Troy Gua Artist
“I’m more satisfied, especially in the world today, moving through the world in a way that satisfies me creatively and can make others happy at the same time. If I can do that, it’s the ultimate.”
Born and raised in Seattle, Troy Gua is a passionately creative Artist.
He’s a self-taught artist, designer, maker, and tinkerer, continuously cultivating a prolific output of smart, bold work in a diverse range of media, produced with wit and a crisp visual aesthetic.
He is well known within the Purple Prince family for his ‘Le Petit Prince’ series of lovingly detailed and meticulously staged photographs – a surreal reimagining, in sculptural miniature, of the life and career of Prince Rogers Nelson, his artistic hero and his life’s and work’s most profound influence and inspiration. But it doesn’t stop there. There’s also his Pop Hybrids, Colorbands and Portals series.
To Troy, the idea comes first, the media of choice is whatever best serves the idea, and the methods of fabrication are as wide in scope as the results. His subject matter, like his media choices, are fluid and wide in range, addressing iconography and identity, referencing contemporary culture and his relationship with it, underscored and sewn together with his unique visual language.
While he absolutely makes art to express himself and to connect and commune with others, it may be more true to say that he makes art because of the addictive nature of the joy he derives from delighting others with the images and objects he makes.
Le Petit Prince (05:07)
What attracted you to Prince… (17:55)
Artistic inspiration (22:54)
Pop hybrids (25:19)
Katherine and getting through addiction together (31:48)
Talking about art (44:53)
Who inspired you? (49:37)
Edited Transcription with typos – sorry:
Eitan Chitayat 0:45
So I’m super excited. Because Troy is here and Troy is born and raised in Seattle. He’s a passionately creative, a self-taught artist, designer, maker, tinkerer, continuously cultivating prolific output of smart, bold work in a huge range of media. And it’s produced with wit, and a very crisp, visual aesthetic. I’m a huge fan. For him, the idea comes first media of choices, whatever best suits the idea, and how he makes it well, it’s as wide in scope as the results in subject matter, like his media choices of fluid, and addressing iconography and identity, referencing contemporary culture and his relationship with it underscored and sewn together with his very unique visual language. So while he absolutely makes art to express himself in connecting compute commune with others, it might be more true to say that he makes art because of the addictive nature of the joy. He derives from delighting others with the images and objects he makes. Troy I know you I’m just so happy to be speaking to you here today. How you doing? I’m doing well, sir. Likewise, I’m, I’m excited to be here with you. Wow. I still like love how, how we met, I have to open it up because it’s a little bit different people might not know who you are. Right? You are an amazing artist. And we connected over our love of Prince, as many people connect with you over their love with Prince.
Troy Gua 3:42
I’ve always strived to make my own way and not be put in any particular box. Although I know people like to do that. And it’s easy. And you know that I do it too. But I think I have always fought against being labeled as any one particular type of thing artists person. So I’m not labeled avoider. You know, the funny thing is, there’s a secret for everyone to hear. I guess is that’s kind of the point of mine that that?
Eitan Chitayat 4:22
If you think about the film I made, you know, back in the day, I’m that Jew, you think about you, it’s a label, but then the piece breaks that stereotype by naming everything that you actually are. So it kind of fucks with the whole notion of ….Well, I mean, and when you said on that label avoider, it makes me think of someone that we both love.
I’m gonna give you a little quote from a magazine article that came out a while back and it says Troy grew up has created hundreds of Le Petit Prince, LPP portraits and posts one every week on Instagram with the hashtag, LPP Saturday. And you say in an interview Prince’s infinitely inspirational, he provides a never-ending fountain of source material. So we’re going to talk about that. Before we do. I would love to open this with one question. And I’m putting you on the spot a little bit which I always know if you have to complete the sentence. What would you say? Troy Gua…I’m that…?
Troy Gua 3:01
Oh, wow. We’re opening up with that. Well, not to not to make you feel bad at all. But pronounces it’s pronounced GUA like guacamole, minus only one syllable instead of gua it’s a wah…
Eitan Chitayat 3:15
Guwah. It’s much, much better the way you say it. So I’m basically not… last names, that’s for sure.
