This artist can make an entire galaxy of Star Wars characters using nothing but crayons
"Wax nostalgic" with Hoang Tran's extraordinary crayon carvings
Name: Hoang Tran
When Hoang Tran was in dental school, he hated it. So, he gave in to the power of the art side.
"I think I've always been artistically inclined and good with my hands," the 31-year-old tells CBC Arts by email, and the evidence is there in living colour.
Tran carves crayons, and since leaving school to "look for a more creative career path," the artist — who's currently based in Pittsburgh, PA — has been turning box after box of Crayolas into pop culture characters. On his Instagram you'll find Calvin and Hobbes, Cinderella (and her castle), Guillermo del Toro's movie monsters and even Canada's most-used emoji. But some of his most popular pieces are straight out of Star Wars.
Darth Vader, for example, is his best seller on Etsy. "I've made him so many times that I can carve him from memory," Tran says, and he creates each piece from nothing but crayon wax. If you see any spots of extra colour — say, the silver in Wicket's whiskers or the red in Darth Maul's mask — the details have been added by melting other crayons, which Tran carefully applies to the sculpture.
Since the summer of 2013, these crayon carvings have been his main practice, and he got the idea while planning his exit from college. A friend had invited him to take part in an art show, and after seeing another example of crayon art online, he thought he'd give it a try. Dentistry students, it turns out, are already pros at playing with wax.
They use the stuff to learn anatomy, Tran explains. Early in the program, every student carves teeth as an exercise. He still uses the same tools to create his crayon sculptures, which he now works on full time.
I do like the idea of taking something unexpected and ordinary like crayons and turning them into something extraordinary.- Hoang Tran, artist
"Wax was a material I was already comfortable with when I started, so it didn't seem like an odd choice at the time," he says.
"I do like the idea of taking something unexpected and ordinary like crayons and turning them into something extraordinary. Since most people are familiar with crayons, it helps give them a sense of scale and how small and fragile my work actually is."
"Star Wars in general has been a great source of inspiration for me," he says. "I don't particularly like carving human faces, so Star Wars gives me a lot of alternative options with different aliens, droids or people wearing helmets."
"I'm always open to carving new and different things. It keeps things from getting stale. Whatever I do end up making, I'm confident someone out there is going to like it."
Take a look at some of his work and follow @mumblestohimself on Instagram.
Social media can be so much more than selfies and viral videos — it's increasingly becoming a scratch pad for emerging artists and other creative minds to show off their latest work. Artstagram curates the best visual talent on Instagram, helping bring a little more art into your daily feed.