Art, Creative, News

Q&A: Featured Artist Tommy Vinh Bui: “My favourite medium is whatever I can get my grubby mitts on”

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At aAh! we aim to shine a spotlight on our talented student community. To celebrate the launch of The LEGACY Issue, we caught up with this issue’s shortlisted featured artists.


Tommy Vinh Bui peddles literacy and procrastination as a librarian and PhD student at Manchester Met respectively. He was a 2015-16 American Library Association Spectrum Scholar and a 2018-19 Arts for LA Cultural Policy Fellow for the city of Inglewood.

Bui’s poetry and artwork has been featured in Department of Cultural Affairs publications and he was a 2020 Pushcart Prize nominee. Many moons ago he was a Peace Corps volunteer serving in Central Asia. Today he runs marathons for leisure and for running away from his problems. 


When did you begin creating artwork?

As early as I could remember. Doodling in the margins of my homework was a cherished pastime and got me through many a yawnful math class. Errant art spontaneously sprouting on my schoolwork probably accounted for more D’s than necessary throughout my academic career. But worth the summer school, I say.

What is your favourite artistic medium?

My favourite medium is whatever I can get my grubby mitts on. I particularly enjoy experimenting with different textures and found material. I’ll draw on donut boxes, parking tickets, the hull of an orange, anything, really. The more ephemeral, the better. As for an instrument, I’m fairly low maintenance – just your regular ol’ garden variety ballpoint pen’ll do. Or whatever’s handy. Literally. I drew a mural on the side of a mud-splattered truck once using my finger. It came out fairly legible and wonderfully fleeting, all said.

What do you draw inspiration from?

I go out of my way for a regularly scheduled dose of inspiration. I’m a big mosey-er of museums and the majestic outdoors are frequently meandered with my peepers peeled. I’ll also take the time to squint at the inane in an attempt to decipher the hidden aesthetic value potentially dormant within. So if you ever catch me just sitting there staring at my salad, that’s why: Art.

Describe your artwork in 3 words.

Hard-scrabbled, quaffable, karate-kick. 

About the author / 

Tara Morony

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