Full Circle: Successful Alumna Returns to Share Wisdom With Current Students
Carin Wu, an accomplished fashion designer, painter and Academy of Art University alumna, has
returned to her alma mater to help international students pursue their artistic endeavors. The
Taiwanese MFA Fashion graduate had to fight to follow her dreams, but in the end, it has been worth
For as long as she can remember, Carin had aspirations of being a fashion designer. She
recalls cutting up her mother’s clothing to use as textiles for her own designs. Though many
Chinese families support education in the arts, some look down on it as a career choice. For her
undergraduate degree, she studied international business, but couldn’t shake the desire to design
clothing. It was an interest that permeated her everyday life.
“When I walk down the street, I like to observe what people are wearing. I am inspired by the
way people dress themselves,” she said.
She had a cousin in the Interior Design program at the Academy who informed her about the
Graduate Fashion program. And though it was difficult, she
proved herself to her family as truly dedicated to fashion design. Her parents said she could
enroll as long as she also pursued an MBA at Golden Gate University.
“Don’t give up on art and design. If you have the interest, you have to be strong enough to
convince your family of what you want,” she advises.
With double the work of most students, Carin accomplished some amazing feats during her time
at the Academy. She organized a fashion show at the National Taiwan University’s Bay Area Reunion.
The show featured six Academy fashion designers. The biggest honor for Carin was having Academy of
Art University President Elisa Stephens as well as other members of the administration attend.
"A Pregnant Female"
Since graduation, Carin has had a successful career as both a fashion designer and gallery
owner. She was the head designer at Qivia, a lingerie company, and also had her own brand, Malpaso.
She describes her design style as "both sexy and luxurious." She currently owns an art gallery
called ICICARIN in Taoyuan, Taiwan. The gallery displays contemporary, post modern and abstract
art, as well as her own work.
On top of all this, Carin is also an Assistant Professor at Chang Jung Christian University
in Taiwan, where she teaches fashion design and make-up for film and digital media.
Carin returned to the Academy to interview instructors for her doctoral degree project, which
is about the effects new technology has on teaching art and design. Because of her in-depth
knowledge of the Academy, especially regarding international students, the school saw her as an
invaluable resource and hired her to be an International Outreach Representative.
She enjoys sharing her wisdom with prospective students, especially students who are going
through the same experiences she did. She believes the Academy of Art University is the best place
for an international student to learn art and design because of its rich diversity.
"I think the San Francisco lifestyle is a perfect fit for Asian students," she said. "There
are so many different cultures here that can inspire an artist to explore their inner gift."