ©HolchesterDesigns

This year is very different though. The school holidays mean I’ve got less childcare through the working week and busier days will undoubtedly have an impact on how much creative energy I have at the end of the day. So I’ve taken the decision not to participate this year and I have to confess I’m already feeling the fear of missing out (FOMO). I’ve considered only doing one track, and given the deadline for joining hasn’t past yet I still might if the FOMO gets too much. But rather than overstretch and put pressure on myself and my creativity - something that history has taught me isn’t the way to get my best work - I thought I would try and be more present in August and pick things up again in September once our new routine is in place and the girls are settled. Although, another confession, I’m already chomping at the bit to get stuck in to my plans for the rest of the year.

The main purpose of this blog, however, is actually to encourage people to give Summer school a go, whether you are a surface pattern designer or not. The difference in the tracks is nothing to do with the standard of the briefs given or creative ability and is more to do the expected level of technical skills. For instance you don’t need specialist software or be able to put a pattern into a full technical repeat for the beginner track whilst you do for the Advanced. But what the range of briefs do give you is a structured challenge with a subject/theme you might not otherwise have given a go. In pushing you out of your comfort zone, and providing a frame of reference for you at the same time, you’re not ‘dropped in it’ at all and along with the supportive Facebook group I’ve not doubt your levels of motivation, enthusiasm and confidence will only grow. That is once the overwhelm has subsided - with so many people, 3 different briefs and so many different styles the Facebook space can seem overwhelming. My one piece of advice would be to sit with the overwhelm for a little and let it and the group settle as once it has you will not only be filled with admiration for the range of work produced all from the same starting point, but it is a brilliant lesson in just how much variety there is out there and how there really is space for everyone.

Working to simplify my grasshopper sketch into a line drawing as if it was made with wire, all whilst keeping myself properly fuelled. (Snacks are not a prerequisite for Summer School, but they help!). ©HolchesterDesigns

Working to simplify my grasshopper sketch into a line drawing as if it was made with wire, all whilst keeping myself properly fuelled. (Snacks are not a prerequisite for Summer School, but they help!). ©HolchesterDesigns

If you’re thinking about joining in if you head to the Make it In Design website you’ll see more information about all the different tracks, and some of last years briefs too which will give you an idea of what’s to come. The last few times they’ve been open to new participants for a few days after the school has started, which this year is the 29th July, and I imagine they’ll do the same again. And if you’re not sure about this year but are curious maybe have a go at the briefs from last year, I absolutely loved them and I’m sure you will too

And, of course, just me a shout if you do take part so I can come and cheer you on!

Right, I’ve got to be honest - writing this the FOMO has already intensified ten-fold. Maybe just one track would be ok………

PS - If you like the look of the Celestial Space collection do pop back in a few weeks as I’ll be doing a ‘Behind the Design’ post all about them!