An interview with Tran Nguyen…

“Yoke” / 12×15″

An interview with Tran Nguyen
Tran Nguyen is a Vietnamese illustrator and painter specializing in fantastical and surrealistic imageries. In her work, she frequently visits themes that evoke introspection, combining the world of illustration and art therapy. Tran is fascinated with creating imagery that can be used as a psycho-therapeutic support vehicle. Based in Savannah, Georgia, she enjoys the aesthetics of nature and the out-doors which is commonly incorporated into her work. She is currently enrolled at the Savannah College of Art and Design where she will graduate with a B.F.A in illustration.
Artist statement for ‘Portraits Of The Unknown’:
My current body of work consists of traditionally executed illustrations based on surrealism. “Portraits of the Unknown” focuses on melancholy as an aesthetic emotion that evokes calmness, allowing one to reflect. I believe exposure to such imagery is a therapeutic vehicle for individuals in need of alleviation. It is my intent for the viewer to find a sense of self-connection with the image, in turn, foster recollection and well-being. To mirror the emotion’s complex traits, highly rendered figures are juxtaposed with graphic forms. As for media, I enjoy working with graphite, color pencils, and light washes of acrylics. This media is most crucial because of its subtleness and precision.The overall mood I try to convey is one that best illustrates a dream. I find that there’s little pleasure in drawing within the limitations of reality. Illustrating dreams and the unknown is what stimulates the mind. Like Francis Bacon has stated, the “job of the artist is always to deepen the mystery.”The intent of my work is to create a place that easily invites reflection, where the viewer can recollect their own memories relevant to the image. This uplifting yet somewhat solemn feeling makes, what I believe, melancholy most astonishing. This series of work has furthered my endeavors in creating imagery that can be used as a mean of psycho-therapeutic support. I see art is a powerful tool that motivates others to pursue their life endeavors. Thus, my primary focus as an artist is to illustrate visuals that will educate, encourage, and inspire others who have yet to find their own purpose.

“If Time Progresses Without Me” process sketch

Please talk a lil’ bit about the general idea/vibe behind your new series of works for ‘Portraits Of The Unknown’?
Portraits of the Unknown explores the countless incidents of melancholy that individuals, such as ourselves, may encounter in daily life. Whether it be the inevitable departing from a dear friend or lover, our innate yearning to hold onto youth, or the manners of losing ourselves in the chaos of uncertainty, it focuses on the positive as well as negative aspects of heavyhearted occurrences. In summation, the series is intended to unveil an eerie realm of glum that contrastingly evokes feelings of nostalgia, contemplation, and hope.

You were born in Vietnam and currently reside in Savannah, Georgia where you are finishing up classes at The Savannah College of Art & Design. What made you choose Savannah? What are your plans for after graduation?

Besides the alluring scenery, architectural designs, and art scene, Savannah has some of the darnest awesome-looking dogs. I mean, man, they know how to groom their dogs here. Sometimes, better than themselves. As for graduation, following it is a desperate search for employment due to the thousands of dollars I accumulated in the past three years at SCAD. Would you like to hire me?

“If Time Progresses Without Me” progress shot

What’s your earliest memory involving art or creating art?
It was a horrific drawing of my mom with the letter “w” forming the curvature of her boobs.

“If Time Progresses Without Me” / 12.5×16.5″

For those new to your work, can you give us a lil’ background on where you are aiming to take your work and what you hope viewers gain from it?
I’ve always been particularly interested in therapeutic imagery. I think art can be used to better lives rather than pure aesthetic purposes. As a person and as an artist, being able to create something that can bring about well-being and contentment is all that matters. Life is stressful enough, so I guess you could say my work could serve as one of those Tempur-Pedic beds.

“As I Lay Here, Dying” / 10.5 x 8.5″

Please tell us a lil’ something about yourself that someone would never guess in their wildest dreams.
I’m quite the closet geek: Video games, Dance Dance Revolution, Magic: The Gathering, Street Fighter, Harry Potter, various Anime, Tetris, etc. I despise people that take things for granted. They make me want to hadouken them into the next Street Fighter generation. Oh, and I’ve eaten chicken poop before.

“For The Lost and Unfound” process sketch

Do you listen to music while painting/drawing? If so, do you have a current favorite that inspires?
Of course. No matter what mood I’m in, I always find my way back to Augustana, Keane, and Coldplay. It’s feel-good music that makes me feel like I’m riding on a Care Bear cloud.

“For The Lost and Unfound” / 13×17.5″

Are you reading anything right now?
Where the Wild Things Are. I’m very much looking forward to the movie adaptation.

“Furiae” / 16×10.5″

When are you most productive / when do you normally work on art?
Because I love the outdoors, I can’t bare to spend my days inside unless I have to. Thus, my mind schemes the best around the early AMs. Coffee around 5pm, then work, bed at 4am, then a torturing wake-up for 8am classes.

“Hello and Goodbye Is What They Said” progress shot

Favorite artist (living or dead) and what makes them special to you? Biggest overall influence?
It’s a tug-o-war between Gustav Klimt and my older brother. Though my brother didn’t pursue an artistic degree, he introduced as well as taught me the art of image-making. Later on in my early years of education, I stumbled upon Klimt’s work. His juxtaposition between surrealistic figures and vibrant shapes are just stunning.

“Hello and Goodbye Is What They Said” process sketch

We are very much looking forward to hosting your debut Los Angeles solo show next year. What have you got coming up in the meantime in terms of shows after your small showing with us this June?

I haven’t got much lined up…yet. hint hint.

“Hello and Goodbye Is What They Said” / 13.5×10.5″

What are you doing right after this interview?
Awaiting the final diagnosis of my computer, who decided to abruptly end our three-year relationship the other day…and he wouldn’t give back any of my belongings either.

“Wrath In Disguise” / 8.75×18″
Check out Tran’s blog here.

Sneak Peek at ‘Portraits of the Unknown’:
View the work from ‘Portraits of the Unknown’:
If you see something you like from the show, please shoot us an e-mail to and we’ll follow up asap.
Opening Reception: Fri, June 12th 7-11PM
4210 Santa Monica Blvd. (near Sunset Junction) in Los Angeles

One thought on “An interview with Tran Nguyen…”

  1. i'll be at the show tonight, it's going to be excellent, but like a dummy i forgot my camera home and wont be able to take any flicks 🙁

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