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Awkward beauty by Winnie Truong

Only a few more days until a big announcement between Booooooom and Poketo. We’ve never done something like this before. Watch out for it on Monday, folks!

In the meantime, let’s chat with Toronto-based artist Winnie Truong, whose follicle-filled design is part of our latest collaboration with Booooooom.

When you look through this 22-year-old artist’s work, you’ll find a collection of other similarly detailed works that often remind us of our long-forgotten adolescence (braces, blemishes and all). Despite that, Winnie’s work manages to show us that it really wasn’t so bad after all.

Could you tell us a little about who Winnie is?
A nice city girl with a zeal for art, parks and naptimes.

How did you discover your love for drawing?
Drawing has always been something I’ve done as preliminary work in my sketchbook. When I first started going to art school, I convinced myself that I wanted to be a painter only to later find that drawing was the thing I could handle with ease and that best suited what I wanted to express.

You work always sits at the borderlines of beauty and beastly, awkward and strangely graceful. Why is that?
The fascination comes from that tension between that attraction and repulsion the viewer experiences upon seeing the work… and people tend to have great opinions on one or the other. With every drawing I’m creating new viewpoint on that matter that I also have yet to resolve.

Your drawings look so detailed, how much time to do you spend on each?
The largest drawings take a few weeks to a month to complete. Sometimes I get really obsessive, and even after spraying fixative on the drawing, I am adding little marks and stray hairs here and there.

When drawing to that level of detail, what tip could you share with other people?
Patience. And hand exercises to avoid carpal tunnel.

Why hair as a subject?
Hair continues to fascinate me as a naturally occurring thing on our bodies that can be styled and adorn as expression of class, culture, gender, and even personality, and especially at its extremes. The act of drawing for me also has a direct connection to hair in that every mark translates into a single strand.

What about the gap teeth, braces and freckles?
My attraction to those attributes probably comes from the fact that we associate them with that adolescent stage in life when those things don’t seem beautiful, but rather as awkward and unwelcome features.

Are your drawings based on real people?
They aren’t based on anyone in particular. The faces are based loosely on people seen fashion and hair magazines. I take the models and their blank expressions as a platform and then the exaggerated hair and blemish stand in as extensions of personality and whim. Although I have a good idea of the final work will look like, I do let the hair and the strokes of colour develop intuitively on the way. Ultimately the portraits become anonymous projections of our feelings and notions towards the beautiful and grotesque, rather than of a specific likeness.

Tell us a little bit about your design for the “Afterlife” series.
I wanted to respond to the theme with an ambivalent point of view, in doing so I created the artwork using the changing states of ambiguous “life-forms” to tell a story through their disjointed relationships. I drew some not-quite-persons, and not-quite-creatures that I thought would illustrate both life and death simultaneously, so that the theme of “Life After Death” is open to individual interpretation.

Was it difficult to come up with your final illustration?
The hardest part was mulling over what theme meant to me personally.

When not drawing, what would you be doing?
Gallery hopping, bike riding, and noshing. And also doing the aforementioned with good friends.

What other things are you passionate about?
I’m currently addicted to watching Youtube snippets of ABC’s “What Would You Do?” with John Quinones.

What other things do you find awesome?
My cat, Berlin. The Wire. Midnight cycling.

What’s next for Winnie Truong?
I’m currently in studio working on new pieces for my upcoming solo show at ESP, opening this September in Toronto. I am also planning on releasing my first limited edition print in July, so look out for that!

Check out Winnie’s wallet at
Find more of Winnie on
Check out booooooom at

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