A retrospective look at CMYUK’s Creatives in Residence Live

Melony Roque, CMYUK’s group brand communications and content manager

In this article, Melony Roque, group brand communications and content manager at CMYUK, takes a look back at the Creatives in Residence Live programme which ended in March.

Creatives in Residence Live (CIRL) was set up to demonstrate CMYUK’s long-term commitment to digital textile printing.

As a company we have long been a hub for textile printing for the sign and display markets, but as printer equipment technology has evolved along with inks and materials, so has the reach of applications into non-traditional areas such as décor, apparel, and fashion.

Radical transformation

The textile industry is currently undergoing radical transformation – disrupted by digital printing capabilities and e-commerce business models. These lend themselves to on-demand personalisation for short-runs, one-offs, and just-in-time production processes that dispense with the need for expensive infrastructure and drastically reduce waste.

The CMYUK CIRL programme has enabled three young creatives – Keely Russell, Evie Venables, and Sarah Willcocks to fully absorb these trends and technologies. It has provided them with valuable insights, experience, mentoring, and practical knowledge that is simply unavailable anywhere else to this level.

CMYUK is not an advocate of internships because we see that this experience route is only really open to well-resourced individuals. We advertised the opportunity through the government’s Kickstart scheme which basically is a paid six-month internship programme, and fully optimised it to create a truly worthwhile and totally unique experience.

For this programme, CMYUK partnered with industry expert, multi-disciplined practitioner, and award-winning textile designer Debbie McKeegan who authored an exclusive six-month curriculum consisting of monthly modules. As well as being the founder of Texintel, the independent online resource for the digital textile community, Debbie also represented FESPA as its Textile Ambassador for this project.

Each module underpinned the knowledge and insights required for our surface designers to complete monthly briefs and was supported by industry experts, print designers, specialist practitioners, and mentors. All design briefs were made available online so that other design students could participate if they so wished.

To try and make the project appeal to a wide audience we added the social media/ documentary element to the initiative by bringing in a young media graduate Taylor Doggett on board, who now works for us full time.

We were really heartened by the generosity this initiative spawned. CMYUK received sponsorship from world leading technology brands including Epson, Canon, EFI, Kongsberg Cutting Systems, Klieverik, Mimaki, and AE Sewing Machines.

The CIRL graduates with Richard Williams, Hybrid’s showroom manager

Mentored throughout

Our graduates were mentored throughout by a number of luminaries including internationally respected design writer and talent spotter Barbara Chandler; London luxury interiors brand, Divine Savages; World class British fabric printer, Standfast and Barracks; pattern trend and research company, Pattern Curator; surface pattern design for global interiors and gifts, Mary Jones Design; kidswear designer, Lucy Swann; decorative interiors designer, Freya Richmond; contemporary upholstery company, Loose Button; decorative printing software specialist, AVA CAD/CAM Group;  interior design duo, Brennan & Burch;  CAD for fashion training facility, Erica Horne; pattern cutting and samples studio, The Pattern Room; surface pattern designer and decorative artist, Diane Marsland; and bespoke interiors company, Avalana Designs among others.

All those involved carved out time from extremely busy schedules either coming to CMYUK in person, or on Zoom, or arranging for CIRL graduates to visit them at their own premises. The goodwill and enthusiasm for this project was apparent right from the start.

CIRL has been CMYUK’s most ambitious marketing project to date. All those involved recognised the value and uniqueness of this project. Our graduates were immersed in the world of digital textile printing with access to the finest digital production equipment in the world – something that no university could ever provide. In addition, the quality of the mentors meant that they were receiving true insights based on the daily demands of the workplace.

Three of our four graduates have secured full time positions with prestigious companies, and as an organisation we are extremely proud of what this initiative has achieved. Everyone at CMYUK was invested in the programme and went above and beyond to make it a success, on top of their already hectic day jobs. CIRL was designed as a comprehensive one-off event to help raise further the profile of our textiles in non-traditional markets, but it was designed to be much more than that.

Lindsey Arnold, separation expert and customer solution advisor at AVA with the graduates

Bring the industry together

We felt the impact of the COVID-19 lockdown across the creative industries. Many of us are parents and we saw how students in the creative sphere were being affected with placements, exhibitions, and end of year shows being cancelled. We wanted to turn pandemic restrictions into something that would bring the digital textile industry together and make a difference.

It is possible that we may adapt a version of it in the future as we introduce and explore new developments within digital wide format printing. Our CMYUK graduates who took part in this programme, know that we are always here for them, ready to help in any way that we can.

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