Troy Gua 3:26
I haven’t even attempted yours. So and I don’t think I will. But so I’m that, you know, it’s funny. I’m probably a lot of things. But I think what I’m mostly is…. I’m that label avoider.
Eitan Chitayat 4:43
Mr. Prince Rogers Nelson. Yeah, it’s I have to ask you about the get go. And this is going to be the post of course, but I’d love for people to know right now where they can find you so that maybe as they’re listening, they can actually look you up so tell them where to go to so that as we’re talking they See what I think is just incredible, incredible work that you do.
Troy Gua 5:07
Man, thank you so much. You’re so kind to me. Um, if we’re talking about the prints inspired work specifically. Well, actually, let’s just start with my website. It’s Troy Gua calm so let’s troygua.com. There’s several different rabbit holes you can follow. Once you get there, you want to go to Le Petit Prince, Le Petit Prince is my tribute to my biggest hero and inspiration prints. And it’s so hard to describe it because it is evolved from what started out as as you know, what it is now is a way to continue and share Prince’s legacy and tell his story in a really unique visual way of storytelling, I think. And but it evolved from just being a photograph of a little sculptural figurine I made in the style of a Jerry Anderson super-marionation figure, which I don’t know if you’re familiar with what that is or not. If you are, that’s awesome. So their 1960s and 70s, you know, marionettes that were made into films by this genius couple Jerry Anderson, and I’m sorry, I can’t remember his wife’s name at the moment. But they were just so fascinating to me as a kid and they’ve always been like, in the back of my mind. Something that I wanted to recreate somehow. what’s what’s in that kind of like Thunderbirds kind of style Thunderbirds? Yes, yes, Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet. There’s all kinds of Yeah, there’s tons of them. And they have these like oversized heads. And they’re very surreal looking. And I was fascinated by it as a kid. It’s like, Wow, that’s so weird. Is it real? How is that working? And so that’s just kind of that was the impetus the the seed for the Liberty prints visual.
Eitan Chitayat 7:06
So this visual that you’re referencing, because of course, this is a podcast, and people would see and hopefully they’ll check out your site, but it’s a little, it’s a little prince miniature. Okay, and there’s one right and then you, you take what you don’t, why don’t you tell us what you do? Yeah,
Troy Gua 7:29
Let’s see if I can explain it. Um, yeah, so it is essentially one figure. Over time, I have created sculpted more heads. So there’s now like a selection of heads, and a couple of different bodies that are had, they have interchanging parts that I have modified and painted to, you know, reflect prints, and there’s different hairstyles, I create, I make all the clothing I create all the almost all the instruments, if there are some things I can find that are in the scale that I need them to be, I will, I will absolutely utilize them. If not, I just make my own stuff. And so what it is now is like I’m sort of telling the story of Prince’s life and career in this surreal photographic series. And they’re all set up dioramas and scenes that tell stories that I have culled from the internet and books over the years. And actually, even more recently, since Prince’s unfortunate passing, because there are a lot of folks and associates that were close to him that are now you know, telling their stories and their experiences with working and being around trance and I’m using that as source material and creating images based on that.
Eitan Chitayat 8:51
You know what I found beautiful about what you’re doing. And I discovered you quite by accident, I think it was because I made a film with a friend and Wendy and Lisa Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman scored the track and they became friends and somehow we connected and and I saw what you were doing. And the beautiful thing about what you do is like I know, I’m a huge prints fan, as you know, and everyone who knows me knows that as well. And I know pretty much everything there is to know about prints that everyone knows everything that’s out there but alone, you come and you have a very distinct and different type of art. And you put Prince in a situation with your art that we’ve never seen before and you marry that to a story that we’re either familiar with or we’re not. And it could be something as simple as dressing him up in his the parade era or the era of oh I don’t know when it was up and coming will Purple Rain, Love Sexy, and you see him in the get up that that we all know and love, and there’s a story and it, it kind of shows you another. It humanizes him in a way that we haven’t seen before. It makes it much more intimate. And I’ve never seen an artistic approach like that. With Prince, it actually reminds me a little bit of in a funny way of I’m blanking on we got a company going….
