Art Interviews

“Stags inspired from the Scottish family crest … Burmese-inspired block printed patterns” – the contemporary fusion of textile designer Rachel Reynolds

As we begin our new series of artist interviews, talks to contemporary textile designer Rachel Reynolds, who combines aesthetic layering of both hand-drawn and digital elements to achieve her unique contemporary style.

What first inspired you to transfer your art onto fabrics, wallpapers and home furnishings?

I have always been drawn to fabric and interiors.  I was fascinated with clothes, pattern and decoration as a child and I adored my grandmother’s collection of dresses and textiles, that she had saved from when she was younger.  I was also constantly changing my bedroom around, re-organising the layout, redecorating the walls; it was the one place I was allowed a bit of freedom to experiment with and I made the most of it – I think that has stayed with me!  After graduating, my first commission was for a set of large-scale banners for a conference event.  The scale was challenging, but I really enjoyed experimenting with the proportion and perspective, as well as the process that was involved with seeing the design transferred to fabric and brought to life with the colour and texture.   I have been fortunate to continue to work to various commissions and have learnt from that first experience, developing my skills along the way, but my natural instinct is for interiors.


"Coins" Large Drum Shade by Rachel Reynolds

“Coins” Large Drum Shade by Rachel Reynolds

 I have always wondered about the repeated nature of the art when it goes onto wallpaper – are there any particular difficulties to consider?

The repeat designs for wallpapers, fabrics and for the one-off textiles I approach very differently, they each have their own considerations. The one-off pieces I produce are not restricted to the drawings and patterns of the design being correctly repeated, therefore they tend to be more fluid in design and application.

There are two stages with the ‘one-off’ pieces.  Firstly, there is the initial paper sketch designs, which give an indication of the end result.  Then  there is the second stage of applying and creating the textile piece, allowing for changes in the process with the hand painting and screen printing of texture, print or colour (I really enjoy this process of development and adapting if need be).  With commissions, it is slightly different in that the design I create on paper has to reflect the final fabric form, however the client is always aware and supportive of the nature of the hand process and the possibility of subtle differences and changes that may occur, due to the hand-painted and printed nature.

"Heritage Luxury Wallpapers" by Rachel Reynolds

“Heritage Luxury Wallpapers” by Rachel Reynolds

Are there any considerations involved in projecting the designs over an entire room, or wallspace, at the customer’s discretion – rather than being in control of size and frame?

For wallpaper and fabrics the end use obviously has to be considered from the beginning; in terms of ensuring the designs will match as repeats for wallpaper, and making the practicalities for the customer as smooth a process as possible! What the customer sees in paper form has to be the same in the finished product. It is very different from the outset for me, when designing and drawing for wallpaper and fabrics. I had to re-train my thinking when it came to designing for the Heritage collection, and fortunately this is a result of the time I spent studying towards the MA in Textile Design at Winchester School of Art in  2011/2012.

Although there has been a nod to repeat in some of my earlier work, learning repeat patterns again thoroughly with the addition of digital technology, revitalised my work. Being able to take initial drawings from my sketchbook and use those directly in creating a repeat pattern, then transferring that to a small or large space has been an eye opener!  I thoroughly enjoy the pattern, uniformity and structure that repeat can give and mixing that up with free-hand, screen-printed and painted artwork.  I would like to merge the two together more in my work.  It is also very helpful to be able to step out of designing a “hand and digital” repeat wallpaper and have the time to work on a commission that is large-scale and purely hand-painted and screen-printed.

"Mini Stag" cotton fabric detail - by Rachel Reynolds

“Mini Stag” cotton fabric detail – by Rachel Reynolds

 What inspires the hand-drawn aspects of your work – are there specific places of inspiration that these images are drawn from?

The Heritage collection was derived from my final MA project at Winchester School of Art.  This was a self-directed project that was inspired by my Burmese (mother’s side) and Scottish (father’s side) heritage, intermixed with my own. I created ‘collections’ from each and then juxtaposed that with my personal heritage, the idea being to add a contemporary twist. This included memorabilia such as; buttons, clothes and books from my Burmese grandmother, a collection of old coins, matchboxes, kilts, postcards, maps and photographs from my Scottish grandparents and, for the present day, architecture that was of significance to me; Stockport Viaducts (Stockport my hometown) and Southampton walls (where I live today).  Following the MA I refined the collection and added new designs including complimentary ones for luxury wallpapers, furnishing fabrics, light shades, greetings cards and more recently bone china mugs, which I launched as the Heritage collection in 2014.

"Heritage Fabrics" by Rachel Reynolds

“Heritage Fabrics” by Rachel Reynolds

Drawings of Stockport viaducts and Scottish thistles can be found in design ‘ Viaduct’ wallpaper and light shades. Drawings of Southampton Walls, peacocks, old maps of Burma and Scotland can be found in the design ‘Southampton Fusion’ wallpaper (the complimentary fabric, wallpaper and light shades are design ‘Undulating Feather’).  Drawings of thistles are, as the name suggests, in ‘ Thistle’ and ‘Stripey Thistle’ designs, and Stags inspired from the Scottish family crest, alongside Burmese inspired block printed pattern are found in design ’Stag’ wallpaper and light shades (the complimentary fabric, wallpaper and light shades are in the ‘Mini Stag’ pattern).

Finally, what are your upcoming plans for 2015?

I am currently working on a series of projects, including a new commission for a set of hand and screen printed banners for a hospital chapliancy in Los Angeles.  There are new outlets coming soon for a selection of my Heritage products and I am also currently working on a set of new designs for products to add to my colour and creation range, to be out shortly!
"Viaduct Wallpaper" by Rachel Reynolds

“Viaduct Wallpaper” by Rachel Reynolds

You can find out more about Rachel’s work at: and @rachreynolds

Words: Rachel Reynolds
Art, Design, Photography: Rachel Reynolds
Interview & article by: Beck @artistscribbles

1 reply »

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s