Leanne Claxton

Originally from the North of England, I graduated from Central Saint Martins in June 2006 and was offered a full-time job as an assistant print/embroidery designer for Next in Hong Kong.

For the last two years I have been based in Hong Kong working freelance because it gives you the diversity to work across all areas. Projects I have done include embroidered trainers for Gola by Christian Lacroix, perfume-packaging for Avon by Christian Lacroix, prints for Christian Lacroix prÍt-a-porter. I have worked with suppliers to Mango, Zara, Massimo Dutti, M&S, Guess, Calvin Klein and Bonton. 

I now do projects with Tesco and Disney for apparel and home textiles. Alongside commissioned work from clients, I produce and sell my own print and embroidery collections. I am in the process of setting up my own print studio here in Hong Kong.

Why did you decide to study at Central Saint Martins?

From being a young girl I knew I wanted to study an art-related subject and move to London. Central Saint Martins has such an amazing reputation and impressive list of talented and now famous ex-students, I thought it was the best art college to go to.

What was the best bit about living and studying in London?

Being in the heart of London everyday at Central Saint Martins is a fantastic place to be. There is so much creativity in London, which is what I enjoyed most about my time there. There are so many exhibitions and creative places to go and see.

Most important of all is being surrounded by all the opportunities for work experience with all the designers and studios being based in London.

What top tips would you give to students who are beginning their studies?

Central Saint Martins has so much to offer and I would say don't be intimidated and go for it. There are so many contacts and opportunities to grab hold of.

I think the best advice I could ever give is take a year out and work in the industry. I worked for Christian Lacroix on my placement year and I learned so much before my final year at Central Saint Martins - it was the best experience I have ever had.

And for students about to graduate?

Take any opportunity that comes your way, you never know where you may end up. Be brave and do what you love and you will always find somebody who will want you to work for them or with them on a project. Don't give up.

What are you up to now? How did you get there?

After graduation I was offered a job right away at Next in Hong Kong through a contact from my ex-tutor at Central Saint Martins. I never looked back even though it was a scary move for me. After Next I moved to Esprit in Hong Kong and worked in Germany for a while. Then I decided to work freelance to be more creative.

I worked in Paris again for Lacroix 'in-house' freelance, covering a maternity leave. After Lacroix I moved back to Hong Kong and now I have clients including Tesco, Disney, Global Sourcing, Mast, and more who I work on projects for on a regular basis.

I also work with factories in China to produce my own print and embroidered fabric collections. I am in the process of setting up my own print studio in Hong Kong.

How has Central Saint Martins helped in your chosen career path?

If I had not have studied at Central Saint Martins I would not have got my first job at Next, here in Hong Kong. Nearly every company I have worked for has at least one ex-Central Saint Martins student working there.

Working freelance allows me to work for many companies and meet many designers. Mostly I find new contacts and jobs from my network of ex-Central Saint Martins friends or ex-Central Saint Martins colleagues.