Could you please introduce yourself and share any hidden talents of something most people wouldn’t know about you?
Well, hey! I’m Gillian Dinh, hand-lettering artist and designer born and raised on the South Coast region of Wollongong, NSW. In 2015 I launched my solo creative studio The Marker by Gillian Dinh. I’ve always been obsessed with the art of lettering and typography. Through-out my schooling years I was so pedantic about how my study notes looked and instead of doodling random scribbles, I often found myself trying to perfect my signature or replicating brand logos. So with my background in Visual Arts and Interior Design, I combined my love for both creative industries and began my lettering journey from there. I’ve also started to host my own workshops too which has been super fun to share my knowledge, tips and techniques to hand-lettering.
Hmmm, hidden talents… that’s a tough one! Does downing Fireball (Whisky) count? I’m pretty good at doing that haha Ok ok, let’s be serious here, I’m gonna have to go with cooking. I think that’s my hidden talent - I can proudly say I put on a good feed for my nearest and dearest and I’ve done enough grazing spreads now to basically be The Grazer by Gillian Dinh.
Where do you see yourself and your art headed in the next few years?
I’d like to take my Lettering art global. I aim to conduct workshops all over Australia and another bigger goal is to paint wall murals interstate and overseas. Being a guest speaker at a creative entrepreneurial or lettering event is high on the list too. Public speaking used to be a huge challenge for me, but I really love it now, and I just love helping people in general - there's nothing more fulfilling than being able to encourage someone else to create or take one step closer to their goals and dreams.
Have you been met with any challenges as an artist along the way? (Personally or professionally)
Of course. Being an artist comes with many challenges, but personally I’ve found the trap of comparison the most difficult to steer clear of. I pride myself on being quite mentally strong, but I’m human after all, and in the oversaturated world we live in, it’s a lot easier to say “just be you” or “focus on what you’re doing” than to actually follow through with that. The trick is to distinguish the difference between inspiring content and people as opposed to something or someone that creates a negative influence. Comparison in its best form will make a positive impact and inspire us to improve, but in its worst form, it can also overwhelm us as we let others’ achievements feed our own insecurities. The first step to overcoming this is knowing the difference and filtering what surrounds us.
What does body confidence mean to you? Is it something you’ve ever struggled with and why?
I’ve definitely struggled with body confidence in the past, and it occasionally creeps back into my life, but my mental state has strengthened and developed a lot. To me, body confidence isn’t about being a certain shape or size, it’s about feeling good from the inside out. I’ve come to realise that when I feel happy and healthy internally, I can confidently own my body and all that I am.
Can you please share a little about how you go into creating artwork and how you’d describe your style?
I’m intrigued by words left unsaid. And at the same time, all the words we tend to say but don’t quite understand the depth and power of. Each of my lettered quotes I choose for a reason. Some I keep to myself, or even disguise, whilst others I share. My process and craftsmanship follows the sentiment that everything we say and do has a meaning. All my stationery designs are bespoke; unique to each individual, client or couple. And in my murals, the large words or bold style sets the tone to evoke a strong message and create an impact to all who view it.
My style is organic, raw and a little edgy but I also like to maintain some delicacy. To keep it simple, but significant.
What’s your favourite part about your body and why?
My booty. Because I can rely on it to move, shake and drop, as soon as Destiny’s Child comes on.
What’s your idea of empowerment?
Empowerment is being courageous, brave and fearless enough to be unapologetically you. It’s celebrating every tiny victory, but also knowing that you still gotta work hard and be a genuine, kind fucking human along the way. It’s respecting and supporting yourself, as well as those around you.
What message do you have for those who are struggling with body confidence/self-love/weight or appearance issues? – What’s helped you in the past?
Focus on truly loving and respecting yourself. Look at all the positives you bring to others’, now give all that to yourself, because you deserve it.
Praise You isn’t just about raising awareness for eating disorders and celebrating body positivity – it’s also shining the light on female support in the creative community, in saying that, what does inclusivity and its importance mean to you?
Just please be genuine. You have the power to say and do whatever you want, but the least you can do is be kind, honest and genuine in your support and celebrations. I’m beyond grateful for the amount of support within our creative community, I count my lucky stars every day for the amount of love I share with fellow creatives. At the end of the day, I think it comes down to how important it is to you to have that support and how genuine you are. You attract your own tribe.
