It’s both easier and harder to be an artist today than ever before. Instagram lets anyone display their craft before an audience of millions, but that same access has produced a crowded environment. Angie Pai knows that better than most. In her early 20s she’s already established a following across photography, canvas and textile lovers. She spoke to Gani Moore about the random encounters, old memories and leaps of faith that she’s taken to break through.
When did you first discover your artistic skills?
I think I've always appreciated the freedom to do my own thing. Back at home in Taiwan, emphasis was placed on mathematics and academic subjects from very early on. I have this very vivid memory from when I was five. I was at school and we were being tested on times tables. This memory must be so embedded into my brain because it stressed me out so much. I couldn't answer anything. I went home that day, completely distraught and scared to tell mum I'd answered none of the questions. But when I finally did, she laughed, and said (in Chinese) "It's okay, me too. I am so dumb at maths. But I'm good at drawing, and you are too! So don't worry”. I think that was the first time someone told me I was artistically inclined, because I don't remember thinking anything of it before then - but then again, I was five.
Art isn't all you've got on the go - there is also your clothing brand PAI. Can you tell us what inspired you to enter the world of textiles? It was a total accident! The inspiration greatly came from my friend Adrian Bressanutti. I have a very short attention span, and always enjoyed experimenting with different mediums. I spent a long time embroidering on an old shirt one time, and an old mate Adrian told me off for spending so long on such a sh*t shirt. This lead to us making a long sleeve shirt together, and we were naive enough to jump straight into starting a label.
As another brand that grew in leaps and bounds, we can appreciate how intense that must have been. We can also see a kindred spirit in the design of PAI. Tell us about how that design translates into the finished product?
We aspire to involve the element of tactility as far as we can take it. All garments feature handmade, hand-crocheted, hand-knitted, or hand-embroidered motifs, celebrating the human touch. Each piece takes persistence and patience to achieve. Because of this, production took *literally* forever to perfect. Looking back, we somehow did everything possible to make our lives hard but we’ve got no regrets. We weren't going to put anything out which we weren't 100% happy with, and we're both very proud of what we've created.
We love the collaboration you did with Melbourne photographer Jordan Drysdale. How did this come about?
Again, it was totally by chance! I met Jordan in a designer store a few years ago, and he completely broke my glasses [Editor’s note: glasses always bring people together!]. We met up for coffee one day, and somehow ended up seeing each other every day for the next week. Not long after, we spontaneously went to Japan, then moved in together upon our return home. I guess it was only a matter of time before I crashed his photoshoots too. Jordan was one of the first to inspire my participation in creative projects. He comes home from London very soon, so keep an eye out for that ;) !!
So, what’s next for Angie? I'm very excited for some upcoming projects in January. I still very much need to get my stuff together, so might keep it under wraps for now.
Angie wears the Joyce in Crystal