I was 16 at the time and had just started to have thoughts about pursuing fashion design. At the time, I had an art teacher who introduced Parsons to me after hearing I was interested in fashion and encouraged me to attend the SIS program. I think it was an inherent curiosity to both explore New York City as a fashion capital and my interest in fashion that led me to enroll in the program. After I did it in 2018, I came back for more in 2019 with an invested interest.
I remember back in 2018, I took my first SIS course in Fashion: Visual Presentation with faculty Jennifer Belton and Christopher Musci. Jenny taught design process and analog presentation while Chris taught the digital component. We were asked to constantly document our experience of the city through photographs which would inspire an entire collection of clothing. I was fascinated by the architecture and fire escapes, from which I developed an applique pattern featured throughout my final 2D collection.
In 2019, for Fashion: Sewing and Construction with faculty Anne Rutter, our course theme was Gender, Pockets, and Handbag. I remember creating a bag and corresponding dress design inspired by gender androgyny with a pastel color palette. Anne showed us the craft of dart manipulation from Shingo Sato which inspired the organic elements of my design.
What skills did you learn in the SIS program that are helping you in the BFA program?
Jenny taught me fashion drawing, from how to gesture the body and render textures to visually represent my ideas and edit them to create a cohesive collection. Chris taught me how to use Photoshop and create surface designs to digitally aid my design process. Anne gave me a foundational understanding of construction in pattern making, sample sewing, and technique explorations that are essential to translate 2D visions into reality. These skills would become integral assets that I continue to develop each day in my creative and design iteration process in the BFA program.
Why do you think SIS is a unique program?
I think SIS offers a unique and authentic experience of what it's like to be an art student living in New York City and going to Parsons. This is a dream for many people, as it was for me. I had an all-rounded experience learning in a college environment from knowledgeable faculty and interactions with the industry. More importantly, it gave me a first-hand understanding of the expectations of Parsons as an institution to inform my decision in pursuing an education here. Students from all over the world participate in the SIS program, which provides a valuable opportunity to build a variety of relationships that ultimately inspire one another.
What are some of the memorable lessons you learned from the instructors?
Now that I’m in my sophomore year of the fashion design BFA, I think of my SIS experiences as the start of my artistic journey. It was a very quick taste of a much bigger commitment. What I came to realize is that it takes persistence to succeed, and ultimately to find your place here. What’s important is to stay curious in the process and not lose faith in the search for purpose.
Check out Leo's website: https://leoqian.myportfolio.com/ and Instagram: @vis.archive or @leo_qian_
This year's Parsons Summer Intensive Studies program is offered online and on-campus in subjects ranging from fashion to graphic design. Browse all courses