Florence Angelica Colson graduated with First Class BA Hons from the BA (Hons) Printed Textiles & Surface Design course in 2014.

During her degree Florence won several national and international awards, including the Lululemon Texprint Award, which led to a commission to design the Lululemon Specialized Cycling kit for the Women’s 2014 World Champion Cyclists.  Florence returned to Leeds Arts University as a Creative in Residence in 2014.   

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Image: Florence’s kit for the Velocio Sports Lululemon X Specialized world champion cycling team 2014.

We caught up with Florence to find out more about her time at the University, where she draws her inspiration and her plans for the future…..

You studied Printed Textiles & Surface Pattern Design at the University, what were the key things you took away from the course?

I loved every minute of the course, even all the long days and late nights I put myself through! The atmosphere in the brilliant studio is great, a constant flow of creative support both from the tutors and fellow students and all the varying work you are surrounded by; it really is inspiring! My work developed a lot throughout the course, I really cemented a style and a design process, the hand drawn/ painted approach I love was encouraged which was lovely. I also developed a strong work ethic, staying up all hours because I loved what I was doing and was determined to produce results I was proud of - you get out what you put in after all! I am proud to have attended the University and course. Duncan & all the staff on the course are all one in a million!

How did your time as a Creative in Residence (CIR) at the University help you after graduating from your course?

It was great having the opportunity to get back into that studio, having a space of my own and use of facilities was amazing! After a year or so of internships and working freelance from home it was amazing to be surrounded by a ‘mass’ of creative minds again. It was generally just helpful to have support and voice ideas with the students, tutors and CIR group. I also had the opportunity to take a collection of alumni’s work to a tradeshow in Eindhoven over Dutch design week and worked as a part-time tutor with first year, which were great professional experiences.

What acts as your inspiration for your designs?

I am very inspired by the design style of the Baroque period and Victorian Ornament; the exaggerated detail is dramatic and exuberant and was a catalyst to the way I draw. Also a huge inspiration is the Arts and Crafts movement, architecture of the period created by Augustus Pugin is amazing, and William Morris remains one of my favourite designers. I also take inspiration from flowers and botanical drawing. From all of these elements the most inspiring point to me is the crafting of the work and the intricacy, I meticulously build hand drawn imagery and gouache paintings that celebrate the complexity of the period’s aesthetics that are seen as classically beautiful. 

You won the Texprint Lululemon Award in 2013 at Indigo, how did it feel to win and how has this helped you in your career?

Winning this award has been a vital point in my career, to be chosen as a winner of the award by a company that is expanding internationally everyday was, and still is, amazing. It started the relationship between Lululemon and I that has given me the opportunity to work for them now. The award firstly led to me meeting the design team at Indigo [Exhibition in Paris] and being asked to design the engineered artwork for the kits for the 2014 women’s VelocioSports Lululemon X Specialized world champion cycling team. My drawings featured on the full kit, the bikes and helmets. It was amazing to see my designs for sale internationally and worn in high profile races around the world; hearing directly from the team that they loved the kit was a proud moment! I also interned for Lululemon for 3 months in early 2014 as part of the award, partly from the UK and partly in Vancouver (due to visa complications), which was a great experience.

You are now working at LuluLemon Atheletica in Vancouver, can you tell us how this came about and about the experience of applying for a position internationally?

After a couple of freelance projects with Lululemon over the years since winning the award, I am now working for them full time. I actually move to Vancouver next month, as I had to start working from here until my Visa was approved. Getting this visa has been somewhat up in the air since I was preliminary offered the chance of a job after my internship. Sadly this attempt barely got out of the starting blocks but I kept in touch with LuluLemon and almost 2 years later, I was offered a position again as a Womens Print & Graphics designer and they have managed to get me over there. Getting a visa to work internationally in places like Canada is difficult because you have to have a company ‘sponsoring’ you and they have to prove that they can't find another candidate who can do what you do, who already has citizenship! However, if a company really wants you, they can make it happen. Coming from brilliant British training at recognised institutes like Leeds Arts University on courses such as Printed Textiles & Surface Pattern Design can work in your favour!

What next?

I am currently trying to prepare myself for the big ‘permanent’ move to Vancouver, alongside working as a print & graphics designer for Lululemon. When I get there I will start the exciting experience of working full-time in the studio at the headquarters! I will also continue to develop my own designs as I hope to develop my own range of products under my own name.

To see Florence’s work visit her website or on Instagram @florenceangelica