Shortly after the launch of T/m this past April we were contacted by make-up artist Tommy Chiang. Tommy expressed interest in working on future editorial shoots with T/m so we got together and while we were talking he mentioned an upcoming creative he was going to be working on for OPENSTUDIO and wondered if T/m would like to observe or be part of it. He went onto explain that OPENSTUDIO, the brainchild of fashion designer Angela Chen and artist/designer Alex Yueh Lu, was a “prep school” for students in the early stages of portfolio building in order to apply for admission to Art, Fashion or Design school. WOW! Exactly our demographic, how could we not jump on the opportunity?
This interview with Angela and Alex took place at OPENSTUDIO shortly after the photo shoot of these, Paul Klee inspired, designs by students Kailin Chu and Sally Guo.
Please tell our readers a little bit about yourselves.
/alex lu I went to Emily Carr for four years to get my Bachelor Degree in Fine Arts, so I majored in painting and drawing and after that I went to SAIC in Chicago for two years for my Masters Degree and then two more years at SVA in New York.
OMG! How old are you? You only look like you are 21 or so… (laughing)
/al Yeah, TOO much school (laughing) it was a four year program but I cut it in half and said “that’s enough”.
Angela, what about you?
/angela chen I went to Parsons The New School for Design in New York for fashion design.
Did you go right after High School?
/ac No, I took a year off and worked on my portfolio before I went and then after finishing school I stayed for a couple of years and interned with Anna Sui, Marc Jacobs and Carolina Herrera.
How long have you been running OPENSTUDIO?
/ac We started OS in 2009 and we just recently moved to the space that we are in now.
How did OS come about, was the year you spent preparing your portfolio after high school the seed for this? Who helped you with your portfolio?
/ac That is the thing, I didn’t know what I wanted to do and Alex started me thinking about design and he said “try fashion”.
/al When she was in high school she would dress in crazy clothes, she had a great sense of personal style that most people couldn’t pull off but she did, that’s how I first noticed her.
/ac At that time Alex had just finished Emily Carr and was preparing for Grad School so he knew what was involved in preparing an application portfolio and he helped me prepare mine for Parsons and I was accepted! It was stressful but also exciting and looking back a very creative period in my life.
Was that original direction of OS, portfolio building?
/al When I was in 3rd year of art school my mom said “why don’t you make some money?” So I thought that I could put an ad out in local papers and teach drawing and painting in my basement studio. I started teaching little kids and old grandmas, actually my grandma was my first student, she wanted to support me and said that she would me my first student.
Did she get accepted at any schools? (laughing)
/al (laughing) Yes, she is in London at Central St. Martins! (laughing). When I started to teach i found that I really liked it, that when people were happy with their work and when I could help them express themselves it made me excited.
I was surprised during the shoot at how professional OS is, I think that maybe I was expecting more of a “community art class”….
/al We want to bring the Art School experience here so that when our students are accepted into programs, wherever they might go, they are prepared and can be engaged right from the start. The students collaborate with each other and also push each other, they are not afraid to be competitive.
This project was conceptual fashion, are you teaching pattern making and traditional fashion courses also?
/ac Yes, in the summers we have programs for beginners who are interested in fashion and we cover all the basics, but most of the students we have right now already have fashion firmly in their minds and are pursuing portfolio building. For their portfolios I don’t want just another pair of jeans or a cardigan, we want to really push them and make it extraordinary like we did with this shoot.
Well, this has been really great! Any final words for any of our readers who may be interested in building a portfolio through OPENSTUDIO?
/ac We have students from ages 12 to 18-19 and we encourage anyone who is interested in attending classes with us to contact me at 778 938-0819
Alex and Angela, for all of our readers, we thank you for your time and look forward to visiting you again.
models / alicia k. / kayla u. for lizbell agency
photography / kelly jill
photo assistant / roy peng yue
production / openstudio
creative director / alex yueh lu for openstudio
fashion director / angela chen for openstudio
hair / emma park for avant garde
makeup / tommy chiang using mac cosmetics
outfits / kailin chu / sally guo for openstudio
styling / kailin chu / sally guo for openstudio
video(s) / direction & camera / victor john penner for T/m
video(s) / editing / david james for thekreative
music (/kayla) / “love therapy” licensed by apm music
music (/alicia) / “french motion” licensed by apm music
intern for T/m / jared nome
special thanks to the following for their support and/or loan of products and service…