Steph Thomas - Printed and Constructed Textiles FdA

Steph's story

Steph Thomas is a Printed and Constructed Textiles FdA graduate and BA (Hons) Creative Enterprise (Top Up) student. She changed careers from working as a chef, to following her passion in art and design, to now work as a homeware and upholstery designer. View Steph's designs on her Instagram page.

Clearing places are still available to study this September, apply now.

Tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’ve just finished my final year doing the Printed and Constructed Textiles FdA and I plan to progress on to the BA (Hons) Creative Enterprise (Top Up) in September. I used to be a chef and have changed career. I love to learn new things and gain skills. I like hands-on things like cooking, upholstery, illustration – all things design!

Why did you choose Newcastle College?
I’d studied design at Newcastle College after completing school and loved it. I’d dropped out and moved into a different career for practicality but always missed the design. It took me a long time to like education, as when I was younger I didn’t have the support to progress. Art and design was always my passion. My kids actually think I can do anything because I’m always making things. I want them to always feel hope and inspiration growing up, and I feel like I'm setting an example to them by following my dreams.

Why did you choose Newcastle College?

I actually started out on the Art and Design Level 3 course and progressed to the degree from there. I loved Newcastle College as it was so flexible. I’d went to Newcastle University to study History previously and I much prefer the College atmosphere by comparison. Universities feel pressurised for me and as an older student I just didn’t feel like I could fit in or adapt studying to be flexible around my life. There’s a good mix of people here and a lot of people in similar situations to me, so I feel at home. It just feels so much more laid back and approachable.

This is the best thing I’ve ever done! I don’t want to leave, I just want to continue on with my studies. I’m even trying to get all of my friends and family on a course here, it’s been such a positive experience.

What did you enjoy most about your course?

Not being put in a box. The tutors never forced their own style on us, we could decide what we wanted to do. They offered advice and helped us build skills, but they allowed us to be us and encouraged us to find our own voice.

Why did you choose Printed and Constructed Textiles?

My art and design tutor Adeline recommended I do this course. She’d recognised that I had a passion textiles as I was always adapting my artwork for fabric and homeware. She recommended the degree and guided me towards this direction.

Have you had an opportunity to undertake placement?

In February I worked with Hallmark in Bradford. It was amazing and a brilliant opportunity. I found that in my time there I learnt a lot from the designers but also from the other students on placement. 

How have the facilities helped you learn?

There’s an abundance of facilities, screen printing digital printing, litho, transfer, lino etc We’ve got access to a lot of pathways in textiles design and you do have an opportunity to gain a lot of skills. We also work with other creative students like photography students and the design students where we design print for furniture and fashion.

Has the course prepared you for employment?

They’ve gave us an opportunity to work on live briefs with industry, as well as invited guest lectures from industry in to talk to us, that included esteemed designers and editors like Davinder Madaher, Alice Gainsford, Laursa Moscroff Alice Csato and Lisa Robson. We get to have an external opinion and our work which I think is really special and I really value that opinion.

How would you describe the staff at Newcastle College?

Laid back and very easy to get in touch with. Steve and Steph in the studio are incredible, and they can help you with anything. There’s loads of students and work and they’re always helpful and supportive.

What advice would you give your 16 year old self?

Keep going, don’t stop. It was very easy to give up but I’ve learnt you have to keep going and follow your passions.


Study Printed and Constructed Textiles FdA this September.