Natalie’s art is creating a buzz

Natalie Ratcliffe with her print designs

Natalie Ratcliffe with her print designs

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A Fylde coast designer has been drawing on all her skills to scoop two top national awards.

Natalie Ratcliffe, from South Shore, recently graduated with a first class honours degree in printed textiles and surface pattern design from Leeds College of Art.

And now she has been awarded both the New Designers John Lewis Award for Design Excellence and Innovation and the New Designers Wilkinson Award for Commercial Surface Design, when she exhibited her work at the New Designers 2013 Exhibition in London.

The former Arnold School pupil’s wild flower prints scooped her a £1,000 prize and impressed the judges, who described them as “a stand-out collection, great composition and scale, directional approach to colour.

“It strikes the balance of making a real statement and having commercial appeal.”

Natalie, who specialises in surface pattern design for wallpaper, home ware and furnishings, says she often finds inspiration in nature.

Her design work combines traditional print-making techniques with contemporary practices such as computer-aided design.

The 24-year-old said: “I have been creative from a young age.

“I love having the freedom of taking an idea and being able to develop it into a final piece or collection.

“My graduate collection Paper Bouquet was based on woodland flowers and I really enjoyed researching all about the language of flowers, their traditional meanings and insignificance in both every day life and decorative design.

“I also really like researching and learning from other practising designers and artists.

“The New Designers exhibition was a fantastic opportunity to showcase my graduate portfolio to leading industry creatives. Winning the award was overwhelming and allowed me to gain some really great contacts.

“I have long admired John Lewis as a company which champions emerging design, so to have their recognition was a great honour.

“The Wilkinson award for commercial surface design provides a fantastic opportunity to work within their trend team in a placement next month. Experience like this is invaluable within the industry, I can’t wait.

“I am currently working on a freelance basis which is great, as it allows me the opportunity to work on a variety of different projects.

“I’ve been working on everything from interior furnishing fabrics to private commissions for wedding stationary.

“I dream of one day setting up my own studio.”