Today we’d like to introduce you to Ludmila Lembke.
Ludmila, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I get to thank my mother and my grandma for the fashion/textile specific creativity, craftiness, and nature-loving veins running through me. My mom had me when she was a brand new immigrant in Germany. She had come there as a nanny to the kids of a wealthy Columbian family. Instead of attending school, my mother grew up but learning how to keep a home, including mending and making clothes. While I was growing up, my mom created costumes, dresses, and barbie clothing for my sister and me. My grandmother or Oma, as I would call her, was spending a lot of time crocheting at home. She used to take me with her to coffee gatherings with her church friends, where they enjoyed cake and crocheting.
I didn’t fully realize how much I picked up by just being around my family until I attended the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising in Los Angeles. During a beginner sewing class, I realized that not everyone knew how to thread a sewing machine and wind a bobbin. To work on projects that include textures and colors has been with me for a very long time.
When I was about fourteen, I was given an ancient personal computer by my cousin to complete a school project. That old thing did not do what I was hoping it would do. But I did end up discovering a painting software that at that time was as magical as a Unicorn to me. I believe it was called NeoPaint.
A couple of years later, a kid neighbor was a lot more sophisticated in his computer software options he used for drawing mangas. He introduced me to Adobe programs. Fast forward to L.A., and I was able to skip some of my computer-aided design classes in college because I was already well versed in the software. One time, one instructor gathered my fellow students around me so that I could show them a trick that she did not know. That, as I would soon notice, would become a regular occurrence in my career — me showing people tips and tricks.
During my freelance and full-time designer years, one recurring theme started to happen. Colleagues would see my fashion flat sketches, and line sheets work or see something I did while they were nosily looking over my shoulder. They’d then stop by and ask me how I did that. They would then ask me to show them and tell me that I should consider teaching my computer skills. I kept wondering, doesn’t everybody know how to do this? I didn’t give myself credit for all the extra research and personal time that I invested in geeking out over British design magazines. I didn’t see that while I was interested in Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator tutorials of any sort. A lot of other fashion designers rather did not deal with the computer at all. I also had a lot of fun translating workflows that were not fashion related to fashion-related workflows.
In 2005, I put my first add for private classes on Craigslist, and by 2006 I had rented a small office in Burbank because I couldn’t have strangers keep coming to my home. Within my first year, I was training fashion designers and technical designers from companies like Juicy Couture and Lucky Brand Jeans privately.
Has it been a smooth road?
It took me a little more than a year after graduating from FIDM to find my first full-time job (lingerie designer). I remember being upset and doubting my talent and career choices because I could “only” land freelance gigs during that time.
The not-so-lousy reality was that my computer skills in 2003 were a significant advantage to me receiving paid jobs while still in college. I was able to work as a freelancer right away. It is incredible looking back that I had already learned by accident what it means to do contract work and how to work remotely and offsite with clients.
During the first year of teaching privately, I learned quickly to put contracts and payment agreements into places. Simple policies such as reminding students that start and end times are set in advance and that last-minute cancellations result in forfeited class credits.
Another recurring remark started to surface, and that was the wish that I could just sit inside of their pocket and help them while at their job. This prompted me to create video training courses for Adobe Illustrator for fashion designers and Adobe Photoshop for fashion designers. My first courses were burned onto CD-ROMs, and once I created my first website, I started shipping them to designers in Australia, Britain, and Canada as well.
To think that I did not have a clue on how to even create a CD-ROM with a table of content that would make the videos pop up and play. I ended up buying a book from the authors featured on a popular learning website and took their CD content apart to learn how to do it. That is pretty much how I have learned everything of significance in the past before YouTube.
At one of the companies that I worked as a lingerie designer, we didn’t have a budget to purchase artwork to be printed on fabrics. If I wanted textile designs on the lingerie that I designed, I had to create the textiles. It turns out that I now prefer working in textile design over fashion design and enjoy teaching it as well. Because of the low to no budget – I am a self-taught textile designer and have bit by bit learned what makes an excellent hand to digital textile design workflow.
We’d love to hear more about your business.
As a designer, educator, and creative entrepreneur, my greatest joy is helping other creatives grow their digital design skillset, develop design confidence, and create the career of their dreams. As a college, corporate, and online instructor, I have taught thousands of students how to use Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator and grow in their creative careers.
Today, I offer on-demand video courses and membership access to digital design training on FashionChalkboard.com in the FSCHBD-Studio. The offering has grown to include textile design, tech packs, digital brand style -boards, and more. The FIDM Alumni department and I have been offering online and in-person refresher courses since 2008, and I have been an adjunct instructor at Trade Tech for computer-aided design since 2006. My most recent corporate client has been the technical design team at K-Swiss company in downtown L.A.
As a designer I have pivoted my career many times, always following my bliss, from being a clueless assistant lingerie designer to working as a creative director of a lingerie company, to working as a freelancer, cad artist, colorist, textile designer, and more. This makes me uniquely qualified to see infinite possibilities for my client’s career paths and help them understand the many opportunities as well.
I have had the fantastic opportunity to see my designs all over the apparel world; my lingerie designs sold at stores such as, Lane Bryant, Leg Avenue, Urban Outfitters, to Fredericks of Hollywood, and to a small boutique owned by Patricia Fields (who styled the Sex in The City series).
My textile designs were used on a variety of products ranging from prints on baby clothing, handbags, denim back pockets, to appliques on corsets.
And most recently, at Adobe’s textile design booth in Barcelona where my textile designs were showcased as a spotlighted designer.
There are many places to learn Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop. I have been and continue to learn from excellent instructors from around the world, as well. But as many of my former students have voiced to me, it is truly invaluable to learn with an instructor who has worked in the fashion industry and knows what the daily challenges look like and brings real-life solutions to the table. I consider myself a life long learner and will continue to bring updated workflows and new solutions to old and new problems in our industry.
Is our city a good place to do what you do?
Absolutely. Yes, L.A. is an excellent place to work in the apparel industry. For those who wish to study or teach as well. There are college options in the creative arts for all income levels and backgrounds. The L.A. fashion district is full of resources to start your own line, research other designer’s lines, or apply for an internship and job.
- FSCHBD – STUDIO All Access to video courses for digital fashion, textile design, and more $35/ month – $300/ year
- DIGITAL SKILLS TRAINING ONE-ON-ONE (learn either Adobe Illustrator or Adobe Photoshop): 10 hours total $770, divided into 2 hour sessions in 2 months, access to 1 course of choice after deciding what is most beneficial
- Website: Fashionchalkboard.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @fashionChalkboard
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/illustrator.for.fashion/
- Other: https://www.youtube.com/fashionchalkboard