Task 13: Primary Research and Methods

  1. Analyse at least five different methods/approaches
  2. How might they be applied and used in your own subject specialism/practice?
  3. What ethical considerations might you need to address?


Text based

Text based research is a way of gathering information through reading articles, books reference material, journals, all text based resources and theories that challenge or substantiate or coincide with the ideas of your own practice. To begin a reflection on what it is that drives your interests.

There has to be an emergent idea to begin this process, the initial thoughts are then carried and diverge into other areas of research to build a narrative for your own practice.

These texts can be from any discipline, theoretical debate, cultural phenomena or environmental or social factors that are of interest.

It is also a way of looking at past case studies that are relevant to your chosen subject specific research either in their applied theories or practice outcomes.

Artists that work in a similar way to your own current methods, have concepts of a mirrored narrative, have a research methodology that you wish to adopt to inform or enhance your own knowledge.

Using archival research to study past work


Some textual references may have great significance simply through generating a line of enquiry from a simple concept that then goes on to develop a new tangent of research.

For my subject specialism and practice, my text based research is a way of formulating my theories and interests. A way to absorb information that then substantiates the future methodologies.

By reading up on my relevant interests it will give me informed choices in terms of my practice.

– Studying the meanings and cultural or historical contexts of cloth and specific clothing such as corsetry, this will give me an informed choice of materials, colours and initiate exploration of garment design in relation to pattern cutting. Perhaps relate this to arcival study.

– Researching aspects of female identity within art in relation to sexual signifiers, social expectation and body confidence is an interest I would like to incorporate in my design practice that needs more research. Perhaps this could be linked to experiential aspect of clothing as art, also related to tactile sensations, pleasure, sensuality.

-As a means of justification for my practice, to embed a notion of revaluing fashion, why shouldn’t a couture garment have the elevated status of an artwork? Explore ways of exhibiting work that has functionality and conceptual theory. Look into aspects of documentation, media and display and visual artistry.

-Case study enquiry to relate my practice to other artists or designers, make comparisons, contrasts and challenge thought processes, and ensure aninnovative enquiry.

This mode of research is a way of collating and assimilation the concepts and theories of enquiry so that it becomes embeded in the thought processe when exploring the investigation through practice and becomes a subconscious informed way of working.



Investigation through practice

This type of methodology is where the practice itself is the research, the process of ‘doing’ to further enhance knowledge.

The research is through ‘practicing’ the art, design, craft or technique relevant to the subject are or in conjunction with the concept raised.  The emergence of the idea has to be developed through modes of enquiry, for example a textile artist may investigate mark making through forms of print or embroidery, working through techniques, styles and processes may bring up new areas to explore and develop or be dismissed as irrelevant and inappropriate. The findings can then be critically analysed and evaluated to enhance knowledge

This methodology is vital to my project and will take encompasses the following methodologies of Artistic research, design focused and Problem solving.

The primary reason for undertaking this study is to develop, assimilate and amalgamate my interests and modes of expression.

The text-based research is a way of absorbing information based on an emerging idea that will transpire to inform my practice. There are several ways I wish to investigate through practice. A return to artistic expression through drawing, ink work, photography underpinned with the concepts of interests in anatomy, physiology linked to tactile sensation, feminine cultural representation.

Experiments with translating this starting point into textile and fashion practice, intuitive decoration and problem solving through its translation into a 3d form through pattern cutting leading to a design process to make the idea a consciously informed body of Fashion pieces.



The exploration of ideas in an artistic manner, to be viewed or experienced. So, this form of research can be in a myriad of forms, disciplines and actions, primary and secondary research. The process of making may exist wholly as the research itself or the expression of a concept through the direct making and experimentation, searching for new modes of expression.

So an artist will collate information by exploring the subject of study through, reading, observation, thought, discussion. Explore ways and processes to generate an idea to express in the artwork, such as using sketch books to gather images, write notes , sketches and samples, or to develop knowledge making through practice such as drawinfs paintings, photography or video making.and critical evaluation

This is ultimately an experiential form of research with the end product being to create a reaction from the viewer -pleasure, repulsion, inspiration, emotion through a mode of sel-expression, using ‘..sense, sensation and intuition as part of knowledge making.’[1]

The research may stand alone as method a but in an academic environment the difference of being an artist studying for your practice is informing your work with in-depth knowledge of your subject matter, your interpretation, experimentation and justification, to give an academic ‘framework’[2] to your practice, as cited by Jenny Hughes, to ‘.translate that (art research) into a knowledge out-come that can be shared’.

With this in mind, some time ago, I met an artist who produced beautiful paintings, layers and layers of abstract paint and texture, colour juxtapositions, collage, photography and it’s digital manipulation to create new work – their form of self-expression. The artwork had a chaotic instinctive approach of splattering paint, collaged imagery, drips and built-up texture, experimental and free yet with subliminal order, subconscious repetition and harmony – my words to describe the artwork. When questioned about their work – the self- taught artist had no words. This didn’t lesson the aesthetic value of the artwork but at this point, I realised the worth of my formal education in Contemporary Critical Theory whilst studying Textiles at Goldsmiths College – having an ability to provide a critical evaluation through observational and sensory analysis, of a work of art, either someone else’s or my own. Therefore, artistic research benefits and progresses to enhance knowledge through critical thinking.

