An interview with Tran Nguyen

Tran Nguyen 'Living Parallel To An Infectious Pigment' - colored pencil and acrylic washes on Rives BFK paper - 13x17 inches (2011)

Tran Nguyen was born in 1987 in Vietnam, and raised in Augusta, Georgia where she attended the Savannah College of Art and Design. In 2009 Tran received a BFA in Illustration from the University and still calls Georgia home. Tran is fascinated with creating work that can be used as a sort of psycho-therapeutic support vehicle, exploring the mind’s surreal dreamscapes and subconscious desires. Her delicate work is greatly inspired by the Art Nouveau period and is created with colored pencil, graphite and thin glazes of highly diluted acrylic paint all in a muted palette that perfectly showcases her romanticized subject matter.

An interview with Tran Nguyen

Please tell us a lil’ bit about yourself and what you hope to communicate through your work.
My name is Tran, pronounced “tron” (like the movie). I was born in Vietnam and raised in Georgia, where I studied illustration at the Savannah College of Art and Design. In college, I came across an art therapy book titled ‘Art and Soul‘ by Bruce Moon and it conceptually changed the direction of my work for the better. Helping me understand the psychological aspect of art, I’ve become more and more intrigued by therapeutic imagery – art for and by the mind and spirit.

Can you share a lil’ bit about the themes behind your new body of work?
‘The Synapse Between Here and There’ further develops the concept behind my previous show ‘Nurturing the Uneased Soul’. But rather than focusing on the universal ordeals in life, I’ve laid emphasis on the condition of the mind. By definition, a synapse is “the region at which a nervous impulse passes from one neuron (here) to another (there).” I believe this is where we find the raw and visceral reactions of our psyche. In my new body of work, each painting metaphorically represents the mind in response to a particular circumstance. It’s giving form to a psychological impulse, with a splash of surrealism and a pint of fantasy.

When did you know you wanted to follow the path of being a full-time artist?
It was pretty abrupt. One day, during my senior year in high school, it just clicked. I told myself to be confident, pursue something far-fetched, and go be an artist.

What fuels you to keep creating?
When I see or hear about my loved ones going through hardship, I naturally want to lend a helping hand. Of course, I’m not very good with words so instead, I illustrate their troubles. I know there’s always someone else dealing with the same tribulations so it’s my hope that the art I create can help others on a grand scale.

Please describe your dream project if time and money were not issues.
When I’m older, I want to dedicate 5 years of my artistic life to create art that will benefit the patients and staff of a hospital. I’d spend at least 1 year in researching regular patients, janitors, nurses, and doctors, to find out what they interpret as visually therapeutic. At the end of the 5 years, I’ll hang the paintings in the recovering rooms. If they are deemed successful in helping patients and staff members by fostering well-being, mental nourishment, or simply distracts their mind as they heal physically then I’ll continue the practice in other hospitals. If deemed unsuccessful, then I’m still nowhere near where I want to be.

Favorite item in your studio?
My signed copy of “The Art of Yoshitaka Amano: Hiten.” It’s my reservoir of inspiration, especially when I hit rock-bottom and sucking.

Is there anyone in particular, artist or otherwise, that you’d like to give a shout out to here?
I’d love to extend my gratitude to John Foerster, a SCAD professor and mentor, who’s really helped me along my career. And as always, the unconditional support from my family/friends for dealing with the temper tantrums/hell I’ve given them from stress in creating this new body of work.

Any shows or special projects coming up after your exhibit with us here at Thinkspace you would like to mention?
Though details haven’t been disclosed, I’m participating in a unique exhibition called ‘School Open House‘. The concept behind the show is to reinterpret an old childhood drawing and depict it in our current style. I think that’s a very, very charming idea.

Tran Nguyen 'Searching For An Uncharted Hypotenuse' - colored pencil and acrylic washes on Rives BFK paper - 12x14 inches (2011)

Take a look at the digital preview for Tran’s show here:

Tran Nguyen ‘The Synapse Between Here and There’

Reception with the artist:
TONIGHT – Sat, July 16th 5-8PM

Exhibition Runs: July 16th – August 6th

Thinkspace / 6009 Washington Blvd. in Culver City, CA /

Leave a Comment Below:

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.