Troy Gua 10:20
Can I just say I love that I love I love that description, and the intimacy that you find in the in the project. That’s, that’s amazing to me. And I love that…
Eitan Chitayat 10:31
It’s completely intimate. I mean, you’ve very graciously, you know, as a gift, you sent me a calendar, which I have. And even when this calendar is over and done with like the year, I still have these images, and I flipped through them randomly, like this week, I’m in the mood of, of this era, and but it is intimate, because what you’ve created is it really feels like it’s him, you capture his spirit, you capture his personality, and everything. Well, well. And that’s what I want to talk about. Because you put all this homage, you know, it’s an homage to Prince and you put it out there, how does it feel, to feel that love coming back from the people, the fan base, myself included, who really, especially now who wish he was still that and in many ways he’s still there, because of, you know, this is one way of him still being around? And that’s what I mean by humanizing him. Yeah, still around, when we see that.
Troy Gua 11:34
How does it feel? Oh, god, that’s incredible, amazing, overwhelming, you know, we keep him alive. You and I, all of us, all of us Prince fans, we’re the ones that keep him alive. So you know, to get the feedback that I do tells me that I’m doing my job. And that people are responding to it. And hopefully they’re sharing it. And teaching some new folks about the amazing artists that Prince was and, and what an incredible creative. There’s just never been anyone like him and then ever will be I don’t think and I just want more people to know that I want more people to know about how amazing how incredible this creative man was. Because I think a lot of the times his visual and, and, and you know, his flamboyance just overshadowed how amazing his skill and virtuosity really, you know, was and his work ethic. And I mean, there’s just, you know, there’s so many things about him.
Eitan Chitayat 12:44
I think all of that is coming out. Now I think people who really understood people who understand actually business, I think they saw it when he was alive, because and I see this in you as well. And, you know, you’ve written for, you know, the my brand. And then at branding agency, gastritis is when you talked about how he influenced you. And it’s his business ethic. I mean, as an artist, it’s not enough to just have an idea, you have to have the idea, you have to make the idea, you have to make it well, then you have to perfect it, then you have to make sure people know about it, then you have to put it out, then you have to market it, then you have to make sure that once it’s been marketed, it’s marketed even more. And he had not just the musical talent, he had the business talent, and he had it seems like he had the you know, the very difficult personality that that goes along with sometimes successful, you know, you have to be ruthless. And it seemed like he was I remembered, you know, I was blanking before. Yeah. And Frank, you know, the story of Anne Frank during the Holocaust. So Anne Frank, she wrote a diary. It’s a book, a lot of people don’t want to read books, and especially today’s generation. And the foundation for Anne Frank, came out with a graphic novel. And I bought the graphic novel, and, and I read it, and I looked at it and I experienced the art and through that I was able to feel and Frank even more than her diary. And to me, that’s what I was trying to say before that there’s the music. And then there’s the person. And the way that you present the person to me is because it’s visual. And it’s an expression from someone else. It really it’s really incredible. So when did this obsession with with Prince start? I know you’ve spoken about this before, but I’d love to hear.
Troy Gua 14:49
Well, when I was 13 is like when it was cemented. Like my buddies down the street had MTV I didn’t have MTV but my buddies down the street. So I basically lived there. And, you know, MTV was on repeat. And so that was when I first saw Prince, you know, the 1999, and little red Corvette videos. And I was curious about him. And, you know, wondering, you know what the deal was, you know, he was a really interesting looking dude, I liked the music, but I wasn’t, you know, it wasn’t like an obsession yet. I’m, like, 12 at the time. So then, summer of 1984, When Doves cries on the radio, nonstop. My mom, who is a stay at home, mom at the time, picked up a paper out a newspaper out from somebody. So in the afternoon, she would deliver newspapers for a couple of weeks. Maybe it was a month, I don’t remember. And I would go with her. And I got to pick the radio station. Well, so When Doves Cry over and over and over, and so I got to train my mom at the same time I was, you know, becoming upset. So then my sister who was, like, 12 years older than me, she took me to see Purple Rain. I wasn’t old enough to go on my own. But she took me to it. And that was it. You know, that was it. And so ever since then, I have listened to and learned everything I can about the man and and, yeah…
Eitan Chitayat 16:24
Why not… Okay, thriller, Michael Jackson thriller. That was crazy. I was like, my Yeah, why not? Michael Jackson, why Prince.
