Take part in UAL’s Taiwan Alumni Group
Meet Ian Hsieh (CSM, BA (Hons) Fine Art & MA Fine Art)
Returning to Taiwan after graduation, UAL’s current 300 Taiwanese students will find a community of over 1600 fellow graduates across the country there to offer advice, support, creative opportunities and most importantly, friendship. Heading up this creative network of enthusiastic alumni is CSM alumnus and fine artist/ curator Ian Hsieh. Ian has been working with UAL’s Alumni Relations team on building the Taiwan Alumni Group for a number of years and wants you to get involved. Find out from Ian about his experiences, why he volunteers his time to connect our graduates, some of the interesting creative projects our alumni get involved in and plans for the future.
What inspired you to come and study in London?
I think it was fate! When I was doing my military service a classmate mentioned that he was planning on going to the UK for further studies, and invited me along to the British Council’s Education UK exhibition. We decided to attend language school together in London and I just fell in love with the city. By chance I had the opportunity to attend the BA Graduation Show at Central Saint Martin’s and was immediately drawn to the school. Initially I planned on only doing a foundation course but ended up staying until my Master’s! I was on the verge of doing my PhD there too though I might very well do so after a few more years of working. Perhaps the school can give me the most loyal student award!
What was the greatest thing you gained from your time at CSM?
I learnt how to conduct research and the importance of methodology as a process and driver of creativity.
What advice would you give any students wanting to move to London from Taiwan?
London is a multicultural city steeped in creativity, with lots of art, design, fashion and music events all the time. These events help to open your eyes to a wider world and provide a great opportunity to build up your network. By attending these events as much as possible, you will be able to develop more creativity and an international mindset.
What was the best thing about living in London?
London’s amazing selection of galleries and museums, exhibitions, art fairs, design festivals, fashion shows…all sorts of events! I’ve never been bored in London!
What have you been doing since graduation?
I had been interning in different countries during the summer holidays, especially in China, where after graduation I started working in a gallery, then became the creative director of a brand consultancy, focusing on art direction and developing cross sector collaboration. I returned to Taiwan in 2014 and starting working as an independent curator and fine artist.
What is your greatest achievement?
I’ve managed to integrate business, art, design and culture in a series of major showcases. In 2013 a team of us ran an art and fashion event called East to East that launched the Shanghai Fashion Week, bringing 40 designers from East London to showcase their work in Shanghai. We later put on a similar event at one of Taiwan’s most famous landmark, the Taipei 101, introducing UAL alumni and London designers to the Taiwanese fashion industry.
Who or what is your greatest inspiration? I love different cultures and as such I love travelling. I try to use as much of my spare time as possible on exploring new places and so far I’ve visited over 300 cities. All of these experiences form the basis of my inspiration.
What do you most enjoy about living and working in Taipei? Taiwan is my home. It is a truly beautiful place. The people are super friendly and the food is of course amazing. Taiwan’s creative and cultural industry is growing rapidly and I want to contribute to its development.
You have very kindly been coordinating our alumni group activities in Taiwan for the last couple of years. What made you volunteer to help us?
It’s my pleasure to help! When I first arrived in the UK, there were so many people who helped me settle in and share their valuable experiences with me. That’s why I wanted to become the head of the Taiwanese student association at UAL and now the UAL Taiwanese alumni network. It’s very rewarding to share happiness and fun!
Tell us about some of the fun activities you have organised for the group and what you hope to do next.
Last year we worked with three charities on a series of fundraisers focusing on helping children with severe sight difficulties. We invited these children to create paintings with us, with them drawing shapes and sillouettes and UAL alumni filling in the colours. Together we raised over NT$1 million for an educational trust aimed at helping these children access better learning environments. It was a truly memorable and joyful experience to bring together art for a good cause, and give something back to our community. We are planning on more events in the future.
How do you think our graduates will benefit from having access to such a strong alumni community?
We have some amazing talent in art, design and fashion among our alumni, and we can work together more closely to create better and more valuable works. We plan to invite alumni from different disciplines to share their experiences with new graduates, in order for them to understand the latest trends and developments, and allowing them to gain a more solid foothold in the creative industries.