“Your perspective is unique and therefore it is beautiful.”

“Your perspective is unique and therefore it is beautiful.”

Maria Van Nguyen × Photographer & Designer × Oslo, Norway

Maria Van Nguyen is a former New Yorker living and working in Oslo. She works across the fields of design and photography, and has a predilection for documenting quiet scenes. Without further ado...

RE: HER METAMORPHOSIS

I capture quiet scenes in visuals and illustrations. My main focus is analog photography. 

I have a background in Fashion Design with experience at Uniqlo in Tokyo and The Row in New York. I decided to change my path and have done work as an Art Director. But now I focus on analog photography and I make illustrations on the side.

It has been natural for me to shift between these creative fields, and as an artist it has made sense to explore my vision in various settings to develop and challenge myself. 

RE: MOVING FROM BROOKLYN TO OSLO

These are two great but very different environments where one is colorful and creative, and the other is calm and quiet.

The stillness in Oslo has been a good place to focus and gather my thoughts.

Photograph taken by Maria van Nguyen

I think my work has become more defined, but that has to do with self-discovery through time more than surrounding.

I work less now as I deliberately want to make more time for relationships, which was one of the main reasons I left Brooklyn.

RE: WHAT SHE MISSES

I miss the diversity.

I miss the cultures, strong personalities, voices and opinions.

I miss the honesty and kindness, just from strangers passing by.

I miss the creativity.

The constant sources of inspiration.

The sense of ambitions, dreams and courage.

I really miss the life and energy of the city.

It is always alive and thriving.

There’s nothing I don’t miss!

RE: SUSTAINABILITY AND ART

With all creative work that I do, I always want the underlying message to speak of sustainability, conscious living or how we’re all connected.

It’s not necessarily apparent so when you see it, you’ll appreciate it more.

Visually, I’m drawn to subtlety and simplicity as it creates room for emotion and imagination. 

Photograph taken by Maria Van Nguyen

RE: A FAVORITE ESCAPE

In daily life, my favorite escape is the stillness I find in meditation.

In terms of geographical escape, I feel at home in Japan.

How is there so much beauty in the most mundane scenes?

I’m filled with admiration for their culture and lifestyle, and their respect and kindness.

RE: WHO WE SHOULD BE PAYING ATTENTION TO

Cody Cobb

Emotional landscape photography.

Woshibai

Illustrations made in black and white, with simple lines depicting everyday, open-ended short comics. Both clever and poetic.

RE: HER FAVORITE RECENT PURCHASE

A book: Midnight and Noon by Josef Albers

I loan books from the library, and never really purchased books until recently. 

I’m slowly gathering a little collection now.

Photograph of the Caldera Table taken by Maria Van Nguyen

RE: HER IDEAL WORKING ENVIRONMENT

When the place is clean and neat, I’m ready to focus on my work.

I’m sensitive about sounds and surroundings so it feels refreshing to work in a calm space. Natural light is important for me as well — the warmth and energy from the sun is an instant inspiration.

RE: WHAT DRIVES HER CREATIVE THINKING

I’m inspired by people who are true to themselves.

What is more vulnerable and beautiful than people daring to be who they are, fully.

I feel most creative whenever I’m able to do work that aligns with my personal values and challenges my skills. Ideas will keep coming while time flies by and it’s just joy and love of creating.

RE: WHAT SHE LOOKS TO CREATE

Artwork that creates emotion and empathy with the viewer. Artwork that act as reminders for living mindfully, with nature and each other.

Photograph of the Cleo Chair taken by Maria Van Nguyen

RE: ADVICE FOR DESIGNERS STARTING OUT

Focus on yourself and what you are doing, then give it your all.

Your perspective is unique and therefore it is beautiful.

Your love for what you are creating will connect you with the right people and the right moments to take you further.

RE: PERSONAL GROWTH

Not really thinking about growth. Living in the now.