Troy Gua 16:33
I was actually into Michael Jackson. Before I was I was totally in the MJ. There was something more I mean, I was coming into my adolescence. At the same time, I discovered Prince and Prince was more dangerous and more sexy. He was more sexual. He was, you know, talking about girls and sex and this and that. And I was drawn to it. You know, it was there was I was drawn to the dirtiness, quote unquote, of it and the dangerousness I guess, and the rebelliousness.
Eitan Chitayat 17:10
See, that’s interesting, because I felt the same way. And we have that in common when purple ring came out.
Troy Gua 17:17
Yeah, I’m not gonna try and be one of those bands that say I was there from day one, because I wasn’t really..
Eitan Chitayat 17:23
For me, it was let’s go crazy. When that video came out. I think I must have seen it 5000 times. But what’s…What’s interesting about what you’re saying is like that the sexuality drawn to that now, most people, most guys I know at the time. And I remember this one like Prince… Prince is gay… He’s not even he’s not like, what do you see? Like, he’s not the typical male? He was? I think it was.
Troy Gua 17:55
I think I think I’ve always felt a little bit of an outsider. And no matter what situation I am, I’m not necessarily 100% comfortable. So I think that I was drawn to this dude who was like, ultimately confident in heels and ruffles. And you know what I mean? He just exuded confidence, and assuredness and I want it to be that, you know, and I want it to be different.
Eitan Chitayat 18:29
It’s something very attractive, something very attractive. But first of all, I 1,000% agree. I can tell you that like when it comes to women, when it comes to men, I’m attracted to that. It might not be a sexual attraction, obviously, with men, but I look, I get turned on by people who have confidence. And he was the epitome of that I said before about labels, and we’ll get back to that now, because he didn’t really seem to care ever. I’m sure it isn’t entirely true, because we all have our insecurities. But he never really cared too much about what people thought, and what label you know. So let them think that I’m gay. Let them think that I’m black, let them think that I’m white. Let them think that I’m a freak, let them think that it’s funk, or rock or jazz, he didn’t care and he broke it all the time.
Troy Gua 19:20
That’s what drew me to him is that there was there was no definitive This is what I am. And I was fascinated by that ambiguity.
Eitan Chitayat 19:30
So on that note, I want to talk about you now because you’re an artist, and L LP is not all that you do and we want I want to talk about some of the other stuff that you do. So as an artist, specifically, how do you relate to that or how does that because I’m he’s a source of inspiration for sure. We know that but that breaking the mold, the not caring the doing what you want to do the No, don’t label me. How does that play into your art?
Troy Gua 20:00
So difficult man. I mean, I’m very eclectic. In style, I make all kinds of different work. And I don’t know, I feel like it might work against me as far as the traditional, contemporary art world. I’m not easy to put into a box. And this is what this guy does, right? And I don’t care. I don’t necessarily want to be. I don’t know, man. Like, when you set me up with a friend of yours, who was in the contemporary art world, and she had some questions for me about, you know, what do you want? And I didn’t answer in a way that I think, was conducive to getting any kind of help. Because it’s, um, like you said, about being ruthless. I don’t think I’m at a point in my life that I want to be ruthless. Like, if I’m okay, here’s what I am. I’m that late bloomer. Like, I didn’t really start in this career of mine until I was in my mid 30s. So I feel like I’m more satisfied, especially in the world today, moving through the world, and in a way that satisfies me creatively, and can make others happy at the same time, if I can do that, then that is like the ultimate, but I don’t necessarily need to set the world on fire with my art right now. I think I’ve got a really good, solid group of folks that are into me. And I would, of course, like to, you know, grow that exponentially. But I don’t know that I want to be ruthless in order to do it.
Eitan Chitayat 21:51
It sounds to me like there’s a lot of freedom in, in maybe not being driven by things that would, you know, there’s a lot of pressure to please lots of people, but I think what you’re what I’m hearing is that you want to please what it is that turns you on, and that makes you happy. And there’s a lot…
Troy Gua 22:15
Of people want to come along for the ride, then come on, let’s go. But yeah….
