Zeena Shah is the multi talented textile designer, author and teacher behind, How to Print Fabric. Her delightful book is filled with fresh ideas and accessible projects to brighten up every corner of the house. By cleverly combining simple hand printing techniques with sewing projects, she demonstrates how to make beautiful fabric into practical, everyday items.
We asked Zeena about her journey into textile design and the things she just can’t live without…
How did you become a textile designer?
It all began with an art foundation course at Chelsea School of Art, i’d thought I might like to become a graphic designer or interior designer at first but then delved into the world of fabric and pattern in the fashion and textiles department and I was hooked! I then got a place on the Textile Design degree the following year and it was love at first print!
What does a typical day look like?
It always starts with a breakfast smoothie in a bid to kick my caffeine habit. Then I hop on my bicycle called Betty and head off to my East London studio. I try to split my day into two halves beginning with my admin/orders and general enquiries about workshops etc. before having a break for lunch. Then the afternoon (when not still catching up on my admin from the first part of the day) is spent doing more creative projects such as commissions, bespoke print designs, illustration and of course some screen printing! I am quite a night owl so tend to work a bit later into the evening before heading home to relax!
I find so much of my inspiration in the things around me and my every day environments. I love collecting things and looking to nature for inspiration. One of the projects in my book uses fallen leaves as a tool for printing with. I love that you can pick up a fallen leaf and transform it into a wonderful design for fabric. Others inspirations come from some of my favourite Scandinavian designers, traditional Polish papercuts and Japanese textiles.
Are there any key designers that you follow?
I love Marimekko and Sanna Annukha’s illustrations for the brand, the designs are so wonderfully colourful and graphic they have a lovely feel to them. I also adore Orla Kiely’s collections and am coveting one of her gorgeous printed bags. Vera Neuman’s incredible scarf collections are always a joy to look through.
The Fox print pillow has to be my favourite project. It’s a variation of one of my signature shaped screen printed pillow designs and I love that
everyone can make their own little fox for their homes too.
Do you have any advice for aspiring textile designers?
Stay true to yourself and find your unique selling point. It is a very difficult industry to start out in but persevere and you will get there. I’d also suggest making as many contacts and meeting as many interesting people in the Textile and design world as you can. Everyone is so generous and you never know who you might meet and what it could lead to.
The one thing you can’t live without?
My iphone! Gosh I don’t think I could live without instagram at the moment, I am terribly addicted and just love how quickly you can share a thought or idea. It’s been a wonderful way to show my followers some sneaky peeks from the book before it’s released in a few weeks time.
What exiting projects are on the horizon?
I’ve just signed my second book deal and will be illustrating an adult colouring book in the coming weeks. I am so excited to be able to focus on some more of my illustration work this month and can’t wait to share it with you all when it comes out next year.
Get your copy of How to Print Fabric today and receive the eBook for free! To find out more about Zeena, visit her website at: www.zeenashah.com