INTERVIEW: Surface Designer Katy Welsh


Katy Welsh is a print designer based between Bristol and Yorkshire. Currently studying Printed Textiles at Leeds College of Art, her style is already instantly recognisable and never fails to brighten its surroundings. Influenced by both of the cities she calls home, Katy’s work explores colour and texture in unique and refreshing ways. Having admired the work in progress on her Instagram feed and enjoyed the various homages to classic surface design mixed with original concepts and perfect colorways for many months, we caught up with Katy to find out more about her pathway into design and what inspires her.

How did you become a print designer?

I’ve been studying art full-time since I was 18 but didn’t realise that I wanted to do textiles until a few days before the UCAS deadline. I was torn between enrolling on a set design course and an illustration course. Luckily I made the right choice. I think I would have been terrible at set design.

Now, my practice is driven by a desire to understand how unique, handmade work can fit into a market often driven by the quest for perfection. I’ll try my hand at anything be it greetings cards, fabric designs or interior products. I love to print dye and sew everything myself. I really love letting process lead outcome and embracing happy accidents.

Tell us about your workspace and your processes…

My workspace is a desk with a big board in front of it. I pin up pieces I’m currently working on and inspirational images to keep my mind focussed. I find that it helps the design process evolve. I’m now working in a gorgeous, light studio filled with plants and I’m surrounded by lots of very talented friends and colleagues. Its a great place to work everyday and it will be sorely missed come September.

My tool kit contains scissors and many, many pieces of coloured paper which I use to create the collages that inspire each print. I start everything with collage in the early stages. Another of my key tools is gouache, my favourite kind of paint. I use an A2 sketchpad because I like to visualise things on a large scale and lots of big, scruffy brushes.


Tell is about your favourite project to date…

My favourite project is my first collection. It was the first time my personal style manifested itself and the first time I really got to grips with screen printing. I’m also really happy with the colour across all the patterns. It was a super ambitious project as I printed each layer separately with six designs each in two colourways. I was very happy that I managed to get through it in the time frame I was faced with.

What inspires you?

Often nature because natural shapes really seem to fit well with my design style. These days, I’m looking to other sources of inspiration like collections of interesting objects or people more and more. I’d say my biggest creative influences are Matisse, Ellsworth Kelly, Bram Van Velde, Marni and mid-century graphics.

What are you working on at the moment?

I am just about to embark on my final collection. I’m in the very first stages of research at the moment but I can say with confidence that it will be a collection for the home. It’s going to employ more innovative materials and much more typical pattern design. It’s going to be a lot of work but I’m very excited about it.

Any big plans for the year ahead?

Graduating, entering the real world and maybe fitting in some travel. I’ve just started on a project that involves working with concrete with my friend Theo Riviere, check him out on Instagram. We’re hoping to have the outcome exhibited here in Leeds and perhaps we’ll sell some pieces too. Keep an eye out for more news on that this year.


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Words: Emily Beeson | @younggoldteeth