This week we have the milliner, John Westwood-Hill, who is going to give us an insight into his work and sketchbooks.
Tell us a little about yourself/how did you get into art/craft/design career and how it all started and where you are now
I have always wanted to be a fashion designer but my parents didnt think it was a suitable career and convinced me to do catering instead. 10 years later, working in catering and offices, I was being made redundant days before my civil partnership. To cut costs, I decided to make the wedding headwear for the mothers and the bridesmaids. I got many compliments so I decided to enrol on a HNC Millinery course at Leeds College of Art under the tutorship of Sharon Bainbridge. I graduated with a Distinction and have been working part time and running my own millinery business since.
How long have you been using sketchbooks?
Only for a couple of years, since starting my course.
How often do you sketch?
Usually a few times a week. If I am designing a collection which I am now, I sketch more often to play with shapes and ideas.
How do you feel about the prospect of starting a new sketchbook?
It can be daunting. All those crisp white pages which are desperate for some colour is a little off putting, but once I have drawn the first head, I'm on a roll.
When/where do you get your inspiration for your sketchbook pages?
My sketchbooks are with me in my bag just in case, so if I am inspired I jot down my designs. I could be anywhere. Everything inspires me, which can be frustrating.
How would you describe your creative process?
Just do it. Something may pop into my head, so I'll try to draw it. Sometimes it may be a line, or a curve which then forms the basis of a hat.
Have your sketchbooks evolved over the years and if so, how?
They have indeed. My first sketchbooks were neat and tidy, with perfect lines, and all colours within the lines. Now I don't care as much. I used to design one hat per page, now i fill my pages with hats, or trimmings, or pictures, whatever I am drawing inspiration from .
What is your favourite medium to work with?
Without a doubt, a pencil and a set of sharpie pens.
Do you have a favourite sketchbook?
My old college sketchbook which was the basis of my final collection. It was when I finally developed my signature drawing style, and have been using it since.
If you had to pick one favourite page which would it be and why?
That's a tough one. My current work is probably my most favourite. But each work is better than the last. But my most favourite page has to be the one I sent to a comedienne I love asking her if I could work with her. She said yes and I ended up meeting her and making her a headpiece. Sadly, she didn't wear it for her show, but the experience of working with her was amazing.
A bit thanks to John for agreeing to have his sketchbook pages and his gorgeous millinery featured on the blog. It's definitely a first. If you want to find out more about John you can check out his website here. You can also follow him on Facebook here, he is on Twitter here, and you can sign up for his newsletter here