Dan Nguyen – An Architect Makes the Leap to Fine Art
Dan Nguyen earned a Masters degree in architecture. He was passionate about his studies, but decided to make a change after he discovered that working in the field required him to be ‘strapped to a chair.’ When the creative freedom he experienced in graduate school evaporated, he switched gears to fine art. He describes his organic forms made from wood as “a stark contrast to the hard lines and rigid nature of architecture."
Nguyen’s sculptures have a primal elegance that brings to mind rings at Stonehenge, mysterious crop circles, and earthworks by Richard Serra. From a distance, they appear solid, but upon closer inspection, they reveal rippling textures and meticulous interlocking forms. After years of staring at a screen, he revels in the fact that they were made by hand.
My work is about flow, energy, and human connection. It is because of these elements that I have a heavy emphasis for creating everything by hand. In a world where technology is integrated into every part of our lives feeding us instant gratification, there is a beauty to being able to produce something heartfelt with my hands.
Nguyen’s process is so engrossing that a recent Instagram video of him constructing a circular piece for a client, who gave him complete artistic freedom in exchange for creating a ‘masterpiece,’ has garnered over 40,000 views. Despite giving up a promising career as an architect, he seems to be making excellent use of his background in 3-D design and spatial construction.
His take on surviving as an artist has both a practical and a philosophical side. Nguyen supports himself by creating valuable artworks for collectors and galleries, but his goal is to make sculptures that are accessible to a broader audience through museums and public art installations. By infusing his work with color, movement, and emotion, he strives to make each piece resonant and unique.
Creating art is about bringing something meaningful into this world. They are experiences. Stories. Feelings. Visual sensations. Things that make you ask the important questions about life. They're experiences that you can lose yourself inside. Whatever the intent, my hope is that my artwork can grace as many eyeballs as possible. I do not believe in making art accessible only to the rich or people of a certain background. Art is for the people.
Nguyen would prefer to spend the majority of his time working in the studio with headphones on. But he acknowledges how essential it is to connect with other artists, designers, gallerists, and collectors, and get himself out there in person and through social media. The leap of faith he took by switching to fine art after investing so much time and energy in architecture, and his ability to adapt those skills to suit his own creative ends, suggest he’s well on his way to forging his own path.
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Dan Nguyen — Artist Statement
The art that I create today, in essence, is a rebellion to my architectural background. I create organic forms out of wood that are in stark contrast to the hard lines and rigid nature of architecture. My work is about flow, energy, and human connection. It is because of these elements that I have a heavy emphasis for creating everything by hand.
In a world where technology is integrated into every part of our lives feeding us instant gratification, there is a beauty to being able to produce something heartfelt with my hands. This method requires enormous patience but also allows me to revisit my work daily. I massage the surface into place in a way that could not be experienced behind a computer screen. The energy can be felt when my soul is poured into my work.
Dan Nguyen – Grant Submission Work
Dan Nguyen – Artist Bio
I studied architecture at Roger Williams University in Rhode Island and graduated with my Masters in Architecture. I was extremely passionate about my studies during my time in architecture school. It had given me the license to be as wild and imaginative as possible. I was practically designing pig farms in the sky.
I found the working experience to be sharply different from my studies. The work required me to be strapped down to a computer chair drawing construction documents and rearranging condo layouts. The imagination and passion that I had experienced in school was no longer present in my life so I decided that I needed a creative outlet.
Dan Nguyen on the Web And Social Media
Here is where to find out more about Dan on the web and social media:
About the Artist of the Day Series
All artworks have been published with permission of the artist. Our "Artist of the Day" series is a regular feature highlighting artworks from the 100's of grant applications we receive. The "Not Real Art Grant" is an annual award designed to empower the careers of contemporary artists, and this is one way we honor all entries we receive. Find out more about the grant program here.