Q&A with Amie Lin:
Tell me a little bit about yourself, who you are, and where you are from.
I am a nomad- maybe you can call me a “citizen of the world”. I was born in Taiwan but my family immigrated to the US when I was eight-years-old. As a result of having been uprooted from a very young age, I never knew where my true home is. When I turned eighteen, I moved to from Los Angeles to Florence, Italy and have never returned to LA. Since then I have lived all over the world and traveled to more than thirty countries. Now I reside in Williamsburg, Brooklyn with all the other self-proclaimed nomads.
How do you describe your self as an artist and the kind of work you create?
I would describe myself as an “experimental artist”– I work with wool, wax, paint and metal and I combine these elements into one composition. I enjoy challenging the notion of “painting” and pushing its limitations beyond just pigments over canvas. I often experiment with different materials to achieve textures and qualities that paint cannot. For instance, wool is very buildable and extremely versatile, felting different types of fibers together creates a rich and tactile texture that you can never achieve with paint. I also enjoy the juxtaposition of the hard against the soft and shiny against the dull. I think seeing unexpected materials next to each other really accentuate the beauty of each material. There is something really sexy about seeing rusty metal against black wool that makes me drool.
Please tell me where you work and explain what your job entails.
Sometimes I work as a freelance Creative/Art Director in fashion advertising. The job entails a lot of brainstorming, concept development, pulling “swipes”(industry lingo for stealing images), designing and eventually production. It is a lot of work but the perks are great and plus it gives me the time to paint.
What other creative things are you currently working on?
A few neighbors and I turned a junkyard next to our apartment building into a community garden. Sometimes I like to hang in there and pretend to have green thumbs. I am also working with a good friend of mine on creating a artist retreat that combines travel with creating art and building artistic communities.
What has been your personal career path that led you to where you are today?
This is a brief list of my career path:
1. Sushi waitress (in London)
2. Gym receptionist (in London)
3. Painter (not canvases, walls!)
4. Artist assistant (for a crazy alcoholic artist in France)
5. Graphic Designer (first creative job)
6. Art Director
7. Creative Director
8. Painter (finally, for art this time)
Did anyone in particular influence your life or give you direction? Did you have ‘aha’ moment?
Growing up in a traditional Asian family it never crossed my mind that one could do art as a profession. I have always had artistic inclinations but it was never cultivated. My art teacher in high school, Ms. Dunn, was the first person who recognize my artistic abilities. I never knew that I was creative until she took me under her wings and really mentored me and encouraged me to pursuit this path. She was my aha moment.
When did you first discover wool as an artistic medium?
I was in an airport in Japan when I came across a book on wool-felting. I bought the book because I was fascinated by the process. After I returned to New York I started experimenting with wool. From the moment I touched my first roving of black wool, something clicked inside me and I knew that wool would become my medium of expression.
How did you learn to do what you do as an artist?
Majority of my artistic skills are self-taught. I have never really ever taken a course. I learned how to felt primarily from books and YouTube videos. I also learned quite a bit about wool from emailing with farmers over the years.
What are you currently working on?
I am working on a series titled “The Presence of Absence”, which explores the notion that sometime it is what is not there- the missing father, the deceased mother, the lover who abandoned- that commands more presence than what is actually there. Many of these pieces are constructed out of black wool.
Describe your style. Is your personal style different from your professional style?
My style is kind of Comme des Garcons meets Rick Owens with a touch of McQueen- slightly punk, slightly quirky and a bit of bohemian-chic. My closet is dominated by black and asymmetrical cuts. My signature style however would be the many over-sized silver rings that I wear on my fingers that I bought in Morocco.
What do you love about the work you do?
The entire process of creation.
Is there anything unexpected about the work you do, or something you didn’t know before you started on this path?
Wool stinks really bad when wet. It is like having ten wet dogs in a small room.
What or who inspires you?
I am inspired by fashion and photography. I worked as an Art Director in fashion advertising for 10 years so it has definitely influenced some of my work. I also draw a lot of inspiration from photographers that I have worked with such as Peter Lindbergh and Tim Walker. Both of these men are extraordinary visionaries and people who I have tremendous respect for.
Any aspirations? Something you’ve always wanted to do or someone you’ve wanted to collaborate with?
If Alexander McQueen were still alive I would have LOVED to collaborate with him. I think we would have made some pretty cool stuff together. In terms of aspirations, I would like my art to take me places. I love to travel and it would be amazing if I can create wool pieces at sheep farms all over the world.
What is your dream project?
My dream project would to make a super large-scale black wool piece for a modern art museum.
Any interesting stories about the work you’ve done or an experience you’ve had?
I never thought I would be corresponding with sheep farmers from all over the world. One lady named Joy has been emailing with me via Etsy for the last couple of years and she gets really excited whenever her lambs produce dark black fleece. Sometimes she would email me to inform me that her lambs are ready for sheering. I think people like to feel like they are contributing to the arts.
How do you define success?
Success is finding your purpose in life and loving what you do.
Any advice for someone interested in following in your chosen path or learning to do what you do?
Believe and stick by your vision. Never compromise it… it is the best asset you have.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
“Always fight for the integrity of your art in order for it to remain a strong clear vision”.
– Maya Lin
For more information about Amie Lin and to see more of her work, please check out: www.amielinart.com