Observer: Tran Nguyen | Artist

Observer: Tran Nguyen | Artist

tran nguyen - ammo - 1
by Malaya Velasquez

What’s your AMMO?
My ammo consists of my family. They’re the most selfless and supportive assets of my life.

What inspired you to pursue art, what is one of your youngest and most vivid memories of a growing relationship with art?
I think it was built in me to pursue a creative endeavor. As a child, I was exposed to many impressionable cartoons such as Samurai Pizza Cat, Busy World of Richard Scarry, and Anime, which prompted my desire for visual art. When I was in elementary school, I drew a horrific portrait of my mom with the letter “w” forming the curvature of her boobs. She loved it, of course.

How did attending SCAD shape your art?
Before enrolling at SCAD, I was artistically immature and undisciplined. Most of my raw skills were honed in my two years of foundation classes. At the end of my senior year, everything fell together — I came across an art therapy book that solidified my direction, I found my technique with acrylics & color pencil, thus finding my style.

What sets SCAD apart from other art schools?
SCAD offers a unique art community. Being surrounded by people with corresponding passion creates a motivating learning atmosphere. Everyone’s unique background and aspiration was a catalyst in furthering my skills and challenging myself.

What drew you to focus on illustration rather than other artistic expressions?
Many years ago, I came across Bruce L. Moon’s book titled “Art and Soul” which sparked my interest in art therapy. His writings helped solidify my aspirations as an artist and person. He elaborated on many universal concerns that interested me such as our place in the universe and existential emptiness, concentrating on the therapeutic impact of art making to the viewer as well as the artist. I find illustration to be my vessel conveying this.

What is one of the most important aspects of your creative process?
I try to pinpoint the concept behind each of my paintings toward a specific but universal emotion we’ve dealt with in our lives. It’s ubiquitous to say that life is a series of hardship — it’s my hope that the viewer can relate, recollect, thus foster well-being from what they interpret. Ultimately, I’d like for my work to serve as a buffer in getting through uncertain times.


What is the most daunting aspect of your work?
Many hours/days spent alone in the studio can really hinder your social skills.

What is the most thrilling aspect of your work?
It’s an amazing feeling when you triumph over a project that’s given you hell.

As a young artist in particular how would you describe your place, as it were, in the art world?
I’m currently a freelance illustrator and gallery artist, 4 years into my professional career. I have a lot to offer and a lot to absorb from what others have to offer.

If you could choose to present one artwork, in one iconic museum which piece would it be and in what museum?
I’d have to say Bastien-Lepage’s “Joan of Arc.”

Why that piece and that location?
It’s absolutely sublime and worthwhile to see in person. Though not iconic, it would be an honor to showcase it in my hometown’s art museum. I reside in a city with a minimal art community and displaying the painting would tremendously escalate their appreciation for art.

What other artists past and present inspire you, who would you have dinner with?
Hayao Miyazaki, Gustav Klimt, James-Leon Gerome, & Arthur Rackham — the definition of artistic sophistication. Ultimately, I would like to dine with Klimt, pick at his brain a little, and figure out what his paintings truly meant. His treatment of intermingling figures and shapes inspires me to tap into surreal art. I admire his use of decorative shapes that are perfectly composed around his fair women. I find him well versed in every angle of art-making.

What would you consider to be one of your greatest accomplishments thus far?
Attending and graduating from a specialized art college.

My family came to the States with very little so money was a hardship when I was growing up. Having the opportunity to graduate from a notable, not to mention extremely expensive, school has been a priviledge. I have my parents to thank for that.

Where would you like to see your artwork and career move forward in the future?
Years down the line, I hope to collaborate with a hospital in producing art for their patients. I want to research and find ways to create imagery that somehow advocate well-being, mental nourishment, or simply distract the patient’s mind as they heal.

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