In addition to his visual art and design practice, Alex Russell also works on books and writing projects. Details of some of his text-based outputs are below.
If you’d like to talk to Alex about a book project, or commission some writing from him, please get in touch. He’s particularly interested in collaborative work, generative projects and writing that spans scientific and artistic practice.
The Fundamentals of Printed Textile Design
The second edition of “The Fundamentals of Printed Textile Design”, Alex Russell’s book is now in production. Published by Bloomsbury, it will be available on 7 October 2021. You can pre-order it from Waterstones as well as Amazon. The cover was designed by Katrina McLaughlin.
The book is about contemporary practice in printed textile and surface pattern design. It explores creative and commercial studio practice, looking at the skills needed for a career in design. Alex’s book focusses on the contexts of print and pattern design. Firstly, it examines how history and technology have shaped the field. Secondly, it explains how to balance innovation with industry requirements, including fashion, home interiors, giftware and stationery. Thirdly, there’s practical advice on developing a professional portfolio and the good communication skills needed to get work noticed.
Overall, the new edition has been completely updated. It includes expanded sections on digital design and social media, and their impact on portfolio development, manufacturing, and promotion, as well as advice on establishing an ethical, sustainable practice for the future. In addition,”The Fundamentals of Printed Textile Design” features the work of a selection of some of the most talented established and emerging creatives.
‘A comprehensive introduction to the aesthetic, technical and procedural considerations that every entry-level repeat pattern designer needs to understand. Generously illustrated with an entirely new collection of designs by professionals and students alike, it concisely documents the requirements and rewards of this exciting design industry specialization.’
Michael James, M.F.A., Professor Emeritus and Chair Emeritus, Department Of Textiles, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, USA
The first edition is also available in French and Spanish.
Tricotype Generative interview
In 2019, Sam Meech and Jonathan Hitchen commissioned Alex to write a piece about their Tricotype project.
Tricotype offers workshops for participants to explore the design of letterforms within the space of machine knitting punch-cards. In the sessions, participants get a letterform (A-Z), foreground and background colours (from a palette of six) and a wild card (a type or textile related word they could use as a starting point). The participants sketch their design ideas in pencil on a grid, then punch it onto a punch-card, before finally knitting the pattern as a textile sample on a domestic knitting machine.
In response to the commission, Alex created a generative interview.
The text was developed using a restrictive system that echoed the Tricotype project. Each part was a response to a single word trigger. The triggers were keywords that collectively provided the opportunity for Sam and Hitch to discuss the project as a whole. These were decided in advance and put in a computer programme that outputted them as a list in random order. An audio recording of Sam and Hitch’s responses to the list was edited into discrete sections to form the text.
From time to time, Alex’s books and writing projects involve authoring articles on LinkedIn. In general, these are longer than his post on the news page. Overall, they focus on a particular aspect of his work, generally with a slightly humorous or self-depreciative angle.
Here’s a list with links:
To get quality, forget quality: Genuary 2021 (May 2021)
Literally writing a book: The Fundamentals of Printed Textile Design (Feb 2021)
During his time as a lecturer, Alex wrote a number of research papers. By and large, these were about his generative approach to creating pattern. For instance, papers listed below cover his Repeatless project, the forerunner to ApeiorPattern. All have links to freely available PDF downloads of the papers Alex presented.
Innovation: 8th MMU Postgraduate Research Conference, Manchester (UK). Links: the abstract, the paper.
Shapeshifting: A Conference on Transformative Paradigms of Fashion and Textile, Auckland (NZ). Links: the abstract, the paper.
Transition: Re-thinking Textiles and Surfaces, Huddersfield (UK). Links: the abstract, the paper.
1st International Conference on Digital Technologies for the Textile Industries, Manchester (UK). Links: the abstract, the paper.