Merlette collaborates with artists to create unique artworks for our seasonal prints. For Spring ‘23, we partnered with Suyao Tian, a painter, independent curator and gallerist based in the Twin Cities. Tian brought her dreamy and vivid brushstrokes to her first original print for a brand, which she felt “translated perfectly to the dress…complementing and enhancing the overall design.” Find out how the collaboration came out, how her upbringing in China influences her work and her approach to painting. 


Q: How would you describe your painting technique?

A: My painting technique revolves around the use of watercolor and other water-based media. I take pleasure in layering different colors and shapes to create depth and texture in my paintings, which often results in organic and abstract pieces. I prefer using a loose style brushwork when working with watercolor and other water-based media. This approach allows the water and paint to interact naturally and form organic shapes and lines on the paper. By doing so, I can create a more spontaneous and natural feel in my paintings, capturing the fluidity and movement of the moment.

For me, painting is all about experimentation with different media and techniques. I am passionate about exploring the boundaries of traditional watercolor painting and pushing the medium in new and exciting directions, resulting in captivating and original pieces of art that express my creativity and passion.

Crescent Dress

Q: What inspired the print? How would you describe the print?  

A: The inspiration for this print was the beauty of spring flowers, especially their early season colors that are so fresh and vivid. The goal was to capture the dreamy, ethereal feeling of spring through the use of soft, flowing lines.


Q: How did the collaboration come about?

A: Sullivan Street Studio reached out to me with a proposal to design a pattern for Merlette. They believed that my creative vision and expertise would be a perfect fit for the project, and that our collaboration would yield exceptional results. I was thrilled to be given the opportunity to work with such talented and visionary partners, and I accepted the offer with enthusiasm. Together, we worked closely to develop a unique and innovative pattern that reflected our shared commitment to excellence and beauty.

Q: How does your work as a gallerist affect your practice?

A: Working as a gallerist has certainly presented some challenges, but it has also been an incredible opportunity to work with a diverse range of artists and learn from them. Collaborating with artists from different backgrounds and using various media has expanded my knowledge and creativity, and I have formed meaningful connections and friendships in the process. Overall, my work as a gallerist has enriched my artistic practice and broadened my perspective.

Byward Print

Q: You were born in China and now live in the Twin Cities. How has that shaped your aesthetic and approach to art? 

A: Growing up in a culturally diverse city in China has certainly influenced my artistic approach and aesthetic. Exposure to various cultural traditions and practices has enriched my work and allowed me to explore a variety of themes and techniques. Additionally, my background in music has also played a role in shaping my art, as I am drawn to the rhythm and movement of different musical styles.

Living in the Twin Cities has been an incredible source of inspiration for me as well. The natural beauty of the lakes and parks, as well as the diversity of the people and cultures, have influenced my artistic style and subject matter. I am continually inspired by the community and landscapes around me, and strive to capture their essence in my work. Overall, my experiences in both China and the Twin Cities have shaped my artistic approach and influenced the way I create and view art.

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