A chat with Aileen Yu Chieh, painter and textile designer
Hi Aileen, we’re so happy to have you here. Please introduce yourself so we have an idea of who you are and what you create.
My name is Tsai Yu-Chieh and I’m Taiwanese-born, currently living in Antwerp, Belgium. I’m trying to become a fulltime textile pattern designer, which is not easy! At the moment, I’m combining designing with working in a café part-time to sustain myself. I studied textile design and obtained my bachelor’s degree in Textile Design from the Royal Academy for Fine Arts in Ghent in 2009.
After that, I followed a short course at Central Saint Martins in London, which covered fashion design and marketing. In 2011, I got my master’s degree at the Royal Academy for Fine Arts in Ghent. During my studies, I did quite a lot of work and won some awards! In 2007, I designed the pattern for the Taiwan team for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. In 2018, I also had exhibitions in Brugge and Antwerp (Belgium) and Xiamen, China!
Which path did you take to end up here?
After graduation, I questioned myself about my life goals: what do I really want to do; who do I want to be? I traveled to Australia for two years to look for answers, and moved back to Belgium afterwards. But I still hadn’t found a clear answer.
In 2013 I got the chance to work as a pattern designer in Taiwan. After working there for four years, in 2017, I moved back to Belgium again. You could say that I have a serious love affair with this country! Today, I’m looking for all kinds of opportunities to exhibit my work - that’s why I entered the More Fabrics contest!
What does your creative design process look like?
I get inspired by daily life or while I’m out and about. I take a lot of photos, collect leaves, flowers and other memorabilia. I make sketches in my notebook, scan them onto my computer and then collage them into a pattern. I also create patterns in my diary. Each and every one of them has a story, which may link back to an amazing trip or a song I like.
What is currently your favourite creative work or piece of yours, and why?
Besides designing patterns, I also paint. I really love to get creative in this way, creating simple canvasses that look good to me. I enjoy the purity of the colours and shapes.
What inspired your design?
Nature and life itself. I especially like creating patterns with leaves and flowers on it. Nature provides me with an unlimited source of inspiration; every leaf tells a story. I also take inspiration from my day to day life: cats, lemons during a hot summer, mandala’s, cacti... I’m sure these will reflect in my future work as well.
What kind of challenges did you face in your creative work?
The most difficult thing that I’ve encountered throughout my career is finding my own voice and sticking to it. Finding out who I actually am. I used to create things because people liked them. I made very complicated patterns, to show of my skills and to prove my abilities, even though I didn’t love what I was creating. The process of creating something is always a way to discover myself – and I’m still on that journey.