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NCAD Dublin Alumni Stories: Amy Kerr Textiles Surface Designer

22 Jun 2023, 13:24

Thread used in the textile industry

Name: Amy Kerr

Current Career: Textiles Surface Designer

Graduation Year: 2021

Discipline: Textiles Surface Design

Location: Maynooth, Ireland

What career path did you want to follow as a child?

It seems I have been doing art since I can first remember. I grew up in a magical and creative home. My parents and family have always provided amazing support. I think I have always been an extremely creative person. I always saw myself going to Art College. There was never a time where I didn’t see myself going to work in the creative sector.

I have always had an interest in fashion and clothes. However, when I was younger I had not thought of myself as a weaver. As I went through secondary school, I thought I was going to go into graphic design but I have always kept an open mind.

Now, I absolutely love weaving. Having an appreciation for such a traditional craft, while simultaneously exploring innovative processes and futuristic ideas, drives my creativity. The tutors and technicians at NCAD were a huge part of my career development journey. They helped and inspired me in so many different ways.

Why did you decide to study at National College of Art & Design?

NCAD was my dream college and I always wanted to study there. NCAD has a brilliant reputation. It is one of the only universities I am aware of that offers a Core Studies year in your first year of your degree.

Core Studies enables you to explore various art and design departments and disciplines before you get to select the one(s) you would like to specialize in. To get the most out of this opportunity, you are encouraged to be very experimental. While I had an idea that I wanted to go into the School of Design, I wasn’t 100% sure which department to go into. I would not have discovered Textile and Surface Design if I hadn’t had the opportunity to try it out in my first year.

NCAD was such a magical experience. It has really helped shape me, not only as a designer but also on a personal level too. I could not have achieved this without the amazingly supportive NCAD staff, students, and Students Union.

How did you develop your career towards your current job or practice?

I am still developing my practice and am in the early stages of my career. However, having to be self-directed in the final year really helped me focus on who I am as a designer. It clarified my priorities. It also helped me to figure out where I want to go in my career. Now, I really want a deeper understanding of the textiles design industry. Specifically, I want to investigate where science and design can combine to work towards a more sustainable future.

Entering a variety of juried international design competitions and awards has really helped me to develop my practice as a designer. The various competition and award platforms provided opportunities for excellent industry exposure and much needed publicity. My success provided a high level of design industry recognition that is important for my career prospects.

The design competition and awards application processes help me to refine statements about my research and work. This process helped me to more professionally convey what I am doing and plan to do in the future. Also, this form of necessary self-reflection helps me to generate a deeper understanding of my practice.

My achievements have recently helped me to secure a professional position at NCAD. I am now the Weave Technical Officer! This is an exciting opportunity which will help me to continue and share my practice by teaching woven techniques and processes.

What is the one experience during your time at NCAD that has informed you most in your career and work to date?

As I have said, the self-reflective experience of my final year helped inform my work most. Completing my final year in the height of the global pandemic forced me to really focus on time management and to make important decisions by myself. Initially, I found I was constantly looking for approval from my tutors. As the year went on, I had to learn how to be more self-confident.

Access to the NCAD campus was very limited during the pandemic. I was forced to do a lot of the work at home and by myself. However, I found the very challenging final year gave me so much more confidence and self-belief. Beyond the development of my work itself, I found it takes considerable skill and practice to build relationships and networks. This experience taught me a lot and will continue to influence my work as a designer and creative!

If you were chatting with current NCAD students today what is the one piece of advice you would offer?

Students need to explore and experiment with their work as much as possible while they are in college. They should not be scared to take risks or to make mistakes. This will help them to learn and to grow as makers and designers. When you have the luxury of a good studio space and access to great equipment and staff with a wealth of knowledge, you really need to make the most of it. When you leave college one of the biggest struggles is the lack of equipment or access to it. Equipment like looms!

Students should never be too scared to ask the staff and their peers for help and advice.

Enjoy your time as an NCAD student. Explore new things and get involved in as much as you can while you can. Most importantly remember to have fun!

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