Thomas Costello is London based designer originally from the North West who specialises in three-dimensional embroidery and surface design. He works freelance in embroidery and is currently finishing an MA at the Royal College of Art
Tell me about the textiles you work with?
I tend to be drawn to producing more hand rendered textiles at the minute, with beading and hand embellishment – but I also enjoy other areas such as fabric manipulation and digital embroidery. So for me it’s about finding a balance between all techniques.
What other kinds would you like to try?
I still have never learned how to tambour bead! And I would also like to try macramé more.
How do you start a new piece of work?
I always start with the concept, it’s the most important part of my work and I find it’s hard for me to start a new piece until I have that.
Where do you get your supplies from?
Everywhere from little craft shops to more established embroidery shops and haberdasheries in and around London. Also online.
How do you think people perceive textiles?
I think people often perceive textiles as a whole, and maybe not as a range of specialisms. For example the full, breadth of industries within textiles such as fashion, interiors, vehicle design, textiles within art, textiles technology etc.
How do you feel about being a guy in textiles?
It’s quite common to find fewer guys both studying textiles and working in industry, especially in the area I specialize in. I did a project centered around stereotypes during my BA and used the fact I was the only male in the embroidery specialism at LCF as a light-hearted approach to comment on gender stereotypes – so it’s something that has actually inspired my work and something I am able to make fun of!
What’s your day job, do you work in textiles full time?
Yes at the minute I work as a freelance embroiderer whilst also coming to the end of my MA at the Royal College of Art.
How do you feel about promoting your work on social media? Do you ever feel nervous or worried people won’t like it?
I don’t think I strive to make textiles that everyone will like; my most recent series of embroideries were centered on taste and how people decipher ‘bad taste’ through the connotations of certain fabrics. So how people view my work is something I try to have fun with. But of course it’s great when the response is positive! I also think that when I post images of my work on social media, it’s more just for me to share what I’ve been working on. I don’t really see it as promoting myself even though through sharing, I guess I am promoting it also.
Lastly what do you love about textiles?
I enjoy the thinking equally as much as the making. The conceptual side to my work is important and the thing I enjoy the most. Talking of concept can often sound quite serious, but my inspiration is usually something quite light-hearted. I use textiles as a vehicle to explore and learn about topics I am interested in, and the information I find can then be interpreted through stitch and embroidery to produce new textiles. I aim to make textiles with a strong aesthetic that is communicative of something – usually an element of social commentary but with a light-hearted approach.
You can follow Tom on Instagram here