Calgary artist and designer Shirley Vuong was only eight years old when she realized that she wanted to create for a living.
“I didn’t want a regular job that may confine me,” Vuong told Daily Hive. “I needed to move around and create, to see the world and see what was out there for me.
“I love thinking outside the box and creating things that you don’t usually see. I also love using vibrant colours and making people smile while looking at my creations.”
Vuong has been making hockey fans smile throughout the pandemic with her Instagram series of 3D paper artworks based on different NHL teams.
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“It was a project that I did during the first lockdown of COVID,” explained Vuong, a longtime Calgary Flames fan.
“I’ve always wanted to create something with the NHL teams because I’m a huge hockey fan and the lockdown was the perfect moment to create it. It was a fun project to make as it made me learn more about the cities and where popular items came from.”
The multi-faceted artist is also known as Elsie by fans of her work, with the pseudonym helping her through a difficult time in life.
“Elsie is an easy way of saying LC which is short for Lemon Cake,” shared Vuong. “That name came from a well-known restaurant that I first worked at when I was 18. Ever since then it stuck with me like glue on paper.
She says that she was also fighting depression, so “Elsie” became a way to escape and show her creative side.
“I feel freer when I’m creating. When I couldn’t create, this still made me feel freer.”
Vuong has experimented with a variety of disciplines, including clay, pencil crayon, spray paint, cooking, and foam. However, paper craft is the medium that has stuck with her the most.
“I went to school for graphic design and I remember one of my instructors showing us paper craft,” said Vuong. “I got hooked because it was so intriguing to me. I taught myself how to create templates and build sculptures which was a big learning curve. To this day, I’m still learning new ways of creating.
“I am a hands-on person, so creating anything that I can physically touch is my go-to. I really like seeing the final product when I’m creating because of the journey from a flat piece of paper, to something that makes people go, ‘You made that out of paper!?'”
Vuong has created extraordinary 3D paper artworks for clients ranging from King Eddy, Choice Market, and Holt Renfrew. Depending on what is required, each project can take between two weeks and six months to complete.
“It usually takes me a few tries to find the perfect idea that would make sense to the client while also showing my style,” said Vuong, who says her work plays on the notion of surprise and encourages thinking outside the box.
“I want everyone to feel happy and amazed when they see the final piece. I also want to embolden others to believe they can create something amazing with as little as a piece of paper.”
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