We, as the Designer Interviews ("DI") had the distinct pleasure and opportunity to interview award-winning, most creative and innovative Tsai Jung Chiang ("TJC").
Angela Tsai Jung Chiang is a Taiwan and Malaysia based visual artist and fashion designer. She holds a BA in Fashion Design from Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design. Her artworks devoted in inspirations drawn from Oriental literature and Chinese cultural heritage. Angela works across fashion, theatre costume, and printed textile. She is currently running her private design studio.
Tsai Jung Chiang Designs
We are pleased to share with you original and innovative design work by Tsai Jung Chiang.
Designer Interview of Tsai Jung Chiang:
DI: Could you please tell us more about your art and design background? What made you become an artist/designer? Have you always wanted to be a designer?
TJC : I hold a BA in Fashion Design from Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design. My studies at Central Saint Martins specialized in womenswear design and printed textiles. The use of fabrics and silkscreen printing has since become one of the prominent techniques in my works. I have always wanted to work in the art and design industry since childhood. However, my childhood aspiration was to work as a Manga artist, which did eventually transformed into passions for dressing characters, leading me onto the path of studying fashion design.
DI: Can you tell us more about your company / design studio?
TJC : My studio is based in Taipei City, Taiwan. The studio works across fashion, theatre costumes, printed textiles, and visual identity design. In addition to the design works, the studio is currently in the development of a fashion accessory brand.
DI: What is "design" for you?
TJC : For me, "design" resembles engagement and community, and a relevant solution to decoding problems.
DI: What kinds of works do you like designing most?
TJC : I especially enjoy design projects with a research emphasis on historical and cultural value.
DI: What is your most favorite design, could you please tell more about it?
TJC : I have not had a most favorite design yet, but there were design projects I still find joy even years after completing it. An example is The Withering Flower, the printed textile collection I did in 2016. The concept behind the project was symbolic to me. The taboo in Chinese culture, as my childhood of growing up in different Eastern and Western cities, and the dilemma I encountered in recognizing my cultural identity. The silkscreen printing technique was another exciting challenge to overcome in this project, realizing the technical possibility in printing.
DI: What was the first thing you designed for a company?
TJC : I initially worked at a couture house in Taiwan after college graduation. After working at the couture house, I started up my design studio in Taipei. The first project I designed was a collection of theatre costumes, and the theatre performance took place at Taiwan National Experimental Theatre in 2017. It was my first time working on theatre costume, and the entire process was a memorable experience! The co-working alongside the screenplay, theatre crew members, and the actors, the design experience was so vivid and alive. The costume designs would reflect every character's personal story and precisely coordinated with the stage and light design. The co-working process is like an orchestra, with every professional crew collaborated lively for exceptional performance.
DI: What is your favorite material / platform / technology?
TJC : My favorite material base is fabric, and my favorite technique is silkscreen printing.
DI: When do you feel the most creative?
TJC : Physically is either early in the morning or midnight, sitting at my desk and facing a window of the cityscape while thinking. Intellectually is the stage during, and after reading novels, I enjoy freedom in visualizing words in the mind.
DI: Which aspects of a design do you focus more during designing?
TJC : I usually focus a larger time ratio on the conceptual phase. The concept requires in-depth research to fuel the realization.
DI: What kind of emotions do you feel when you design?
TJC : Interestingly, it is the emotions of constant criticism I had for myself. The design process generally is not about feeling optimistic. Instead, it is more about imaging the most difficult struggles that I might encounter.
DI: What kind of emotions do you feel when your designs are realized?
TJC : A void actually, it felt like there could always be room for improvement.
DI: What makes a design successful?
TJC : The design should naturally engage people without too many further explanations. It should be a part of the people and the community.
DI: When judging a design as good or bad, which aspects do you consider first?
TJC : I think about the design, whether as relevant or not. I reckon a design is "good" if it is connected to the people and making an impact on the community.
DI: From your point of view, what are the responsibilities of a designer for society and environment?
TJC : Be responsible and considerate of the messages we communicate through designs. Be conscious of the material and technology we implemented and its impact on the environment.
DI: When was your last exhibition and where was it? And when do you want to hold your next exhibition?
TJC : My last exhibition is at the Taipei Free Art Fair, taking place in Taipei City in December 2019. I am currently planning on holding a solo exhibition next year, after my further development of printed textile installations.
DI: Where does the design inspiration for your works come from? How do you feed your creativity? What are your sources of inspirations?
TJC : Most of my contextual inspirations come from cultural studies, as well as Chinese literature and poetry. Reading is an excellent source of inspiration. The inspirations for design realization come from approaches to find questions, through observation of the people and the community's behaviors and needs.
DI: How would you describe your design style? What made you explore more this style and what are the main characteristics of your style? What's your approach to design?
TJC : The applying of plant and floral motifs is one of the main characteristics of my design approach. I find the topics about life's transience impactful in my design. The use of symbols representative of life's inevitable cycle, as well as the power in begetting new lives, has always been a prominent aspect in my work.
DI: Where do you live? Do you feel the cultural heritage of your country affects your designs? What are the pros and cons during designing as a result of living in your country?
TJC : I was born and raised until 15 years old in Taiwan before moving to Canada to study in high school. I later went on to college and lived in the UK for five years before moving back to Taiwan for work. Recently I traveled frequently between Taiwan and Malaysia for studio works. The diverse cultural heritage I experienced and gradually embodied in my works over the years is precious to my core identity.
DI: Can you talk a little about your design process?
TJC : The process began by looking at potential questions that occurred and then looking for solutions. The research phase would take up intense schedules from contextual, academic, to philosophical fields.
DI: Which tools do you use during design? What is inside your toolbox? Such as software, application, hardware, books, sources of inspiration etc.?
TJC : I usually started sketching after initial research. Hand sketching is an efficient method to capture visual ideas quickly. A typical toolbox will include a pencil, 0.28 black pen, charcoal, and oil pastel. After the initial sketch phase, computer software like Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator are my most frequently used tools.
DI: What type of design work do you enjoy the most and why?
TJC : I enjoy working on art installations because they extend from object to space, and it is an exciting process to put ideas and realizations to the test.
DI: What are your future plans? What is next for you?
TJC : I am planning to start an accessory brand in the future, with a core material based on printed textiles and original pattern library. I am also working on developing The Withering Flower collection. I am looking forward to building larger-scale art installations with the textile technique, and further developing the contextual studies on ideas of the abject in Chinese culture.
DI: How can people contact you?
TJC : Email: email@example.com Instagram: @angela_chiang_