Studio Sunday: Huy Lam

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We hope that you’re enjoying your weekend! Here’s a new Studio Sunday feature with Huy Lam, who was selected for issue 15 and is also one of the invited artists for PxP Contemporary’s first exhibition! Read on to learn more about his work and process, then don’t forget to check out his available sculptures in “Pilot”.

Huy Lam is a multi-disciplinary artist. He was an aspiring painter when he was young but fell in love with photography when he was introduced to the darkroom in high school. After graduating from the Humber College Photography Program, he spent several years working as an assistant and traveled around the world honing his skills while shooting personal projects. Huy then worked as a professional photographer for over a decade in commercial advertising and has recently started to explore other creative outlets along with his photography work. Some of this includes his original love for painting and drawing, but his new passion is working with wood, for its natural, diverse, and malleable qualities. With the focus on employing reclaimed or recycled materials, his work includes custom furniture, lighting, and sculptures.

Statement

Touching the Void

The unexpected intersections of our lives have always fascinated me, how our disparate trajectories collide and create causal shockwaves across time and space. Although linearity exists neither in life nor in nature, the human mind nonetheless attempts to impose perfection upon an imperfect world. This series of wood sculptures with metal inlays explores that paradoxical impulse, as stark lines penetrate the natural flow of wood grain in an attempt to bring order to a random milieu. Just as I have carved out these paths in wood, collectively we strive to make our mark by blazing bright trails in a dark, dynamic universe. 

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How did you first become interested in art and can you explain a bit of how it led you to the work you create today?

I've been told by grade school friends that I use to draw pictures and give it to them as gifts. We immigrated to Canada when I was 9 years old and because I didn't know any english, I think I did this as a way to communicate and make friends. I've always wanted to be a painter and even took private oil painting classes with a tutor in my early teens but got into photography when my brother bought a camera. My passion for photography eventually led me to a career as a professional photographer, something I still do a little bit of today. But drawing and painting was always close and I've always had an interest in making things with my hands, whether that was diorama models or woodworking. The work I am doing today is a result of wanting to explore other ways to express ideas and using different materials like wood which is such a malleable and fun material to work with.

Describe your current studio or working area. What is most important about it or one thing that you definitely need in your creative space?

Like most major cities in NA where real estate and studio spaces are very expensive, my current studio is in my parents garage about an hours drive outside Toronto. It's working out really nicely because my parents are aging and this allows me to visit them more but most importantly, the act of preparing to go to the studio puts my mind and intentions into a creative space. That intention to create and enjoy the process is so fulfilling and that physical separation from city life means I have very little distractions. The result is usually very productive and when I am back in the city, I get inspired and work on ideas through drawing and doodling.

Tell us about the inspiration behind your work.

Besides what I mentioned before, I would also add, in terms of living everyday life, the process of having an idea or goal and going through the process of turning that idea into reality is pretty interesting. It seems like a linear line, a step by step process and sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn't but most of the time, it's rarely straight forward. It's a weird paradox because we do need some sort of direction but when does the planning become over thinking or procrastination? I think this back and forth is a moving target and we have to adjust our planning for each situation and so my work, the shiny lines are a metaphor of us trying to carve our way into a dynamic shifting world.

What is your process like?

My process is really about trying to bring my inspiration into practice. I do a lot of drawings and doodling and when I have a composition or idea I really like, I want to try and bring it into reality. By the time I get into the studio, I have a general direction as to what I want to create but I leave plenty of room for the process and I really try to enjoy the experience.

What one piece of creative or business advice would you give to your younger self?

This may sound funny because it doesn't really answer the question directly but my advice to my younger self is, when your dentist calls you for a check-up, call them back right away and make an appointment! It's really about dealing with things that needs attending to because avoiding the dentist does not make the situation better over time, ever! In fact it gets exponentially worse in the time spent, money wasted, the pain that could've been avoided and stress. And so I truly believe that by reducing and minimizing these "distractions" our creative juices will inevitably bubble up.