I am not artistically savvy; in fact, my pencil-to-paper skills go as far as drawing stick people…and even that is a bit for a stretch. Therefore, being able to sit down and get the 411 from 416 artist gal Winnie Truong was truly an honor.
Working out of a studio space shared with one other artist, Winnie spends over forty hours a week creating large-scale illustrations – strand-by-strand. Literally. Focusing on making pieces that “challenge our ideas of beauty and discomfort”, this young artist definitely has a distinct aesthetic – but she is focused on constantly expanding her talents. Although it wasn’t until three years after her post-secondary graduation that she realized she could be self-sufficient as an artist, she has since spent her days devoting her time into something meaningful, and through hard work and patience, she has managed to transition her talent into a full-time career.
Photographer: Jackie Beale | Video shot by: Olivia Genovese | Video edited by: Rosanna Peng | Hair + Makeup: Eman @ Plutino | Stylist: Jennifer Cheng
Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Winnie Truong and I’m an artist.
What age did you actually start drawing?
I’ve been drawing ever since I was very young. My mom would give me a pad of just binder paper and I would go at it, so it’s always just something I’ve been doing.
Visually and conceptually, your body of work is really cohesive. What inspired you to have a reoccurring theme?
In my work I mostly draw hair. It’s just a natural translation of the kind of drawn line I do in my sketchbook anyway.
How do you conceptualize your work?
I pretty much come up with an idea from something I’ve seen or something I’ve heard. I work a lot from magazines – hair magazines, specifically. I just do little sketches and if I like the sketch, I’ll turn it into a study and from there, I work from my imagination and go onto a big piece.
Since your work is so detail-oriented, what motivates you to finish a piece (especially your large-scale pieces) from start to finish?
Well it’s a really labor-intensive and meditative process, so it’s really easy to kind of lose yourself in this small gesture of line work. Apart from that, there’s a lot of audio books and podcasts involved! Hours and hours of which kind of allow me to stay in one place and have my brain in one place and my body being apart of the work.
What was the moment that you realized you could be self-sufficient as an artist?
I think I decided three years after I finished school. I’ve always had a day job but at a certain point it was necessary, because I was booking enough shows at that time that I may as well. I wasn’t really surviving off of a part-time job and it just allowed me to invest that much more time into doing something more meaningful that I love.
What is one of the biggest challenges that you face as an artist?
The biggest challenge is just staying motivated because for someone who works on full time at this, just to get yourself out of the house and go to the studio when you don’t have anyone telling you to do it is the hardest thing.
What is the most satisfying feeling about finishing a piece?
Seeing how different it is from the way you may have articulated it in your imagination, because it never ends up being what I thought it could be – it always exceeds my expectations!
What opportunities have you gotten as a result of your work?
I’ve been able to do a lot of commissions and illustrations outside of just showing in a gallery. It’s nice to be approached at shows from people who have seen the work from different places and being able to hear that feedback.
You’re doing a very repetitive job that requires a lot of patience and dedication, do you ever feel like you just have to drop everything and run away for a minute?
Yes! The nature of what I do is very competitive and requires a lot of concentration, so in order to curve that, I run errands during the day and since my studio is in the heart of Toronto, I kind of take time out of the day to maybe do some shopping, go to galleries and take a breather.
Aside from work, what are your interests and hobbies?
My hobbies are still kind of drawing on my own terms, not necessarily filling a certain theme I’m working on. Sort of just doodling when I’m out and about, or at a coffee shop. And I enjoy riding my bike through the city and going to gallery openings.
What’s one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
One thing people would be surprised to know about me is that I’ve never done laundry ever in my life… I don’t know how!
Is art potentially what you see yourself doing for a while?
Art is definitely something I plan on doing for a long time. It’s always been a part of my life at some capacity, and for me, I know it’s an ever-evolving process. In a month it might not be drawing (although I most likely will be), but a year from now? Who knows where it will take me.
Do you have any advice for young artists that you’d like to share?
My advice for young artists is just to keep making work! Find a space that you can dedicate to doing what you love and kind of allocate whatever extra time you have outside of day job or school and just work.
FACE:Clean & Clear® Hydrating Gel Moisturizer, Lise Watier Blush Creme Satin in Rose Eden
LIPS: Make Up For Ever Aqua Lip Waterproof Lip Liner Pencil #16 Fuchsia, Make Up For Ever Aqua Rouge Waterproof Liquid Lip Color #20 Baby Pink
EYES: Benefit Cosmetics They’re Real Mascara, Benefit Cosmetics Gimme Brow in med/deep
All art by Winnie Truong.