Interview by Marija Butkovic @MarijaButkovic
Lindy Wilkins is a Maker, cyborg, and educator currently based in Toronto. She has a bachelors from Concordia University, a masters from OCAD University, and currently she is a PhD student at the University of Toronto. She also teaches at OCAD University and Ryerson University, and is artist in residence at the Social Body Lab. She is interested in wearable technology, weird and wacky curiosities, lasers and building whimsical robots. She is co-executive director at Little Dada, co-organizer at Make Change Conference and Make Friends Meetup, and director at Site 3 coLaboratory. She co-runs an installation company called Big Red Sky.
Lindy, tell us a bit about your background and your projects so far.
How did you get into this industry? I was first interested in wearables generally through the idea of the Cyborg, merging people and technology in a creative way. My initial artwork didn't feel like wearables as we conceptualize them now, but slowly my work morphed into artistic concoctions of cybernetic beings. I have an undergrad in computation arts, and a masters in digital media, so that definitely laid the groundwork for my explorations in this field. The natural evolution of my work started to explore how to connect with the body, and then I became more involved in industry collaborations.
What does your current job role entail?
I have many jobs! I freelance consult on technical projects, manage labs, and teach wearable technology as adjunct faculty at a few universities in Toronto. I teach primarily theories of how to design for the body, and material exploration of how to technically fabricate objects that are comfortable, functional, and wearable.
What projects are you working on at the moment?
I'm always working on something! Currently, I'm working on a Space Simulation suit, and lots of art pieces that you wear on your head.
How has your career progressed since your degree? Has it been an easy industry to get into or have you had many challenges?
Wearables is a new and vague field. You might find yourself making your own job, or making a career out of many small jobs. It takes specific dedication and meeting lots of people deliberately. Its not a career that casually happens, but its also not impossible!
How long did it take you to be where you are now?
Difficult question to answer. I started as a web developer about 10 years ago, and have been moving away from that since then. In the past 3 years, I'd say my work has fully departed from traditional dev work.
What was the biggest obstacle?
The biggest obstacle is not knowing what the path looks like, and accepting you have to make your own. It has been challenging for me to pitch myself to people, and to make it a point to meet people, but it’s also one of the things I'm most proud of!
What are your biggest achievements to date?
I wouldn't say one specific thing. I'm proud of my work and where I've come. I love getting to give advice, chat, and feel like I can say these things with confidence and experience.
What does the #WomenInTech movement mean to you? What are the challenges of being a woman in wearable tech / STEM?
I think it is an important movement, and would love to see it be more deliberately trans inclusive as many trans folks face the same challenges.
What is the most important piece of advice you can give to all female founders, entrepreneurs and designers in this industry out there?
Don't let people talk to you like you don't know what you're doing. You're brilliant.
In your opinion, what will be the key trends in the wearable tech and STEM industry in the next 5 years and where do you see it heading?
Smart materials, augmented reality, things getting REAL small! I'm also excited for accessible integration of conductive materials into textiles on a large scale.
Who are your 3 inspirational women in wearable tech and / or STEM?
I'm going to name my friends, because they inspire me every day. Hillary Predko. Kate Hartman, Catherine Larose.
Instagram: @leebot_ // @little.dada
Twitter: @linbot_ // @LittleDada_tech
Photo of RE:Familiar by Lindy WIlkins + HIllary Predko (little dada) photo by Edward Ross
Photo of VOIDS by Lindy Wilkins featuring Alenn Predko
Photo of Android Apparatus by Lindy Wilkins + Hillary Predko (little dada) photo by Max Lander featuring Vanita Butrsingkorn
This interview was conducted by Marija Butkovic, Digital Marketing and PR strategist, founder and CEO of Women of Wearables and co-founder of Kisha Smart Umbrella. She regularly writes and speaks on topics of wearable tech, fashion tech, IoT, entrepreneurship and diversity. Visit marijabutkovic.co.uk or follow Marija on Twitter @MarijaButkovic @Women_Wearables @GetKisha.