Eitan Chitayat 22:22
I think that people are coming along for the ride. I mean, with every piece of art that you put there, and I follow you and I see what people say, you know, I see what, because there’s a lot of engagement on your social, which we’ll talk about as well. You do have a fan base, and I think it is growing and it will grow and, you know, slow and steady wins the race, I think, you know, yeah, but you don’t need to set the world on fire. But that’s something that I think that that’s great.
Troy Gua 22:54
I don’t know if I answered the question about how Prince, and his musical practice correlates to my own artistic practice. But um, the way it does is pretty much in every way, he was so eclectic, and so willing to push boundaries and try new sounds and just apparently didn’t like the word experiment, because it sounded like it wasn’t a finished product. But he was experimental and just, you know, had no rules as far as how he wanted to create. And that’s exactly how I want to be.
Eitan Chitayat 23:31
And still, yeah, and you are, well, I mean, even when I hear you talking about, about this artist who inspires me as a, I wouldn’t say an artist, but as a creative person, it kind of recharges me, it’s like, it’s a reminder. And I think that that what he brings to the table for you. The more I think the more people hear what inspires you joy, and not just your art, but also the what’s behind your art and the inspiration behind your art. That in itself is inspirational. And maybe this would be a good point to hear a little bit more about the different types of art that you create. And again, I want people to go to Troy, wah, wah, see troygua.com to look at the art as you’re listening to this, but I know that you have for example portals and you have a pop hybrids series where you take kind of like these iconographic faces for pop hybrids at least and you kind of like the kind of on top of one another and this resin, high gloss resin. And I just saw that you put a put out Sylvester Stallone yesterday or the day before or something and it’s amazing. And you have to send it to him because he loves it. So but maybe you can tell us more about these different projects so we can understand your range and I also want to talk about the process of you Creating that, because to me, it’s fascinating to watch the videos that you put up on social as well. It’s a very visceral experience that to the listeners, you need to go now and you need to follow Troy and you need to watch his videos and see the art you absolutely have to but tell us about the art.
Troy Gua 25:19
Right? So the pieces, you’re talking about the portraiture, the pop hybrids, they were born in 2008, I think. And it’s a series that is continued on. So I said, I’d like to repeat myself. But what I do like to do is go back and add two bodies of work that I’ve created over time. And this is the most extensive one, aside from Le Petit Prince that I’ve worked on. And so taking, originally taking inspiration from Andy Warhol celebrity, pop iconography, I took images and of two separate people and juxtapose them over each other into a new portrait with possibly new meanings. And it’s, like you mentioned the Sylvester piece and it’s actually the silver masters, which is Sylvester Stallone, who was this Uber masculine you know, motion picture superstar, Mr. Macho Man and Sylvester, the disco king queen. You make me feel mighty real, et cetera et cetera, who was you know, gender fluid and androgynous they both kind of set the 1970s late 1970s on fire with their work, right? So they’re both still investors. They’re both at the top of their game one is like Uber, you know, masculine, straight, blah, blah, blah. One is gender fluid. So they’re an interesting juxtaposition to me.
Eitan Chitayat 26:49
Together as artists they…
Troy Gua 26:50
Are together, so they’re overlapped. Yeah. So…
Eitan Chitayat 26:55
Yeah, that’s amazing.
Troy Gua 26:56
They’re also optical, they’re kind of optical, fun games to really. So most of them are, you know, separate people juxtapose over one another, like, for instance, you mentioned Michael Jackson, one of the very first pop hybrid pieces I did was called the boy King of Pop. So it’s King Tut, and Michael Jackson superimposed over each other. The names go together, the boy king, king of pop, so it’s boy King of Pop. They are both young men thrust upon thrust into the limelight, so to speak, you know, without any choice of their own. Right? They both died in masks like, literally, figuratively. So there’s these connections that I like to make, I have to ask. The prince is their Prince and another Prince, no see, over time. I didn’t want to put Prince with anybody else. That’s how this other kind of aspect of this series happened was because of prints. I had too much reverence for prints to combine him with somebody else. So what I did was, took several areas of prints as source material, and layered them upon each other. And so every one of the prints pieces is like four or five different errors layered upon same with Bowie. There’s several Bowie pieces that are the same way. big boys. Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. I didn’t come upon him until later. And, you know, then went back and studied do you remember?
