Sticker Book Artist Interview: Wednesday Tran
In celebration of our recently launched Women’s Empowerment Sticker Book, we are featuring the six talented female artists who contributed their gifts to make these stickers come alive.
We sat down with artist and Passion Planner Creative Associate Wednesday Tran to find out the inspiration behind her designs and artwork. Find her contributions in the Women’s Empowerment Sticker Book or any of the Women’s Empowerment Sticker Packs.
Tell us a bit about yourself. How did you get into your art initially?
I look back at my early relationship with art fondly. Art taught me a lot about purpose and curiosity—creating art was my first passion and I owe everything I have today to these formative years.
When I was in elementary school, I was really shy and quiet so I learned how to draw and fold origami animals to pass time in between my classes. My dad took me to the library every Friday afternoon so I could copy from the “how to draw” books. I distinctly remember only wanting to read the books about arts and crafts. I don’t remember exactly why I was so drawn to that genre specifically, but I felt like there were never enough books to satiate my hunger to learn about practicing art.
I obsessed over learning digital art when I was in middle school. I would spend hours hunched over my drawing tablet staring at the crude anime drawings made on Photoshop CS4 (and I wondered why I had back pain?). I wanted to be a comic book illustrator more than anything else in the world.
But somewhere along the way, my spark kind of faded and I wanted to try all these other career paths. I wanted to become a pharmacist at age 17, then a marketing specialist at age 19, then a congresswoman at age 21 (!!), and then a high school math teacher at age 22. I’ve worked and interned at all sorts of places, hoping to find a job that would fulfill my need to support my family and my passion to help others. I went through multiple identity crises, financial roadblocks, and found myself at the most confusing and lonely crossroad I had ever been. In trying to find myself in everything, I lost the most important part of myself: my creative spirit.
Post college graduation, I decided to take a gap year to rediscover my inner artist. And today, two years after I graduated with a degree in economics, I am lucky enough to call myself a Creative Associate at Passion Planner.
What steps do you take to continually improve your craft?
Is it cheesy to say that I’m addicted to learning and reinventing myself? Each year, I set aside some money to just learn something new. I watch Skillshare like it’s Netflix and force my friends to take art classes with me-- it’s truly an exhilarating experience for everyone involved.
My favorite way to learn design trends is attending creative conferences. My partner and I try to make it out to this travelling typography conference called TypeCon every year as volunteers. That way, we get free admission to all of the talks and forums (this is a major life hack to slash your conference costs in half, by the way!) We don’t really go on many vacations because we are in our early 20’s and saving up $, so this is like our BIG summer blowout. I mean, there is an open bar so we aren’t that far off lol.
A couple years ago, I couldn’t even tell you the difference between a font and a typeface but this conference has really opened me up to a whole new world. Because of TypeCon, I’ve begun practicing copperplate calligraphy, modern hand lettering, and sign painting. To me, trying out things completely unrelated to my original career goals has improved my craft in one way or another. It’s all about learning how to think differently, and finding new ways to do old things.
(first: Sign Painting at New Bohemia Signs, second: Ribbon Lettering)
Where did you draw your inspiration from for your contributions to the Women’s Empowerment Sticker Book?
To be honest, I just love washi tape and kept pushing for washi tape pages throughout the whole process. I thought about what I like to use when I make layouts in my own Passion Planner and made them into stickers!
Being able to work with such a talented team definitely kept the creative juices flowing. I love that we are able to bounce new ideas off of each other so fluidly, while honoring our individual voices as artists.
(Passion Planner Women’s Empowerment Sticker Book)
How do you handle an art block or a creative rut?
Ooh this is a good question! As someone who creates artwork for my day job and my side hustle, I get hit with art blocks all the time. I only just got the hang of practicing this thing that people call a “work-life balance” a few months ago, actually.
I imagine my creative energy works similarly to a physical part of my body. Like a muscle, you need to work it out consistently to stay strong but if you don’t take a break, you’ll get burnt out or injured. And once you’re injured, it’ll take a really long time to recover and regain your momentum.
So to prevent this “creative burnout,” I only work on personal artwork when I feel like I want to. It’s very rare that I will force myself to do the thing that I’m supposed to be passionate about. In between my full-time job at Passion Planner and my personal projects, I like to spend time with my English bulldog (my biggest muse, btw), go bouldering with friends, roller skate, make resin jewelry, and volunteer in the community. I try my best to be a well-rounded person so that when I do want to make art, I’ll actually have interesting things to draw lol.
(Climbing at Santee Boulders for the first time)
What keeps you motivated in life or what is your ‘Why?’ in life?
I think my overall “why” in life is to gain financial stability and support my family. My mom is a barber and my dad is an offset printer so both their labor intensive careers have taken tolls on their health. My parents have given up their whole entire lives to raise me, so taking care of them in retirement is my overarching goal in life.
On this journey, I do have little “whys” along the way that keep me going: finding community, becoming a role model, and pushing for positive social change. All of these things ultimately circle back to my main goal: making my parents proud.
(Stella from Animal Crossing)
What’s your advice for artists who are just starting out?
The world is so diverse, there will always be room for your creativity in the industry. There will always be people out there who will be inspired by your work and will want to support you as an artist. What’s most important is that you stay honest to your values and what you like to create. There are so many people, especially on Instagram, that try to emulate the style of their favorite artists and end up losing their own voice. While I encourage everyone to study from their favorite artists and references, try to incorporate what you learn into your own personal style. When you sit down to create a piece, what are you most inclined to make? Let that drive you to find your own voice. It will take some experimentation, elbow grease, and time for your art to reach its intended audience, but your community will ultimately find you.
For me, I was really struggling to find my personal style up until late 2019. I kept taking on different personas with every art piece and became more and more frustrated with myself. I decided to take a break from trying to be someone else and resolved to draw only what I like to draw. I really like dogs so I started drawing dogs and posted them online as a challenge with my coworker, Tami. Because of that and my very obvious passion for drawing dogs, a couple of months later people started reaching out to me to design for their pet brands. It wasn’t easy getting here, but it is really that simple.
Keep creating, keep learning, and keep supporting your fellow artists! It will all work out :)
(Le Shoob limited edition rescue collection)
What does Women’s Empowerment mean to you?
Uplifting all womxn by holding space for them and their work, listening to them, believing them, and giving them credit for their accomplishments. If you look back at history and see who was behind the great social, political, and scientific advances, you will see womxn, namely BIPOC womxn, in the ranks; however, they do not receive the same credit as their male counterparts for their contributions. Womxn were always here putting in the work, it’s about time we get written into textbooks, too!
(Women’s March Global #WhyIMarch Contest Winner)
Where can we find more of your work?
A: Right now, I only have work on my instagram @whaletran. But in a couple of weeks, my website www.wednesdaytran.com will be revamped and ready for launch! I love chatting with fellow artists, let’s be pals :,-)
Enjoy Wednesday’s designs and support other female artists by purchasing the Women's Empowerment Sticker Book!