I had the pleasure of meeting today’s #WCW a few months ago, and she was such a sweet spirit and super passionate about her craft.
Christy Chong, a 25-year-old, Korean-American and Maryland Institute College of Art alumna, is a woman who is taking the fashion design world by it’s reigns. Chong developed her passion for visual arts and had a passion for drawing and painting at a young age. “I admired fashion and styling for a long time and loved to play dress-up, paint nails, do my hair, etc. I was just a huge girly girl but never thought that I could actually pursue a career in fashion design just because I did not know too much about garment construction,” said Chong. While in middle school, her mom taught her how to sew, but she felt that the first she made was horrible, so that put a damper on pursuit of fashion, and she focused on her strong suit, fine art. It wasn’t until Chong began college that she realized that she wouldn’t be able to make a living doing fine art. “It was more of a therapeutic, personal hobby and I needed to find another creative way to make a living. Fashion and styling was always fun to me so I tried to find a way to combine that with my love for drawing and painting. That’s when I started sculpting paper and sewing canvases together to create wearable paintings and drawings. I would hand-paint and draw out all of the prints and patterns of the garments after I finished casting these paper dresses and canvas garments. I designed my first collection of wearable paintings and drawings during my junior year of college when I returned from a semester long study abroad trip from South Korea,” said Chong
Chong describes her designs as print-oriented, feminine, and colorful; and they are inspired by her environments, places she’s visited/traveled to, and mundane, overlooked concepts or images.
Although, Chong is an amazing talent, her location can sometimes pose a challenge. The DMV area has a smaller network of artists and fashion designers, so Chong doesn’t have the same opportunities she would in a place like New York City. However, Chong has made it work and was able to land a job right after college with a wearable art designer named Lee Andersen. “She took me under her wing and taught me everything I needed to know to run a small design business. I learned so much by working for her a little under three years, and even launched my own clothing collection with my own artwork custom printed on the fabric that I used to design the collection,” said Chong.
Chong’s ultimate goal is to run her own sustainable, profitable, clothing brand made with fabrics that are custom-printed with the artwork she creates. “My ideal life would look like this: I would wake up in the morning and go to my studio to paint and draw whatever I am inspired by that day, week, or month. I would then like to transform those paintings and drawings into prints for each new collection I design for every season. This would be my dream 9-5 job,” said Chong. But she has come to the realization that in order to sustain her own brand of high caliber, she needs a business partner and more resources which calls for a great deal of money. Now she feels that she is ready to expand her horizons by moving to New York City and working for a more global brand to gain even more experience and knowledge.
Chong attributes her faith in God to her success and opportunities that have come her way. While she was at MICA, Chong became a Christian. She said that it changed her perspective on the way she lived and viewed life. She also developed a longing to connect more with her parents and her Korean heritage. “I prayed for God to open all the doors for me to attend a study abroad program through MICA and he answered every prayer. I received scholarship money to go abroad and was required to do a service project that educated the community about my time abroad/promoted the scholarships I received,” said Chong. “Being an art student, I wanted to do something a little outside the box and decided to design for the annual benefit fashion show. That is how I created my first real, cohesive collection of wearable paintings and drawings. I continued making work like this during my senior year for my thesis and that’s when Lee Andersen found me and offered me a job and opportunity to learn with/from her. Working with her taught me so much, and I am now ready to learn even more by working for other brands. I am now waiting for God to open more doors for me and excited to see what He has in store for my future.”
When asked about her thoughts about the broad topic of women’s empowerment, Chong was reminded of the trials and opposition that women face on a daily basis. “Life happens to everyone; the good, the bad, and the ugly, so I admire the women who strive to face hardships and not allow them to sabotage their attitudes/mentality and their future. It is so easy to be tempted to give up and quit whatever it is that one is being challenged by, but persevering and waiting to see the good later is always empowering,” said Chong.
Follow the incredibly talented Christy Chong on Instagram