Studio Visit With Artist Windy Chien

When Windy Chien invited me to visit her SF studio, a couple weeks back, I jumped at the offer. I like to boast that Beklina customers are some of the coolest most interesting women, and I love meeting them and finding out about their work. My visit with Windy supports my theory.

This graceful, centered, open, creative and talented woman, on her third major career, who has me reconsidering video games, had me running to my notebook and leaving her studio overwhelmed with inspiration. Thank you Windy! You have a fan for life. xx Angelina 

Angelina: What was your very first job ever?

Windy: First one ever? Growing up in Hawaii, I had a newspaper route when I was 12 years old. 

A: How did you get into the music business in the very begging?

W: When I was growing up in the 1980’s and ‘90s, for someone who was into music, record shops and college radio were the most exciting places to be. So I DJ’d at the University of Hawaii’s radio station and then worked for 13 years at Aquarius Records in San Francisco. I will always be in love with the communities around record shops, places where likeminded folks come together over a shared passion for making and listening to music.

A: How long were you at Apple, and what projects did you work on? 

W: Eight years total. I started managing the iTunes Essentials brand, which was Apple’s early version of mix-tapes. Making compilations of music for topics as varied as “Indie Rock Wedding Songs” to “Neil young for beginners” to “Hip-Hop Workout”. In my final three years at Apple, I was managing editor of the App Store, where my teammates and I featured the best apps and games on the front pages of all the App Stores worldwide.

A: Do you collect anything?

W: These days, it’s all about knots, the growing collection on my wall is called The Year of Knots and is a document of the year I took to find my voice via the language of knots. Other than that, I used to collect paint by numbers (especially landscapes) and Enid Collins purses. Oh, and vintage 1970s Vera table and bed linens. LOVE THOSE.

A: What’s a favorite knot and why?

W: When I started teaching myself a knot a day for a year, I didn’t know that button knots were even a thing. But they are a huge category of knots. The defining factor of a button knot is that the ends enter and exit the knot at the same spot. So the ends look like stems, atop which the button knot sits like a flower. The simplest button knots are tiny and look like punctuation, whereas the most complex ones feature multiple strands and can be frustratingly complex. My favorite button (and the most difficult one I learned during the Year of Knots) is the Star Knot. It was so hard, it made me cry! Today, it’s my favorite.

A: What is a reoccurring thought you've been experiencing in the last weeks or months? -an idea you may be cycling through, or maybe just a color you keep noticing.. or perhaps a memory or dream that keeps popping up in your mind…heavy or light...

W: I recently dove deep into splices, which are a category of knots that feel very fertile to me. I made a series of relatively small (1-2’) splices for a recent show at Local language Art in Oakland. Now, I’m dreaming of making a very large wall hanging composed entirely of splices. I cannot wait to make this.

A: Describe your personal style...

W: The past few years I was doing the art-teacher-linen-caftan-statement-necklace look. But now that I’ve turned 50, I’m turning to aging-Katherine-Hepburn. Turned up collars, cowl necks, men’s pants. I’m mixing that with my other favorite style: male-Japanese-fashion-editor. You know: indigo, army/camo, wing tips, Commes/Miyake/Kapital. That should take me up to my 70s!

See more of Windy's and her work here.