What inspires your style of art? What are the best ways you've found that have refined your practice?
My art is inspired by the wonderful people I choose to surround myself with. I’m inspired by their souls, our relationships, our conversations and shared experiences. I’ve found that really honing in on what feels most comfortable to me and being confident in embracing the natural imperfections of my lettering style is what has refined my art practice.
When it comes to female support – what comes to mind for you? Is it positive or negative?
In all honesty, I’m sitting on the fence with this one. I definitely feel as though we need more positivity when it comes to female support, just in general. This also comes back to the comparison trap and I find that a lot of people can get lost in it where they become quite competitive rather than focusing on what’s happening in their own lane. In saying this, there are a lot of incredible women out there going above and beyond to support one another and I fucking love it!
Do you have any mantras or words to live by?
Let them know. Because if you don’t, how will they ever know?
What advice what you give your 18-year-old self if you could?
That is not love, my darling. This is *points to self*
What’s been one of your most memorable jobs?
I thought it would be working with big brands, and trust me, working with The Horse or SABA was amazing. But in all honesty, my most memorable job would have to be my very first workshop. It was a huge sold out class of 30 students, eager to learn from me! What the heck, right?! All confident that I could teach them a thing or two. That was an amazing feeling - especially after all the hard work I put in to organise that workshop.
How do you keep up your creative momentum? Where do you look to for the drive to create?
I’ll be honest, the idea of working for somebody else doesn’t interest me one bit. I have a lot to say and a lot I want to share - time is ticking my loves. This is what drives me to keep up the momentum. I’m a very passionate person and I strongly believe that with passion and dedication you can conquer anything you set your mind to. I’m dedicated and driven because I don’t want to wake up and go to a 9 to 5 job that I don’t love. That’s 8 hours of every day which takes up almost 25% of each week (quickmafs) - why would I waste that precious time doing something I don’t LOVE doing? It’s that and my love for creating of course that keeps me going.
How has your work and practice developed over time?
I’ve become friends with change; it is not your enemy. I’ve learnt to embrace changes in my style, technique and tools and encourage experimentation because I’ve discovered that is the key to developing your own style in any artistry. If you don’t try it, how will you ever know?
What or who have been some of your main creative influences?
Everything influences me. In what way is the real question. With social media playing such a huge role in how we share our creations, I think it’s important to recognise who and what is making a positive or negative influence on your art. For example, I’m pretty selective with who I choose to follow as I only want to see it if it has a positive impact on me, because at the end of the day, that’ll influence my process and the overall outcome.
In saying this, I do have some creative influences who have stuck around for a while. CJ Hendry, Anderson .Paak, Beau Taplin, Gemma O’Brien and my dear friend Claire Foxton who is an incredibly talented and humble artist.
Who’s work are you currently loving right now and why?
Adam J. Kurtz and Timothy Goodman. They’re both perfect examples of artists who concentrate on what truly matters, which is the message they’re trying to communicate to their audience. It inspires me to truly focus on the importance behind the words rather than overkilling the magic with complex aesthetics.
As you’ve gotten older – how has your perception of your body and confidence changed?
100% - my mind has changed. I’ve become stronger and less fearful, therefore I’m more comfortable in my own skin.
Social media has been on a pretty interesting journey over the past few years - where do you see it now as opposed to two years ago?
I’m in a love hate relationship with social media. It’s been great for my business undoubtedly. As an artist and small business owner, it’s a great tool to engage with your audience and showcase your work. So I guess in that sense, social media is what you make of it really. However, admittedly, I still spend too much time on it. There was talk of Instagram hiding likes on posts - I’d actually like to see that. I’m happy for it to be visible as an analytical insight, because I think as a business owner it’s beneficial to know what your audience takes an interest to, but I don’t think its necessary for others to know and I really think it does more damage than good.
Do you think there should be more talk on body image specifically in the creative industry and what do you think is missing when it is in the spotlight?
Always. I think the conversation has opened up increasingly over the years and the future is looking promising, but I still think we’re lacking honesty and transparency.