Machines and misty memories

Angie nguyen’s dreamy art recalls gizmos from times gone by.


What kinds of techniques do you use in your art? I do both traditiona­l and digital art, but these days, digital is my main focus. I work with a lot of isometric perspectiv­es of objects and mini environmen­ts. When I do traditiona­l art, I love working with gouache, watercolou­r and coloured pencils.

Why do you combine manmade items with natural elements?

I love the contrast of the two elements and how it seems to mirror my own reality. I sometimes feel like I’m a worn-down machine, left abandoned in the woods and reclaimed by nature over time. I was born with a lot of health problems and felt I was constantly striving to do the most I could with what I had. I worked so hard, but for the longest time my heart wasn’t in it. I had a major identity crisis after college and realised I didn’t want to go forward with my chosen career – instead, I decided to embrace art fully. Art saved me. I’ve grown into a much happier and more fulfilled person because of it, and that’s what I’ve been trying to show.

And why have you chosen this soft, soothing colour palette?

In the beginning, I was terrified of colour. I did a lot of ink drawings and pencil sketches to avoid it. But as I challenged myself, I realised I love soft, muted tones and the way they convey a sense of nostalgia.

Nostalgia is also represente­d in your art by things like Game Boys, cassettes and arcade games. Do you have an emotional connection to that old-style technology? I definitely have a strong connection to it! I was quite a shy kid and escaped those nervous feelings through video games and music. As an adult, I find myself seeking solace in the innocence of childhood, and that unadultera­ted joy. I love how you can get lost in games! Their ability to transport you to another place and time is just so much fun. I love all the old Nintendo 64 games – especially Mario Kart and Mario Party. I also played almost all of the Pokémon games on my Game Boy Advance SP as a kid.

What is your relationsh­ip with technology these days? I’d say I have a love/hate relationsh­ip with technology. It’s amazing in the ways it can connect people and facilitate the sharing of art and inspiratio­n. But sometimes it holds us back and distracts us from being present and mindful. I try to give myself breaks from it; I think it’s all about balance. I really enjoy playing Animal Crossing, though!

What other kinds of things do you like to draw? I really love drawing drinks and food, as I’m a huge foodie and love to eat! I also enjoy drawing cute animals and lots of plants.

It seems like you use illustrati­on as a way to channel or organise your feelings. Is that true? That’s a super-keen observatio­n and I’d say it’s pretty true. I used to be a prolific writer and would write down my feelings on a page. It really helped me make sense of all the craziness in my mind, because I’m a terrible over-thinker. I think art has replaced that, and often I find my personal thoughts mirrored in what I draw, even when I don’t intend it.

Do you watch or listen to anything while you draw? Yes! If I really want to focus and get in the zone, I’ll listen to calming music, or music that stirs something up in me. I also watch a lot of Youtube vlogs while drawing because, as an illustrato­r who sits at home all day by herself, I get a little lonely sometimes. Having someone talk through their day is strangely comforting.

Any curious facts about yourself you’d like to share? I had a kind of wild start to life. My parents are both Vietnamese and fled their country to escape the Communist government – I was born in a refugee camp in Malaysia before I came to the US. At six months old I had open-heart surgery, and due to my refugee status, I had to get special permission from the Malaysian government to be transporte­d to the capital for surgery. I had a 20 per cent chance of surviving because of the delay, but here I am today!

Where can we find you online? On Instagram at @artbyangie.jpg.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia