The beginning of the Emma Burton collection

I thought I'd start with the beginning......

I have loved taking photographs of textures, pattern and colour from nature and anything that inspired me since my art foundation course in 1995.  It could be from nature or some kitsch object that I picked up in a charity shop.  I would paste the printed photographs into my sketchbooks in order to inspire my work during my BA Hons Fashion Design degree at Northumbria University at Newcastle.  

In 1999 when I started a Mixed Media Textiles MA at the Royal College of Art in London I felt very lost as I had come from a fashion not a textiles background.  When I discovered the digital textile printing machine howeverit opened up a whole new world where I could combine my love of photography with textiles and I started to see how I could make sense of being in the world of textiles.

My work at the start was very literal with photographs printed directly onto fabric.  I would then screen print over the top of them with textures and graphic imagery and add a 3D element with beading, fabric manipulation and embroidery in order to break up the original photographic image.  I loved the juxtaposition of the fast digital photographic process combined with more traditional and time consuming hand work.  I would try and source unusual elements to stitch onto my work and would find inspiration in DIY shops where I would buy small objects that I could spray paint and use instead of beads.

For about 6 years after leaving the Royal College of Art I took a break from digital printing and instead focused on making a collection bags using vintage style fabrics selling them successfully to high street stores, doing some freelance textile work and also working freelance as a maker for fashion designers.

When I had run out of ideas on how to move the bag collection forward I looked once again to digital print.  My designs whilst at college weren’t commercial enough to use directly in products so I needed to work out how to create something original whilst making them appeal to a wider audience.  I worked on my Photoshop skills and started to manipulate the imagery in order to make the designs more abstract.  I did a trial run with a printers but the outcome was not a success apart from one design that I saw potential with as it made me realise that scale was the main issue.  I started being bolder and bigger and I have never looked back.

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