Hello! Tell us a little bit about yourself:
My name is Cindy Hsu Zell and I am based in Los Angeles, CA. I make sculptures out of wood, metal, and hand-spun rope. I also have a jewelry line for sensitive ears called WKNDLA, and I recently got my real estate license so that I can learn more about property design, building, development, and investment.
Where is home for you?
I was born and raised in Southern California. It’s my favorite place in the world and even though I love to travel it always feels amazing coming home!
Tell us a little about your journey and your art:
I grew up in San Gabriel near the mountains and studied sculpture and animation at USC. My approach to art stems from this love of nature and movement as well as a deep curiosity about form, texture, and minimalism.
What is your preferred medium?
I create large-scale wall sculptures out of sustainably-sourced natural fibers, wood, and metal. My work is material-driven and explores the influence of gravity on composition. Individual pieces serve as studies on gesture, curves, drape, and weight.
What is your design inspiration?
Nature influences a lot of my work. My pieces have been inspired by desert hues, the cascading of waterfalls, and mountain landscapes. I am also drawn to Memphis design, the California Light and Space movement, and Art Deco. I am also constantly inspired by the material and process itself, allowing the medium to spark new ideas. Right now I’m delving into wood carving and am letting the meditative qualities of the technique to influence my newest collection.
Describe your personal style:
I am a minimalist and prefer everything in my home to be as beautiful as they are functional. I like things that are comfortable, calm, and simple. I collect ceramics and dried floral arrangements. I don’t think a home can have too many vases!
What is the most inspiring piece of advice you ever received?
My friend told me very early on that I have to be my own biggest advocate. Don’t be shy about promoting your work and sharing your successes! Talking about my art and process still doesn’t come naturally, but I realized that while it’s hard putting my work out there, I need to trust myself as well as the support and kindness of others.
What is your favorite knot or technique?
I developed my technique for spinning and dyeing rope in 2014 – It’s a process that begins with stringing thread hundreds of times for every length of finished rope. I encourage those who see my pieces in person to also experience them through touch. From beginning to end, the pieces are innately interactive starting with the meditative process of construction to someone brushing them in their own home. Making this tactile connection through my work is why I enjoy what I do so much.
How do you define yourself or your work?
I take a lot of pride in my process and love the organic result that comes from having a touch of hand in everything I make. I like to challenge myself to use materials in original and unique ways.
What is the last great book/podcast that you read/listened to?
I listen to a lot of podcasts while I work - the most recent episodes I listened to are from 99% Invisible, The Allusionist, Criminal, Every Little Thing, Flash Forward, How I Built This, Mortified, TED Radio Hour, and Terrible, Thanks For Asking.
What has been the biggest obstacle for you creatively?
My biggest challenges as an artist are mental. Running a business full-time brings out every doubt, insecurity, and fear. It took me a long time to get to a place where I truly believed in abundance over scarcity and learned to reach out for support. I’m on my own but I really can’t do it alone. Trusting my gut and believing in myself is a constant work in progress!
What advice do you have for young artists?
Progress is not linear, it’s cyclical. I used to think that once I reached my goal, I'd finally “make it” and know what I’m doing. In reality, there are many goals, milestones, mistakes, and challenges along the way - I learn something new every day. Your work will evolve and at times it will feel like you’re starting all over again from the beginning. With discomfort comes growth!