Artist Profile with Zarah Nguyen

 

I sit down with animation artist Zarah Nguyen shortly after the main-exhibition event of the Toronto Comic Arts Festival (TCAF).

... a celebration of comics and graphic novels and their creators, which culminates in a two-day exhibition and vendor fair featuring hundreds of comics creators from around the world.
— http://www.torontocomics.com/about-tcaf/
Vietnam born, Oakville Artist Zarah Nguyen. Black and white artist profile portrait.

Vietnam born, Oakville Artist Zarah Nguyen. Black and white artist profile portrait.

Born in Vietnam, currently in the final year of animation at Sheridan Collage and bound for Los Angeles to intern with animation studio Six Points Harness, we discuss Zarah's impressions of Toronto, the themes of her work, and her thoughts on year's main TCAF event.

 

 
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For those who might not be familiar, can you please tell me a bit about TCAF

TCAF is a place where independent coming book artists and illustrators gather to present their work, sell original art and to network.

It is a place particularly for young and emerging artists to develop an audience while expanding their own voice, to present journeys, explorations and themes which might not be spoken about elsewhere.

Not Safe for Work, in other words....

Definitely Not Safe For Work

Did you see anything that stood out to you in particular this year?

Absolutely. One graphic novel I ended picking up during the show is Canopy, by Karine Bernadou.

It’s an unconventional work dealing with tales of cruelty and growth, and the way the two are intertwined. A person growing up, who sees the people around her die and she herself betrayed in turn, all happening for no apparent reason.
Of course.

In your work so far, and in previous mentions, the theme of gender fluidity comes up more than once. Surely that must be relevant to a society which seems to increasingly acknowledge by name various gender-related identities.

It’s more nuanced than that, and I prefer to focus on gender fluidity rather than gender identity.

Gender fluidity, I conceive as a state of mind and body, a state of social and personal preference of body consciousness, given by anything at any time. It is an individual’s attitude towards the environment, those within it and themselves.

In that sense, labels or distinct identities become flags with which we may adorn ourselves...

But your work seeks to address something more profound than that?

Who is your work relevant to, or who do you hope to reach?

Millennials, naturally, is a common niche for me and for those attending TCAF. But really, I hope my work can reach out to anyone who can relate to experiences or some form or uncertainty or doubts.

Doubts with regards to what?

Their own identity. Their own society and those around them, versus their own unfiltered selves.

Tell me about Darling Martyr.

Darling talks about NSFW things, those gritty things that people tend to forget about; or feel embarrassed about that they hide them underneath a social persona.

When riding a wave of adrenaline it is easy to forget the moments of past experience, moments of doubts and of vulnerability which make us fully human.

A successful or initiated person gains a label, or many, and all the strings and expectations that come with that. I seek to show more than that, to reconnect or to show for the first time, the full range of human experience.

Darling Martyr is a first person account of "life as a foul minded squishy."
Fans, and those interested, can find new installments of the Darling Martyr series on Instagram, Facebook and tumblr

Until next time