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Jacob Patterson

MA Textiles (Knit), 2015–2017

What were you doing before you started at the RCA?

My background is in theatre; I was doing lighting design and working as an all-round theatre technician: a bit of set design, a bit of prop-making. I was getting tired of working on other people’s visions and wanted to work on my own.

I started making props for a company in Sydney and they gave me the freedom to use my hands creatively and make some puppets. I really enjoyed the process of making textiles and realised this was something I wanted to investigate further. I moved to London and tried to expand those skills by doing some short courses and then did a few fashion internships, at Jasper Garvida, Raffaele Ascione and Sibling. It felt like the right path so I did an undergraduate degree in Fashion Textiles, specialising in knitted textiles at the London College of Fashion.

Why did you want to study at the RCA?

I went straight into the Master’s. The RCA has such a great reputation and it was always something I had in mind, but I never thought I was talented enough or had the confidence to do it. My tutor, Caroline Clewer was a great mentor to me, and she encouraged me to push myself and take the next step. The RCA definitely feels like a good marriage for me and the right point of my life to be doing this.

Have there been any particular projects you’ve especially enjoyed?

I’ve had the chance to collaborate with some footwear designers, and I made some shoes with Helen Kirkum. That was a great opportunity to see where my textiles can go and opens up options in different realms that I wouldn’t otherwise have access to. 

Most of the successful collaborations I’ve enjoyed have come about informally and are self-initiated as opposed to briefs set by tutors. For example, one came about after the work-in-progress shows in first year, which is a great opportunity to see what everyone else is working on. The flexibility and openness to nurture and encourage projects like that is something that is really key to the RCA and certainly to Textiles; there are so many opportunities here.

Can you describe the environment at the RCA?

Textiles is very lucky because we’re on the seventh floor so we have this epic view across  the park and the rooftops around us. There are lots of windows and plenty of light; it’s an amazing space to work in. It’s an environment that’s very welcoming ,and there’s a buzz about the studio. You get a big desk and room to put all your stuff so it’s really a home, or proper base for creativity.

How have you and your work developed over the time you’ve been at the College?

I’ve become a lot more confident in myself and my work, and frequent contact with great tutors has a lot to do with that. I feel like the theatrical aspect within my work is starting to come out more and more, and that’s something the tutors have been able to see in me, even before I’ve realised it myself. 

When I first started to work in fashion, I was consciously stepping away from theatre, but now my work is coming back around to the theatrical – that’s what excited me and brings out the best in me; it’s not subtle, it has to be loud and bright and fun and bring a smile to people’s faces. That’s the aim. I’m also fine-tuning my skills with hand-knitting and machine-knitting, and getting to understand exactly what kind of designer I am.

What are you working on at the moment?

I’m really enjoying my current project. The aim is to have about five whacky, bonkers jumpers ready for the final show. I’ve just exhibited one for the work-in-progress show, which was this nice fluffy, white-and-pink flamingo thing. All of them are going to have their own character or signature and hopefully they’ll speak as a whole as well. The inspirations are artists like Nick Cave, Gary Card, Jeff Koons – that kind of feeling.

What have you found particularly rewarding about your time at the RCA?

I think number one is the community. I’ve met some amazing people, who I hope to stay in contact with my whole life. Number two is that, for me, it’s really important to have a good portfolio of work with a range that allows me to have options after graduation, so that I can go in any direction I desire. It’s really given me the tools to go into the industry.

My ideal would be to work for a top fashion house making their show pieces; I really enjoy spending hours and hours on end making one or two show pieces, putting a lot of energy into making a moment with one garment, or that one garment becoming an image in a high-end editorial magazine. That’s my aim. Is it possible? Hopefully!

"It’s an amazing space to work in. It’s an environment that’s very welcoming , and there’s a buzz about the studio. You get a big desk and room to put all your stuff so it’s really a home, or proper base for creativity."
Jacob Patterson
Jacob Patterson