Eitan Chitayat 28:41
I mean, I can remember a specifically for me, Bowie. Which album it was. But when you were younger, was that something? Was there a certain song or album that did it for you?
Troy Gua 28:53
Well, you know, it’s, I grew up the youngest of four kids, and the next older sibling was nine years older than and then 10. And that brother was like, my buddy, like, I used to hang out with him quite a bit. He’s a bit of a loner, like music a lot. I would go upstairs and we listen to albums, and he would share all this music with me. And so I remember Bowie from it was changes. I believe the album changes where it’s a black and white image of him holding a guitar and looking. Yeah, and I was just kind of like, wow, this person is an alien. Hmm, this person is like from another planet or something. Right? So I remember but I remember the music but I wasn’t like as fascinated by Bowie as I was with Prince obviously. But it was the late 90s I got into the industrial Bowie when he was doing work with like Trent Reznor. And that’s when I like was like, whoa, this dude is still rocking.
Eitan Chitayat 29:57
He rocked all the way out. Yeah. It was hunky dory. Oh, nice. was when I heard that album and I heard life on Mars. Wow, that was that was it?
Troy Gua 30:09
You know, there’s another that’s that reminds me of a moment in the Wes Anderson movie Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou sure, where that fun is playing. And Bill Murray has just found out he has a son and he walks out on the boat. It’s just following him walking out on the boat and lighting a joint and taking a puff. And it’s just this beautiful, cinematic moment to that song.
Eitan Chitayat 30:34
Now I remember that scene. I totally forgot about that completely.
Troy Gua 30:40
After watching that movie again. It’s one of my favorites.
Eitan Chitayat 30:46
Yes. Wait. You talked about your brother, your brothers? Are you close to your family? Are you guys? Like what are they doing?
Troy Gua 30:53
I mean, both my parents are gone. And they were pretty much the glue that I mean, we’re kind of like the four points of the compass. Really. We’re all quite a bit different. Three of us just got together actually over the past weekend. And you know, we got along, we get along. But we’re not super close.
Eitan Chitayat 31:12
Yeah, families are complicated. There’s love. But there’s also differences. But no, I hear you on that. So when you when you talk about your and I want to, because this is connected to family when you talk about your art. And when I’ve spoken to and your wife, you credit your wife with you know, we talked about integration, we talked about Prince, but I find that your wife is a huge source of inspiration for you.
Troy Gua 31:30
Number one, yeah.
Eitan Chitayat 31:37
and she actually was quite a bit of a rock for you. Can you talk about that a little bit?
Troy Gua 31:48
Absolutely. Yeah. She is, I wouldn’t be talking to you right now if it wasn’t for her. So we met in 2005. I was speaking of family and, and brothers, I had been working for my next older brother for about six years when I met Katherine. And it was, you know, I don’t want a dog my brother. It was just kind of that it wasn’t my type of job. And I felt like I was kind of stuck there. From day one, I got shit done. Six years later, she just basically kind of rescued me from I was kind of a shell of a person at that point, to be completely honest. I spoke when you introduced and spoke about the addictive joy that I get from sharing and seeing the joy that I give people with the image. I’m an addict, like I was a drunk. When I met Katherine I was a complete alcoholic. She was a partier, as well. And we kind of hit the ground running together for about a year, year and a half. And we fell for each other hard and partied that first year real hard and then it started to crumble. And we decided that we enjoyed each other’s company and loved each other too much to just like, throw that away over substances. So we decided to together get sober. And so we did. And throughout that process, she realized that I had this, this gift, she saw this art that I had been kind of storing in my place over the years. And she’s like, what are you doing that job you need to be you need to work this out. And she was making pretty good money at the time. enough to allow me to quit my job and she was gonna support me until I could make this art thing work. And, you know, I still just saying it out loud. It’s like, I still think about that. It’s like, what leap of faith and how amazing is that? And how grateful I am that this woman came into my life and gave me this gift of fulfilling my dream right my lifelong dream of being an artist. And she..yeah, so yeah, I’m like, choked up just even thinking about it. But so that’s what happened. She quit my job. I figured I just started making art. We got sober together and I started making art and figured out who needs aren’t on their walls, coffee shops, hair salons. So I just started looking at want ads and just practice hanging my art and having my art seen by people and it just sort of grew from there. And over time, I was able to start selling work and you know, hustling? How amazing is it to have someone believe in you? That is number one. It’s absolutely number one. For me, personally, it’s like having someone have the confidence in you that maybe you once had, but maybe lost for a while. If someone can like, spark that again, in you, that’s like the biggest gift that anyone could give you. And I’m eternally grateful to them.
