We take a look inside sketchbooks to unveil the thought processes behind the work of six fashion graduates from the class of ’23 in NCAD.
A portfolio presentation can be a beautiful artefact, composed and curated with sensitivity and a clear aesthetic. It is a synopsis of a body of work which has been evaluated, edited and communicated concisely. Portfolios, however, can be sterile and impersonal. They don’t tell the story or express the narrative, the research journey which fashion students undertake in the development of their final collections.
The sketchbook, on the other hand, is an honest reflexive undertaking. It is a very soulful documentation of the student’s design thinking from initial research through to final garment solutions. Students undertake a variety of approaches and research methodologies in the generation, investigation and development of ideas. Drawing is a core tool used in this process. We encourage students to own their inspirational sources and subjects through the process of drawing (observational, technical, gestural etc.) which are all used to gain a new perspective on the research and encourage a more individual creative vision.
The sketchbook journey is multifaceted and no two individuals will approach it in the same way. It is an opportunity to visualise their individual point of view. Some students are driven by a clear concept, context or design problem, while others are stimulated by more tangible elements such as draping on the stand or reacting to specific materials or techniques. Each student records their design process in an individual way. They undertake a variety of approaches which could include photography, collage, fabric manipulation, or creative construction. Drawing ranges from quick thumbnails to fully formed technical spec drawings. Materials are investigated through manipulation, finishing techniques, suppliers and cost, giving the sketchbook a very tactile appearance.
“The sketchbook is as much to do with the struggles as the successes, but most of all it should be about reflection.”
Both concept development and visual research can run simultaneously. The approach students take can be very linear or more random and spontaneous. They can jump from initial sketches to stand work, pattern making and back again, entering and leaving the process at different points, revisiting and reworking ideas continuously. The breath of ideas generation should be wide and deep. The investigation into shape, materials and construction techniques should also be intense.
Challenges and problems should be clearly annotated, mistakes embraced as they can sometimes be fortuitous. The sketchbook is as much to do with the struggles as the successes, but most of all it should be about reflection. The sketchbook allows the student to take ownership not only of the ideas and outcomes but of the design process itself. This is valuable learning which gives them confidence in their future practice as design creatives. – Linda Byrne, Fashion & Textiles lecturer, NCAD.
Photos: Ruth Connolly