When I first met Fuchsia Lin through a mutual friend, I was blown away by her personal style. Her mix of print, pattern, color and texture was so deft she appeared to me like a jewel, something so beautiful and special you just have to share it with the world. Of course, Fuchsia is much more than her unicorn style, she’s an amazingly sweet, talented and creative individual as well. With a resume that includes costume and fashion design, textile arts, production and direction, I had to know more and thankfully Fuchsia was willing to let me take a peek into her life and her closet …
VGS: What was your path to becoming a textile artist? If you hadn’t found this path, what do you think you’d be doing now instead?
F: I was a first generation Taiwanese American wearing overalls as a kid growing up in a small Michigan town. I had no fashion sense at all, but I loved creating art. I was very serious about drawing, calligraphy, painting and Chinese paper cutting. At one point, it was my goal to become a professional calligrapher. It wasn’t until later on in high school and college that I developed an interest in fashion and textiles. When I studied art in college, I was drawn to textiles and surface design techniques because it integrated what I loved doing as a child with my current interests.
After I received my BFA in textiles design, I went onto study fashion at Parsons School of Design. After graduating, I worked a few years in the fashion industry. Eventually I transitioned into costumes because I wanted to create one-of-a-kind pieces for the performing and visual arts. Musicians, Bjork, Karen O and Rebecca Chamberlain wore some of my pieces, and that was super encouraging to continue the path which eventually led me to where I am now.
I can’t imagine myself doing anything other than what I’m doing now. Since I was four years old, I knew I was going to be an artist, and that’s always been the path that I’ve been driven to pursue.
VGS: Though your work primarily consists of costume design and working with textiles you also explore other media such as film, performance, and sculpture. How do these extra elements usually present themselves to you and how do you adapt them to make them flow into your work?
F: I think of myself as a conceptual artist/director/producer now more than a costume designer or textiles artist, although the main focus of my projects will always be the costume. I create a concept for an art project and I find the
collaborators I want to work with and what the most effective medium is to get the message across.
My work has evolved into film for my current project, Crystals of Transformation. I had been producing/directing live performance for many years; however, it seemed natural to evolve into film so that I could incorporate different locations into the performance.
Through this process, I also realized that film is a much more effective medium than live performance is in delivering the details and artistry of a costume. One of my steadfast goals is to bring recognition to the art of costuming and “slow fashion”. Through film, the costume can be seen up close and in detail, in slow motion, with controlled lighting that really shows it off. Film can also create abstraction from chosen compositions of the body in movement. These abstractions resemble forms in nature that are the inspiration for the water crystal costumes in Crystals of Transformation.
VGS: What drew you to living in Portland?
F: I had always been an east coaster, big city person. I’ve lived in NYC, Paris, and Taipei but when I met my boyfriend in New York City, he just kept talking about the Pacific Northwest. Eventually I took a trip out here to visit Seattle, Portland and San Francisco nine years ago during the beautiful summertime. I chose Portland because I felt like I would be able to live a life of higher quality, as well as being in a unique city.
VGS: What, if anything, do you think is missing from or would improve Portland’s creative / art scene?
F: A costume institute just like the one at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York!
VGS: What has been your biggest challenge so far and how did you overcome it?
F: My biggest challenge that has already happened that I overcame was the 2013 fundraising campaign I did through USA Projects and raised over $6,000 to begin my project, Crystals of Transformation. This was the first fundraising effort I have ever made in my whole life. I had a lot of shyness about asking people to donate money and maintaining a strong social media presence to in order to promote my project.
I had a lot of wonderful support from my boyfriend, family, friends, collaborators and co-workers. I also had a great fundraising advisor at USA Projects who believed in me and gave me encouraging pep talks (that I still go back to read now and then). A friend of mine, Kim Dawson, a creative consultant, donated her expertise and coached me on PR tactics.
I don’t know if I would have reached my goal without the help of all these wonderful people, but ultimately, I had to really believe in myself and be courageous and passionate about sharing my mission and my art with the world.
VGS: How do you stay motivated?
F: It’s many things; the Taiwanese culture I was raised in is all about working hard and striving to excel. Being the first generation of Taiwanese immigrants, I have a lot of pressure to succeed in this country. It’s in my genes – I come from a family of PhD’s.
I am usually working with a personal/professional coach or mentor to improve some aspect of my life. I am grateful to have found wonderful teachers and healers to share their gifts, expertise and skills with me.
I recently received a Regional Arts and Culture Council professional development grant to work with an art coach/film consultant this fall/winter. Also, acupuncture, yoga, swimming, cooking, bike riding, taking naps, and listening to Ted Talks.
VGS: What’s inspiring you most right now?
F: Water is always my inspiration! Dr. Masaru Emoto’s research on water. My Dad. The incredibly talented collaborators I am working with for my Crystals of Transformation film!
VGS: What can we expect from you in the future?
F: Crystals of Transformation, an environmental film trilogy about water, featuring original water crystal costumes, dance and music composition. The first film has been completed and the second film, Inner Glacial Melt, is currently in production. The third film will begin production in 2018. (You can watch the trailer for the first film here.)
VGS: Lastly, what are you most looking forward to wearing this fall/winter?
F: I’ve always loved capes and ponchos. They are my favorite fall/winter wear! I also love wearing my favorite purple knit hat with huskies on them.
For more on Fuchsia’s projects, including her Crystals of Transformation trilogy, check out her website www.fuchsialin.com and the Crystals of Transformation Facebook page.