Liana Jegers and Clay Hickson’s monthly newspaper The Smudge is quickly becoming one of our most valued sources for new illustrators. When someone we’re unfamiliar with graces its cover or is nestled inside, we huddle round, wondering who on earth they are and how we can find out as much as possible about them immediately. This was, and still is, the case for Portland-based illustrator Lan Truong.
Each of Lan’s illustrations usually encompass one, or all four of the following things that she purposefully likes to include. They’re weird, but also very beautiful, the type of illustration that could be on a card to your mum, or sit nicely in some crazy cult followed comic. They’re also always a little witty and definitely fun, like a goldfish happily swimming in a perfume bottle. The inspiration references she lists give you a feel for what sort of person she is, as well as an illustrator. From John Alcorn, Naiad and Walter Einsel to Joan Cornellá or Eleanor Davis, “I find their work to be witty and funny,” she explains, “and sometimes slightly disturbing.” When illustrating Lan turns to children’s colouring books for inspiration, as well as clip art books, and of course, things she finds on the internet.
This aesthetic and narrative Lan has crafted means her client list is varied. From newspapers, magazines, books and retailers, she’s got them all under her belt. Able to illustrate smaller motifs but also editorial accompaniment drawings, Lan’s portfolio mirrors her creative career. Originally working at a small design studio in Brooklyn she created “logos, branding and identity systems,” with a team of other designers. In her spare time, however, Lan’s inbox becomes growingly full with illustration commissions: “Outside of the design studio, I spent my nights and weekends doing freelance illustration work,” she tells us. “I began to feel burned out between the design studio and my freelance illustration work in the summer of 2015, and I wanted to step away from design for a bit to focus more of my time on illustration. I was also going through some personal things and I was ready for a change.” Lan left the design studio in 2015 to become her own boss, and a boss of illustration too.
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