Gold in Book Design 2019

Imaginary Trails and Design Philosophy with Evelyn Tran

Creative Designer

by Christina Lauren | 15 Jan 2020

Creative Designer Evelyn Tran defines work as a true extension of oneself. The Sydney-based designer couples this outlook with the cohesion of her Eastern and Western roots to characterize who she is as both individual and artist. When asked how Tran’s upbringing correlates with her Australian home-base, she implies that balance is key. Tran says: “As an Australian designer of Chinese-Vietnamese descent, creating a harmonious balance between Eastern and Western elements within my work is of utmost importance. It’s about bringing your own culture, values, beliefs—the root of who you are—and channelling that into your work,” she says.

“Growing up in a very traditional Asian household meant there were many things that were already assumed and expected as the norm of how things should work and how life should be,” Tran continues. “But humans are born curious and are always searching for their reason and passion in life. Sometimes, although logic solves the problem, it is only through a creative lens that we can create meaningful solutions that form an emotional connection to people. Design was my answer to that,” she says. With a clear passion for her work, the artist bridges a gap between her career and staying grounded, while musing that her outlets may seem predictable. “Can I be typical and say travelling? I really do believe that the more you travel, the more you see and observe and [become] a part of, the fuller your heart is,” the artist states, when asked about passions independent of work.

Having lived among multiple walks of life gave Tran a unique experience many miss out on. With regard to travel, she says, “It gives you direct insight into different cultures, what works well in their parts of the world, what doesn’t, and what you can take back into your own life. For me, travelling always brings back a little something that influences my design work and I think that’s important that everything you experience in the world shape your views and understanding more. When your passion for work is also something you live for every day, it ceases to feel like work; I think that’s something special,” she states. Yet if a clear mind isn’t brought on via a boarding pass, sometimes even a simple walk will suffice. When asked how the creative designer stays innovative under pressure, she says: “That’s a hard one to crack. I’m not too sure anyone really has a solution to this, no matter what field they’re in, even if they appear to be composed! It’s no solution, but sometimes just dropping everything and going for a walk or doing anything but what you’re meant to be [doing] really helps,” she says.

Travel and immersion into new cultures instil inner peace, but according to the artist, “everything” influences her creative thought process. “Everything around me—people, the latest trends, current world issues. I think it’s crucial to always be evolving and always keeping up with what’s happening around you, in order to think for and create better creative solutions for the world we live in,” she says. To stay informed on the latest design trends, Tran turns to “Books, design blogs [and] Instagram are probably the go-to. But sometimes I like to look at past trends as well. It’s great to know what’s in currently, but it’s also good to try to break away from what everyone’s doing and finding your own niche.” Surrounding sights and objects aren’t her only influences, for according to the designer, “The people who have the biggest influence would probably be my family and friends. Being in touch with the people around you and getting to hear their insights sometimes spark ideas for new projects. It makes your heart full knowing that the creative solutions you come up with helps those around you.”

In the fast-paced race of design, it’s not all fun and games, however. Client criticism can be harsh, but Tran handles any reaction like a true professional. She says, “Perception is a really important factor - I like to think of it more as constructive feedback. Sometimes, when you are very involved in your project things could go amiss or you might become a little overprotective of it - which is normal, as it’s literally your baby. But, it’s important to take a step back and mindfully listen to the feedback, see what’s working, what isn’t and then come to a mutual solution together with your client.” While this mentality is important, Tran clarifies her thought-process further: “It’s about creating that mutual respect for each other and forming a level of trust in the client-designer relationship from the very beginning; [this] can help strengthen their trust and understanding of your design decisions,” the designer says. It takes courage to convince a consumer to trust one’s better judgement, and to do so the artist follows a simple piece of advice, namely, “Creativity takes courage,” as professed by the famed Henry Matisse, and later passed down to Tran from an influential teacher. This mantra can be applied to the process of design as well as the creator/client relationship as a whole.

For Tran’s technical approach, she turns to Adobe Suite as a lifeline. “We’re all moving towards a more digital-centred space,” she says, “However, nothing beats the traditional pen, ink and brush to paper. There’s just something very fresh and alive about taking your work offline and getting into the nitty gritty without a computer. When it comes to her philosophical style, Tran says: “Design is first and foremost, an emotional connection to people. Second to that is the story it is telling and it’s all encompassing beauty brought about by its aesthetics. But, there is also love. The love for all things beautiful, fuelling the heart of every designer.” This makes sense, considering the very thing she enjoys most is the “joy and benefits it brings to people - it is always about the people and the world I design for,” Tran tells us. What can we hope to see from Tran in the future? “Mastering Procreate is one of my short-term goals… [also] I’m on the road to learning more about global tech trends and affairs, as well as how different cultures approach them. Perhaps, it can open a new door for the design industry.”

To learn more about the designer check out or visit Instagram: @imaginarytrails.

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