Artist Diana Nguyen rarely leaves her black and white world. The Toronto-based painter and comic showcases ink panels on her Instagram page. They are often minimal profile pieces involving human interactions with nature. Wind through hair, grass through toes. I discovered her work through musician Rhoda, who uses her artwork for every release. Rhoda is an artist who crafts ambient and instrumental work, so perhaps because of the style, I now find Nguyen's pieces of art to be soothing and calm. Tranquil, even. I reached out to the visual artist to ask a bit about her process and what she has lined up (a zine!) down the road.
How has 2017 been treating you so far?
Oh boy! 2017 has been challenging so far in both personal and work life. It definitely feels like a year of changes for me and it's been difficult to get back into my stride but I'm learning to take things one step at a time. Hopefully, the rest of 2017 will treat me a little kinder!
I found out about your art through Rhoda. Have you worked with other musicians as well?
I have worked with other musicians previous to Rhoda but nothing has really come into fruition or has been as consistent. It's been such a wonderful experience working with Rhoda and I'm a big fan of music too so I would love to have the opportunity to work with more musicians in the future.
Because I was introduced to your art through relaxed instrumentals, I now see your pieces as very calming, soothing. Is that an accurate representation of what you're portraying?
I can definitely see that. I try to make work that reflects everyday life. The interactions you have with people, the quiet painful moments but also small joyous ones as well. I hope that my work gives people comfort and that it elicits some sort of emotion when they look at it.
Do you create every day or does it come in waves?
Personally, I have to create everyday and so that could mean making small sketches or drawing actually fully formed pieces. Often times it's through the process of working that I find inspiration for new projects. It's also important for me to improve in drawing so that I can better portray what I'm trying to say or feel in my work.
Are most of your pieces one-off creations? Do you plan on creating a graphic novel or a book/zine some day?
Some are one-off's and others are part of small stories. I am actually in the process of making a small zine right now, but a big dream of mine is to create a graphic novel one day! I'm working on it!
What are some studio essentials? (instruments, notebooks, caffeine, etc.)
A good window to let natural light in, coffee is a must, books, a movie playing in the background, and a good supportive chair!!
Outside of drawing/painting, do you have any other hobbies/interests?
There are too many! Reading, photography, discovering new films, people, etc. I feel like I develop new hobbies every few months. I'm interested in learning! I just want to absorb everything.
What's the rest of the year looking like for you?
I have a few big illustration jobs that are coming out near the end of the year, new collaboration projects with other artists, a zine, and hoping to release some prints soon.
Do you have any advice for artists working on their craft?
Don't sit around waiting for jobs to fall into your lap. Update your website, send postcards to clients you want to work with, and just get your work out there. Most importantly, make work that makes you happy and that you enjoy!
Any final thoughts / words of wisdom? Thank you!
Don't be a jerk!