Mentors involved with the CMYUK Creatives in Residence Live programme applaud the initiative

CMYUK Creatives in Residence Live logo
Industry experts and mentors are ensuring a world-class learning journey for the graduates

The CMYUK Creatives in Residence Live (CIRL) initiative is now 12 weeks into its 6-month tenure.  Built on the back of the government’s kickstart programme, it provides a valuable transition between higher education and the demands of the commercial workplace for young intern surface designers Evie Venables, Sarah Willcocks, Keely Russell,  and videographer Taylor Doggett. 

“I’m very proud of this project and all of our CIRL collaborators. The graduates have embraced everything so far with professionalism and enthusiasm. There’s no doubt that by sharing our knowledge and resources we will accelerate their career trajectory – and that’s so important. Sharing knowledge is critical to the future of the  design and print industry. A five-minute conversation can change so much for these young creatives. I look forward to the next phase in their learning journey and thank everybody so far for their time and their enthusiasm” said Debbie McKeegan, CMYUK partner, CEO of Texintel and the FESPA Textile Ambassador.   

Technology masterclasses 

A dedicated studio has been built for the CIRL programme at CMYUK’s world-class demonstration and training facility in Shrewsbury. To date the creatives have enjoyed rigorous masterclass sessions using Epson, Mimaki, Canon and EFI digital printers along with Klieverik heat presses, Kongsberg digital cutting tables and AE Sewing Machines.


A vital element to the CIRL initiative has been the strong line up of mentors working in the fashion and décor industries who have given the graduates valuable insights about the realities of working in today’s creative industries.   This advice has been imparted either by in-person visits to CMYUK, various Zoom sessions, or CIRL visiting mentors’ studios and production facilities around the UK. 

Mentors so far have included Mary Jones Design, Standfast and Barracks, Divine Savages, The Pattern Room, F’Roze, Erica Horne, and Loose Button.  Additional mentors will join the programme when the next set of briefs are announced. 

Adam Slade, Studio Supervisor at Lancaster-based Standfast and Barracks said, “I love the idea of this programme, which gives newly qualified textile designers a real taste of the industry. The live briefs are a great way to give a feel of how the industry works and what customers expect from print services. It was fantastic to be involved in this and give my thoughts and advice on the work the creatives had produced. 

“My advice to young designers today is keep up to date with as much as you can. That includes trends, latest CAD software and print capabilities. Go to shows, speak to people. Immerse yourself in the world of print as much as you can, even if you think you’re being a bit cheeky sometimes!” 

Daniel Watts, Chief Financial Officer at The Pattern Room said, “The world around us is changing every day, but the clothing & fashion industry seems largely stuck in its ways. There are some fabulous initiatives which are happening at the fringe but which aren’t yet mainstream and are generally not affordable to those passionate newcomers to the industry. We are hoping that our solution will change that and become the norm. 

“Speaking with those that have a glint in their eye and cogs spinning at full speed is something we just love. The opportunities that CMYUK is providing is thrilling.  It opens the door that little bit wider to bring in much needed change and give some wonderful creatives a platform from which they will succeed. 

“Speaking with the team at CMYUK from our headquarters in Melbourne, Australia, proves that anything is possible, that the world is right there at your fingertips.  Success might not come from where you expect and anybody you come across might be a game-or life-changer,” he said. 

Jamie Watkins, one half of the Divine Savages design duo said,  “The CMYUK CIRL programme provides a great head start for young designers considering a career in the industry;  it's something we wish we had access to ourselves when launching!

“The advancement of digital printing is disrupting the industry and now is the perfect time for creatives to jump head first into their design journey. We wanted to share our experience and knowledge since launching Divine Savages and offer practical insight for the students’ future careers.”

Offering advice to young designers starting out today, Jamie said, “Follow your passion! There are so many opportunities to explore within the digital space, so experiment with your own design work, absorb as much as you can and gain practical experience.” 

Robin East, Group Sales & Marketing Director at CMYUK said, “Having the Creatives in Residence as a live project in our demonstration facility creates such a buzz. It’s very gratifying to help build the graduates technological skills and introduce them to a comprehensive range of digital print-ready fabrics to acquire another knowledge layer that will underpin the careers of these young people. As we have seen with our mentors and industry sponsors, there is such goodwill towards them.  CMYUK is delighted to provide them with a platform on which to broaden their commercial skills and shine.”  

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