Meet a member – Beth Leedham

Hi! I’m Beth – I’m a Textile Designer, a colour enthusiast and passionate about sustainability. I have always been into design and since a young age, I have always loved creativity.

What’s your background?

I did a foundation year in Leeds before going on to do my degree in Edinburgh. It was my foundation year where I really found out who I was and what I was truly passionate about. My tutor picked out in the early stages of the course that I had a really strong interest and good eye for colour & pattern. Textile Design wasn’t something that I initially thought of doing – I always thought I’d go into graphic communication or photography. This year really gave me an insight into fashion & textiles and it really was the spring board into university that I needed. This foundation year made me realise my true passions and where my strengths were as a designer.
I am now studying Textile Design at The University of Edinburgh. When I was looking around universities, I never would’ve dreamt that I would be studying in the beautiful city of Edinburgh. I am currently in my 4th year (final year) and I have grown so much not just as a designer, but within myself and my confidence too. I love the city of Edinburgh and this gives me endless inspiration. The community of creatives really is incredible and I love wide spread collaboration that goes on.
My passion for creativity and design stems in part from a very challenging early childhood experience, when aged two-and-a-half I had Bacterial Meningitis and was given a 50/50 chance of living. Going through this traumatic experience at a young age made me grow up realising how precious life is and how I should live every day to its limits, expressing my creativity as positively, honestly and powerfully as possible. I now seize every moment and opportunity, because I know it might not have been that way.

What are you working on at the moment?

I have a couple of exciting projects happening at the moment! During this stage of the year, we have started our final design collection. This includes a lot of research, trend analysis, design, developmental work and samples. I have always been passionate about sustainability and I wanted this to be at the heart of my project. My project focus is on celebrating denim’ – promoting re-using, re-cycling and re-imagining fabrics and resources that we already have. I aim to show that we, as designers and creatives can turn ‘waste’ into something beautiful, also known as turning ‘trash into treasure’. Through different textile techniques such as screen printing, digital printing, laser cutting, hand embroidery, bleaching and dyeing (to name a few), I aim to use old denim and re-imagine the potential of this. There will be no waste in my design or printing process – this is something really important to me.
My inspiration for this came after realising that over 10,000 litres of water goes into one pair of denim jeans. Within fast fashion, there are constant new trends with a lot of brands producing many collections per year. Our over-consumerist culture has meant there is simply too much waste within our society and generation. Due to many of our generation being on social media, many young adults want to keep up with fast fashion trends, therefore buying into the fast fashion model. I want my project to project the idea of slowing these collections down. I aim for my designs to be versatile, long lasting and durable that can be worn throughout the year, in any season.

How do you keep yourself motivated/inspired?

I find a lot of inspiration through travelling and seeing new places – I always have a camera in my hand and I find so much joy in photography. I grew up in Yorkshire, which has always been a source of inspiration. I have always loved the outdoors, which has massively inspired me. I love the outdoors and taking frequent breaks to go on walks, hikes or bike rides always keeps me motivated.
Creativity runs in my family, so I have always been inspired by the people around me. I remember aged around 7 was the first time I got a sketchbook & I designed my own fashion illustrations & garments. Since then, I have been so passionate about creativity and always wanted to learn more. I love using my creative eye in the world to capture moments, landscapes, people and places. Alongside my design work, I also run my own small photography business – shooting couples, weddings, families, events and conferences.
I also get a lot of inspiration from trend forecasters – mainly WGSN. This platform allows me to see what is on trend and equally, what will be in trend in the future. Trends are so important and really valuable during my design research process when thinking about colour and ideas. Furthermore, I also find social media very positively inspiring, as creatives are constantly posting their designs, ideas & collaborations. The advancements in technology mean that as designers, we can share and promote our ideas. Social media also gives us a platform to create incredible connections, for now and the future.

How did you come across West Yorkshire Print Workshop?

I came across West Yorkshire Print Workshop actually during lockdown – my experience there so far has been absolutely brilliant. I found out about WYPW due to me staying at home and working remotely in semester 1 of my final year due to COVID-19. I really wanted to continue printing, so I started researching and found the facilities great at WYPW. This led to me enquiring and getting an induction there. Even in the height of lockdown 2.0, the staff have been so friendly and helpful – I have still been able to take my screens to get my designs exposed and I have set up my own ‘at home print workshop’! When the going gets tough, the tough gets going – there is always a solution to every problem. I knew I wanted to keep printing, so I decided to make my own print bed in my garage. However, I’m very excited to get back into WYPW to print there as I found the environment really inspirational. The technicians there are also really helpful and it was great having like-minded creatives around.