We all reach turning points in our textile careers.  I know I certainly have.

Workshops and classes are fantastic vehicles for learning, but sometimes we need more.

And the anomaly is, that could be the one thing holding us back in the first place.  So what’s the solution?

Ask for help.

In the beginning, I have to admit to feeling awkward and uncomfortable doing just that – but the driving force for me was wanting to become better.  I now rationalise my need as paying for a service – just like I pay to do a workshop, and I’m more than happy to do that.

Several years ago now I signed up for an online workshop.  For those with tech skills, it was fantastic.  There was great content, it was well presented and it really motivated me towards an end goal.  But I struggled because of tech.

It held me back in many ways, not just for that course, but also in submitting competition and exhibition opportunities online, paying online, sharing online – you name it.

And that wasn’t the only area I knew I was struggling with.  Good images are a necessity for any textile or fibre artist.  I can take OK images on my phone, but submissions to prestigious exhibitions require top-quality images to even be considered.

And would you believe, one of the suggestions made, all that time ago in that long-ago online course, was what I eventually found to be the only avenue to advance – ask someone for help.

We happily pay an Accountant to help us with our tax, or a mechanic to fix our car, so I now have no hesitation asking for help in areas where I know I have a weakness – and I’m more than willing to pay.  I’ve learnt.

It’s taken me a few goes though.  It’s not like the network’s there and ready to go.  We have to set up our own – from scratch.  That’s where the push has to come from me to take control, to find a solution to ensure I get the results I want.  And that takes time along with a few hits and misses.

I now rely on a great photographer who lives locally – that’s a consideration for me as I don’t want to be travelling all over the city.  I also have brilliant tech support – someone who also has some knowledge of the Australian textile industry.  That’s a huge benefit to me.  And they’re both beautiful, happy people I’ve come to know and regard as friends over the years.

Better still is our network of friends and colleagues.  And just recently I reached out to a fellow Australian Textile Artist, who over the course of a Zoom conversation, offered advice and helpful suggestions.  That was a pretty special thing to do, and greatly appreciated.

Now, even I can see the results – but the initiative and the realisation that I needed help, had to come from me.  So did finding the right people to give that help.

Be persistent and discontented until you find what works for you.

cathy jack coupland