Frankly, The Folksy Magazine

Meet the Maker – I Am Ami

by Emily. Average Reading Time: about 8 minutes.


How long have you been selling on Folksy?

I set up i am ami on Folksy in March 2012 so my little online shop is brand spanking new.However although new to Folksy, I have been designing and making for a lot longer. If you ask my mum I have been making one thing or another since I was very little but more professionally since graduating from uni in 2009. Please do come visit and have a little look around!

Tell us about your work?

I absolutely love screen-printing! I studied Contemporary Applied Arts at University, and it is there where I developed my real passion for it. The excitement of testing out new screens and experimenting with building up layers of designs, patterns and colour is exhilarating. A day in the print studio feels very much like home.

Hidden Faces card £2.50
Hidden Faces card £2.50

My collection ‘Hidden Faces’, which consists of hand printed cards and t-shirts is a series of illustrations that I developed from randomly doodling different ladies and their hairstyles! I then sketched flowers based on those in my mum’s garden at the time and combined them together. It was the idea of being hidden amongst flowers, almost like being hidden within a secret garden that appealed to me.

What’s your favourite piece of work?

My favourite piece of work is the Tank Top entitled ‘Mint flower girl’. I made one for myself that is very similar but in a different colour and I wear it all the time. It is a great relaxed fit so is both comfy and links in with this season’s bright pastel colours and of course is totally unique!

Mint Flower Girl tank £18
Mint Flower Girl tank £18

When did it all begin for you?

I studied printed textiles and embroidery at Cumbria Institute of the Arts. During my final year I developed an interest in creating pieces for the body so after graduating I went straight on to do an MA in Fashion Bodywear at De Montfort University.

My final MA collection called ‘Plastic Analogue’ consisted of hand cut plastic armour like garments and quirky colourful digital printed bodywear, which upon graduating received a lot of press attention and was featured in magazines such as Italian Vogue and Interview Magazine as well as lots of fashion blogs.

Amy Thompson design
Amy Thompson design

Since graduating I have also had the amazing opportunity to design a custom made outfit for Fergie from the Black Eyed Peas which she wore on stage during performances of their ‘E.N.D’ World Tour in 2010. I was also commissioned by German-American Fashion House Talbot Runhof to produce plastic garments and accessories to compliment their AW10 collection, which I had the pleasure of seeing feature on the catwalk at Paris fashion week!

Amy's custom design for Fergie of The Black Eyed Peas
Amy's custom design for Fergie of The Black Eyed Peas

My MA collection can be seen on my website here.

Despite having had some success in the high fashion world with my futuristic designs…I still love the process of creating hand screen printed pieces and so wanted to create an outlet where I can sell my products. You’ll notice the spelling of Amy is spelt different to my shop name ‘i am Ami’ here on Folksy. I wanted to do this, as the types of garments I create can be quite different in style and so I wanted to differentiate between them with a different brand name.

Layered Faces £16
Layered Faces £16

The designs I create via i am Ami stem from my desire to create prints that are still unique and true to my design personality but are more accessible to a wider audience and that I am able to sell at an affordable price. It also allows me to get back to my roots and continue with my first love of screen-printing and the creative freedom I feel when I am in that print studio!

Tell us about your work space? Favourite place to work?

When designing I work from my flat where I have a room dedicated to developing my ideas with all my materials, inspiration and collected bits and bobs close at hand. It can get very chaotic in there!!! My creative mess tends to have a habit of spreading around the flat…much to my husband’s despair!! So sometimes I have to move about to wherever there is a free surface space! I just have too many ideas to be able to remain tidy! For all the actual screen-printing I go to a print studio to do it, as I do not have all the necessary tools to do this from home.

Amy's designs

How do you keep your work unique?

I hate the thought of someone saying that my designs are like someone else’s, so I try to think outside the box when designing. I like to pick random topics to work on to push myself to be more conceptual and therefore more unique. But this only works if you are actually inspired by the theme. Experimenting is a big part of my design process too and I find it can help shape a design in a way that you would never have expected or thought of otherwise. I think this always adds an element of uniqueness!

Describe your day as a maker? Are you organised/disciplined?

I currently work on all my creative ventures part time. This can sometimes be hard when your creative time is disjointed, and so being more disciplined is an ongoing process. I am better when I have a deadline to work to, as then I become a non-stop monster machine stuck on ‘GO’. Otherwise, without a specified goal I can sometimes get a little distracted with thoughts of eating big slices of cake…

However I find making lists is a great way of setting manageable tasks for the day and so generally start off with this. Ticking them off later when complete is just so satisfying!

What three tools could you not live without?

I could not live without my pencil, Photoshop or my camera. When designing prints I like to start off with a pencil at the ready to sketch/doodle my ideas…this then leads to working on them further in Photoshop on my computer. I love the way I can easily manipulate/ re-size, merge elements to the exact composition I want and then be able to work on alternative designs without having to re-draw it all again manually!

My camera is my faithful friend in capturing those shots of inspiration that I just happen to stumble across and am not able to put in my pocket to bring back home with me, such as the textures and colours of a decaying door or the tangled lines of a telegraph pole. This way my memories are recorded and even if I don’t use it straight away I know I can re-look at it at a later date and be inspired all over again!

Amy's screen printed fabrics
Amy's screen printed fabrics

What gets the creative juices flowing when creativity is stifled?

I like to get everything out in front of me, pictures, materials, colours, bits and bobs that are inspiring me. Then I have a good brainstorm, writing down all the initial ideas that are in my head. Or sometimes just getting out all my paints, inks, bits of coloured/ patterned paper and having fun creating a collage or experimenting with shape and colour helps to get me back into the flow of things without putting the pressure on myself of having to create something amazing!

Are you inspired by any artists from the past or present?

Yes, I love looking at the work of new designers…as I find it encouraging to think if they are doing it. So can I. I also like looking at designers’ work from different disciplines and backgrounds. I particularly love the work of young fashion designers, Una Burke, Holly Fulton and Mary Katrantzou. All three really push the boundaries of fashion/print to another level!

Mary Katrantzou
Mary Katrantzou

How do you know when a piece is done?

Tricky. But I usually judge it by the composition of a piece…if I like the way a print design is flowing I tend to stop. However when I’m working on a design on the computer I will save it and then go on to make multiple copies of the same image trying out various other slight alterations, compositions until my love of experimentation is satisfied and I’ve tried out all my ideas. Bit of a long way around it, but sometimes you come out with even better results. I know then that I have the best possible outcome that I am totally happy with.

What do you love most about being a maker?

The satisfaction of having made something so unique that is your very own design turned into a reality.

Flower Girl card £2.50
Flower Girl card £2.50

Where would you like to be in 5 years time?

I would love to have my own successful business that is able to support me financially too or working for a fabulous contemporary company as a print designer.

What would you say to any makers starting out?

Try to be unique and get your work out there!!!…That’s when all the opportunities will start coming your way!

Amy’s designs can be found in her Folksy shop i am ami