Career as a wallpaper designer

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Sophie Morgan is a designer with Zoffany – a world famous company that designs wallpaper, printed fabrics, trimmings, paints and furniture. Her designs go on show in London, New York and Rome, and many interior designers stock the range in their shops.

What are the steps to creating a new design?

A new design can take anything from six months to a year to progress from initial ideas to producing the rolls of wallpaper. The first stage involves research and meetings to discuss what sort of designs we want to produce.We also look at how previous collections have been received and keep a close eye on trends.

Zoffany's wallpapers are often based on traditional patterns from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. We spend a lot of time researching in the pattern archives.

How do you take an idea to the next stage?

I begin to create layouts of the pattern – either using a special textile design programme on the computer, or by hand using pencils, pens and paint. Once the design is agreed, I brief the engravers who create the printing rollers.

Do you get involved in production?

Yes.We go to the factory while the paper is being printed. Colours and designs have to be exact, so people bring me the samples as they're printed and I check them and make any adjustments.

I also produce the pattern books which contain samples of paper and fabrics. This means using graphic design to create the overall look and the page layout, organising photoshoots of the collection and laying out technical information and descriptions.

Where do you work?

I work in the studio in Leeds, in a team of five and we work a normal 36-hour week. I design wallpaper and fabrics, and I also design and put together the pattern books that show our collections.We launch collections twice a year at the Chelsea Design weeks in March and September.

What skills do you need to be a wallpaper designer?

It is absolutely essential to have an eye for detail. You also need a real love of colour and design.

Sophie's route to becoming a wallpaper designer

  • Foundation course in art and design.
  • Degree in industrial design (textiles).
  • Worked as a designer for an accessories company.
  • Joined Zoffany four years ago.

Sophie's tips

  • Design isn't just about what you want to create – you have to listen to other people's ideas and use your creativity to come up with something that customers want.
  • Keep your file of work examples upto-date.

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Wallpaper designer salary information

  • If you work for a company, you might start between £10,000 and £18,000, rising to £25,000 with experience.
  • Freelance designers may charge per design or collection and rates vary enormously.
  • Agents take a commission of up to 40 per cent

Career as a wallpaper designer

  • Most designers have a degree or HND in an art or design subject. Many start with a foundation course to help them choose their specialism.
  • There is a huge range of design courses at colleges and universities and most will want to see a portfolio of work.
  • There are also full and part-time City & Guilds and NVQ/SVQ courses in textile design subjects

Modified: 16 June 2013

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