How does the work of the textile artist differ from that of the designer, designer maker or craftsperson? – Part 4 research point

How does the work of the textile artist differ from that of the designer, designer maker or craftsperson?

To enable me to answer this question I feel we need to look at the definition of each and look at their roles in the world of textiles.

According to the online dictionary the definitions of Artist, Designer and Craftsperson are as follows:

Artist – a person who produces works in any of the arts that are primarily subject to aesthetic criteria.

Designer  a person who devises or executes designs,  especially one who creates forms, structures, and patterns, as for works of art or machines.

Craftsperson – a person who practices or is highly skilled in a craft; artisan.

They do not have a definition for Designer maker but a quick google search found a definition on a page named they define a designer maker as:

Designer maker – Those who both design and make their own products, who bring together their creative ideas and making skills in individual production of their designs.

So in essence, Artists create works of art, these do not need to have purpose they can make a statement or just be aesthetically pleasing. Designers create designs for items or products that generally have some sort of purpose but can be aesthetic as well. The items themselves are made by someone else like The Craftsman. The Designer Maker both designs and makes their own products therefore is an amalgamation of both Designer and Craftsman.

There are a few crossovers between the different groups, all are creative and most design using their own ideas. All are working to produce designs unique to them and both the designer maker and craftsman create items using their own high level of skill.

Which am I? I would describe myself as a designer maker as I do design and make my own items. Although I do create works of art I prefer to design and make items with a purpose.

Choose two internationally known textile artists whose work you find particularly inspiring.

It is hard for me to pick two textile artists whose work I find particularly inspiring as there are quite a few. So i thought I would choose one who has inspired me for quite a long time and one more recent discovery.

Clyde Olliver

“For me the big question  (actually I think it’s the only question) is the one Gaugin asked: Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we Going? Until I know the answer I’ll just get on with making what I can as best as I can.  What more can one hope to do?” – Clyde Olliver

One of the textile artists who have inspired me the longest is Clyde Olliver. I think I first came across his work at the Knitting and Stitching show at Alexandra Palace in 2003. I was entranced by the standing slates with heavy stitching, making marks almost like ancient writing. I had never seen anything like it before. The idea of using this kind of heavyweight natural material was a revelation and opened my eyes to many fascinating possibilities. Kim Thittichai dscribes it in her book Experimental Textiles: A Journey Through Design, Interpretation and Inspiration as ” Stones and slate had been drilled, carved and stitched to create very pleasing and simple, but nevertheless decorative surfaces.”

Clyde himself explains his work on his website: “Much of my work lies between the disciplines of sculpture and embroidery, since typically it consists of stitched slate or other suitable stone. Sometimes the work is primarily sculptural – with stitch used as a means of mark making or as an aid to construction. At other times the work is primarily embroidery – with stitch the main element of the work.”

Clyde started stitching early (about the age of six) using paper and cardboard to stitch on and make things. As an adult he went to art school as a mature student in his early forties after having a number of jobs including as he says himself “theatrical props making and oriental carpet repair eventually becoming studio assistant to tapestry maker Marta Rogoyska in the 1980’s.” After studying foundation studies at City of London Polytechnic (Curiously about the same time as my uncle was studying there), he went on to study a textile degree at Goldsmith’s college. In 2007 he was awarded the ‘Scholar’ bursary by the Embroiderers’ Guild. He now lives in the Lake District, “where the rocky landscape provides both materials and inspiration.”


Materials: Slate and other suitable stone

Scale: A few centimeters up to a meter

Technique: Stitching with natural yarns, rope etc. through drilled, carved stone and slate

Influences: Giorgio Morandi, Ulrich Ruckriem, David Nash, Pablo Picasso, Audrey Walker, Richard Long, Tony Cragg, Andy Goldsworthy

West Morland Knot by Clyde Olliver


2010 ‘Transitions’ Knitting and Stitching Show – London, Dublin, Harrogate

2008 ‘Aggregate’ Backdoor Gallery, Glasgow

2006 ‘A Welsh Quilt Project’ Festival of Quilts, NEC. Birmingham

2005 L’aiguille en Fete, Paris

2003 ‘Big Stitch’ Knitting and Stitching Show – London, Dublin, Harrogate


2011 – 12 ‘BITE – SIZE’ Daiwa Foundation, London and Japan

2011 Stroud International Textile Festival

2011 ‘At a Tangent’ Gallery Oldham

2010 ‘The Dartboard For Witches’ Aberystwyth Arts Centre

2009 ‘Bending The Line’ 62 Group at The Hub, Sleaford

2007-8 ‘Pricked-Extreme Embroidery’ Museum of Arts and Design, New York

2007 ‘Cloth and Stone’ with Jen Jones, Farfield Mill, Sedburgh

2005 Guest artist at Pauline Burbidge and Charles Poulsen’s Open Studio

2001 ‘Art of Quilts’ Shipley Gallery, Gateshead

1999 ‘Insights’ with ‘Art of the Stitch’ – London and Gateshead

1996 – 98 ‘Revelations’ Maidstone, London, Tokyo and UK tour.

Still life by Clyde Olliver


Experimental Textiles: A Journey Through Design, Interpretation and Inspiration – Kim Thittichai Anova Books, 2009

Emily Jo Gibbs

He is so like you 2013

I came across Emily Jo Gibbs’ work at the 62 group exhibition ‘small talk’ that we visited with the OCA at Goldsmiths College in June 2013. I was blown away by her piece ‘he is so like you’ as mentioned in my previous post about the study visit:

    Silver Birch 2005

Her Artist statement on her website reads: ‘Over the last decade Emily Jo Gibbs has established an international reputation for her exquisite handbags. She has received significant critical acclaim for her work and pieces are held in the permanent collections of the V&A, the Crafts Council and The Museum of Fine Art, Houston. Emily has a wonderful talent for combining materials and creates beautiful objects that have been inspired by her observations of nature. Her latest work explores new techniques and develops the theme of nests. Bringing new techniques to my repertoire has broadened my approach, letting go of the bag form, developing my basket making skills and exploring forms in silver wire has led me in an exciting new direction. I am fascinated by the contrasts between materials, using a palette of colour and texture I try to describe something that is extremely beautiful, fragile and short-lived. I enjoy the notion that my work could be whisked away from the mantle piece and be taken out to a party.’

Emily Jo Gibbs gained her BA Hons 3D Design. Wood, Metals and Plastics at Wolverhampton Universiy in 1989 and currently lives in London. She describes herself as an Artist Maker.

Work made: Baskets, boxes, bags, portraits

Scale: Varied

Materials used: Sterling Silver, Various Metals, Willow, Birch, Buckram, Silk, Cotton.

Methods: Silversmithing, Stitching, French Randing

Solo exhibitions

2006 – Creative 8, Pennybamk Gallery, 33-35 St Johns Square London EC1

Group exhibitions

1998 – Satellites of Fashion, Crafts Council, London

2013 – ‘small talk’, the  62 group, Goldsmiths, London



About Julie Hooker

Having recently returned to my roots in Surrey, I am currently studying a BA Hons degree with the OCA. My work is often inspired by the local countryside in the beautiful Surrey Hills area and the wild rugged nature of the North Cornish coast. Steam engines and abandoned industrial history are also recent themes. A free machine embroiderer and felt maker; I like to explore the use of natural, found materials to create my art, whether that be as raw materials to stitch or weave with or as a material with which to produce dye or print with. Previously, I completed City and Guilds parts 1 & 2 Creative Embroidery at the East Berkshire College in Windsor in 2007. I was also awarded first place in the wearable art section of the National Quilt Championships 2008 and 2009 held annually at Sandown Park.
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