In terms of my own practice my artistic research crosses th disciplines of,drawing, collage, photography, digital manipulation, print and embroidery.

With my text based research and visual research embedded in the thought process I wish to study the female form through my artwork, conscious of anatomical physiology, tactile sensation, exploring and developing mark-making, tonal photographic representation of the planes of the body. I wish to then process this imagery and apply it to the 2dimensional artistic research into a 3-dimensional expression through pattern cutting, using this medium in a sculptural way to create my fashion pieces.


Design focused

Design focused research has an end goal in mind and is a cyclical process of idea, development, production and then a return to iseas until the desired design out-come is achieved. [3]

If we think of the ‘double diamond’ design process that was used in the production of the Paxman Skull cap.

The product is the end focus – an object has to be produced and is the starting point, but many factors go into the design process, data analysis, materials exploration, technical factors, user interface, aesthetics, effectiveness amongst others.

So in this multidisciplinary focus ther is an overload of ideas and through trial and error, extensive testing, inquiry and analysis this overload is narrowed into focus to a prototype that has proved effective. The regeneration of ideas is then iniated to perfect the product, tweaking the design , materials, method of production and then ultimately launching this into a public realm for testing and analysis.

Design can also be approached with more artistry and conceptual theory.

This will apply to my own practice but still using a double diamond design process. My end focus is to produce a collection to show case my artistry and technical skill in the form of fashion pieces with an emphasis on pattern cutting.

This process will start with collating information from many lines of enquiry, theories concepts and [ractices used to develop artist research, practical experimentation through technical processes of the 2D to 3D element of pattern cutting which will involve processing artistic research into a formulated shape and designs but will also consider the cultural concepts of feminine sensual identity in the exploration of the seam detailing aspect, it’s element of suggestion and historical referencing to corsetry construction.

The fabric choices will involve some research into cultural significance of cloth, as I wish to use natural, more eco friendly sustainable materials in combination with re-purposing clothing and cloth and the challenges and inspiaration that  that will bring.

These multiple influences then need to narrow their focus and informed choices made before a final collection can then be realized. Following this then the next set of aesthetic processes will emerge. How to realise the experimental processes selected into a design, the processes needed to embellish decorate and embed the artistic research and to consider the experiential experience, tactile sensation and how the pieces need to be displayed.

Problem solving

As Gray and Malins state, in the world of art and design, visual thinking is paramount, to be able to imagine shapes, colours, strategies for making, mentally work through complex techniques. Even if this is done in an intuitive and instinctive way, experimenting with artistic processes needs vision and an ability to judge when something feels ‘right’.  Such as mark making for artistic purposes, through perhaps paint pencils or stitch, which one will give me the effect I have in my mind? Trial, error, experimentation, inquisitiveness and resourcefulness are all essential in th3e problem solving process.

Even though artists and designers often have a foresight and an ability to work through a process of making in their minds, sometimes it is necessary to work through this process to enable an imagining of the next logical step, taking one process at a time with methods to test and trial a concept or technique. In this journey the errors are often as important as the successes, critical evaluation and resourceful imagination pushing our to create alternat innovations to solve the problem.

The problem solving methodology can also be used in a more quantative and analytical manner such as in the Paxman cooling cap where anatomical data was studied and analysed in relation to skull shape in order to create a well fitting cap to maximise it’s effectiveness as a medical aid. I have also conducted a similar type of research into the fit of clothing in regard to creating a well fitting garment for women that have a DD+ bra size. This research can often yield surprising results, for example from my measuring of the women I knew with a larger than average bust I measured around the bust line and the under bust. From measuring approximately more than 20 women with a cup size ranging from DD to G, the numerical difference between these two. measurements was 20cm, with a minor variant of one centimetre either way. So in order to process this data, into a useful format of a prototype , further data research would need to be collected and factored in, such as torso length, bust point positioning, back size, chest size etc.

So through assessing our practice in relation to our desired goal or effect can then lead to further research and problem solving in an evolving series of processes.

As a designer artist, and a maker that uses 2D materials to create a 3D end product through pattern cutting, this problem-solving methodology is a major part of the design process. My working method has an experimental process that involves sketching of ideas, development, sampling, model making, technical research, searching for and collecting resources, finding appropriate materials, and producing trial prototypes in order to achieve the result of satisfaction.

For this MA the problem to solve is how to translate and develop my artistic work, concepts, theories and interests into a cohesive collection of Fashion pieces with an emphasis on Creative Pattern Cutting.

I am eager to get started to produce a body of artwork as a starting point, with an embedded thought process, derived from my text based research into my interests. Absorbing the collated information to enhance the artistic process.

This will then convert to a more technical and analytical process of problem solving to experiment with shape, texture, fabric manipulation, print, fabric molding, and challenges such as using sustainable methods of production, looking into re-purposing fabrics, found pieces and their coice limitations and how to incorporate this into my work.

My aim is to create an intrinsic way of working that continues and evolves as a coherent practice, to establish my place in the creative Industries as a designer artist.




















[1] What is practice as research jenny hughes

[2] Practice as research, method@manchester

[3] Chapter3.2, p76, Gray, C., & Malins, J. (2004). Visualizing Research, a Guide to the Research Process in Art and Design. Ashgated Publishing Ltd..