To make it in the design industry, a master’s can be a very useful thing to have on your CV, but when graphic design graduate Stacie Woolsey was contemplating embarking on her own in 2018, she was shocked to discover that it was likely to set her back around £40,000. This is, obviously, quite a hefty privilege barrier to overcome if you’re at the front end of a design career, but Stacie found a way to overcome it. Reaching out to established designers she admired, she asked each one to set a brief for her to complete over the next 18 months – a programme of self-directed study that gave her all the learning of a master’s qualification, plus practical industry experience, without the prohibitive price tag of a formal institution. Joining our Makes with a Mission programme she was able to culminate her studies culminate in a solo show at Somerset House in 2019.
Since then, Stacie has scaled up. Make Your Own Masters is now an agile and inclusive learning system that gives anyone, from any background, who feels obstructed from a creative career, the tools to independently design their own industry education – including access to workspace, mentorship and design briefs. For many people from disadvantaged backgrounds, an MA is one of the only viable routes into the creative industries, and yet there is still a seemingly insurmountable barrier to overcome in order to access MA programmes. Make Your Own Masters aims to bridge that gap.
I would describe myself as an aspiring mechanical garment designer with a passion for merging the worlds of art and engineering. My artistic journey began at Central Saint Martins, where I graduated from Performance Design and Practice in 2020 and was subsequently awarded the Mead Final Project award for a mechanical garment. This award gave me funding to complete my first garment using microprocessors.
My passion for merging engineering and art started whilst working on a project for the British Museum’s Manga Exhibit in 2019, in which we were tasked with creating a garment inspired by Manga. Under the mentorship of Kansai Yamamoto, my collaborator and I merged our performance and fashion background creating a garment that changed and evolved. The show was attended by 1000s of people with one of them being Grayson Perry. Yamamoto expressed that our design was his favourite of the show!
After a transformative mentorship at Google Creative Labs guided me to Make Your Own Masters. My Mentorship at Google not only introduced me to this amazing alternative education system but also opened my eyes to how I could work with a company like Google, something I never thought would be an option for me.
I have since worked as a Graduate Teaching Assistant and Visiting Practitioner at Central Saint Martins: Project Manager in a Social Enterprise that tackles the lack of coding and art education and as a Social Media Manager in a production house for theatre and film. I would also describe myself as a costume designer, stylist and performance consultant having designed for esteemed companies like Imitating the Dog International to stylising for figures like Bethany Mooney for Stella Mccartney and The Pappyshow. Performing consulting for Imitating the Dog x Maison Margiela.
Before discovering Make Your Own Masters and Makerversity, I found myself in a challenging and stagnant situation. The ideas I wished to create were not time efficient due to the lack of availability of technical knowledge.
After nurturing my skill set to the best of my abilities, I recognised a gap where I had reached a point where I required expert guidance to achieve professional standard outcomes. Which I need to achieve to create reliable , time-efficient and marketable products. However I faced financial constraints that made traditional educational courses unfeasible.
Make Your Own Masters and Makerversity came to my rescue, propelling me forward in remarkable ways. Beyond providing access to expensive equipment, they introduced me to a community of incredibly talented and knowledgeable individuals willing to offer their support. Through this community, I not only overcame my initial challenges but also gained the confidence to tackle future hurdles independently. In just a few months, Makerversity significantly enhanced my knowledge and refined my working methods.
While I recognise that there is still much to learn, especially in areas like 3D printing and engineering, Makerversity has equipped me with a structured approach to continue my learning. Now, I can focus on creating meaningful outcomes and strengthening my portfolio.
The exposure to innovative startups and independent artists at Makerversity has been incredibly inspiring, pushing me to think bigger and envision the possibility of launching my own startup. Moreover, it keeps me informed about local exhibitions, provides a workspace outside my bedroom, and grants me access to open calls that I might otherwise have missed. This newfound support network has reinvigorated my creative journey and opened doors to new opportunities I had never imagined.
Still from a scene based around body hair from the Hysterical Circus Series. Co-directed and co-created with Stacey Stacey. DOP Mero Kazemi. Performed by The Creature Fleur.
I'm currently involved in three distinct projects:
My favourite aspect of Makerversity is undoubtedly the people. The support and expertise of the staff/members have significantly accelerated my learning, helping me resolve long-standing challenges in just a few conversations. Additionally, being part of a vibrant, like-minded creative community has been particularly valuable to me, especially after many of my peers relocated following my graduation during the pandemic.
Stills from a scene based female pleasure from the Hysterical Circus Series. Co-directed and co-created with Stacey Stacey and Poppy Sheppard. DOP Mero Kazemi.
My immediate ambition is to continue my learning in the engineering world.
Whilst undergoing this, I wish to bring my vision to life by creating garments that captivate audiences. I aim to showcase my garments in interactive ways, making them an integral part of performances and other creative expressions. My goal is to see these pieces featured in magazines and establish collaborations with designers and stylists.
Ultimately, I aim for celebrities to wear my garments to prestigious events like the Met Gala.
I believe that my passion for engineering in design can extend beyond fashion, and I am open to exploring collaborations or even the possibility of joining a tech start-up or company. I am also interested in venturing into entrepreneurship and establishing my own business.