Eitan Chitayat 35:20
I think, my personal message to Katherine, who I hope to, I hope one day I get to meet is also thank you. And I’m sure a lot of people want to say thank you to her because of what she enabled you to give into the world. I want to ask you, when it’s like you said in a sentence, but yeah, let’s go deep, like addicted to substances. How do you come out of that? How did you come out of that? Like, if you don’t mind sharing, you know?
Troy Gua 35:53
Well, I think we did it. We held each other accountable. I don’t think either one of us probably had the desire or the willpower to do it on our, on our own as separate individuals. And, you know, I think it was really important to both of us to show good example for the other. And so we kind of held each other up as crutches…
Eitan Chitayat 36:17
Do some type of programs?
Troy Gua 36:20
We just got to do this. It was white knuckling it, man, it was just us. And we lost all our friends basically, and changed our lifestyle completely and replaced all our bad habits with good ones. And, you know, I’m sorry, you literally, go ahead. Well, no, we didn’t necessarily avoid people. But we sure stopped getting invited to places and things. And it’s okay, because we figured out that, you know, a lot of those folks that maybe we hung out with, that was the only connection we really had was through alcohol or drugs. So maybe that wasn’t the best friendship anyway.
Eitan Chitayat 37:01
What does Katherine do?
Troy Gua 37:03
She does a lot. She’s actually doing a master’s program for counseling online, at the same time that she does a full time job working for Holland America cruise line as a personal cruise consultant. So she’s had, she’s been employed throughout the whole COVID process. And it’s been quite an experience for her. But I mean, she’s where she’s kept the job the whole time. And things are starting to move back towards normal. But she is an incredibly busy woman, like she keeps herself so busy.
Eitan Chitayat 37:39
Yeah, and I imagined that, um, that as you create your art, and you’re doing what you’re doing, like you talked about the different kind of like, styles are different, that I know why you work. Yeah, bodies of work that you have. And one of the questions that I have is, because I’ve seen videos, as you’re creating, I think it’s you, I think it was your pop series when you’re in front of this big table, and you’re pouring resin. And, and again, I want people to go out and to look at your site and check that out. But what’s it like, as you’re creating joy? Like, is it all meticulously planned, you know, exactly what you’re doing? Do you have the vision set? Or is it kind of like this free flow, kind of like more spontaneous free form thing? And also, it’s not like you’re painting, you know, when you’re doing LPP, or when you’re doing this resin work, what’s going on? In your mind, it seems like, you have to really be on top of your shit. It’s like it’s not. I’m just gonna draw, there’s a lot of moving parts. How does that? What’s the process?
Troy Gua 38:46
Yeah, I mean, it’s been an evolution, especially for the pop hybrid series, because they did initially start as meticulously hand painted acrylic on canvas paintings, that I would then resin coat. And it’s interesting, that folks are so drawn into and interested in the resin coating process, because that’s really just kind of the cherry on the top of the cake. That’s the easy part. The whole process of designing and creating the piece has evolved into becoming a purely digital process for me now. So I do a lot of work in Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator and that type of thing going back and forth, and I have a process that I have just kind of put together over the years, you know, myself, but like you said in the beginning in the intro, the idea comes first. So it’s always about I almost always have a finished product in mind. Like I have a visual of what I want this idea to be manifested physically as. So it is kind of all about the problem solving about how to make that thing, real. And it’s interesting how you say that, like, it’s visceral, because that part is visceral. But the rest of the process is, so not this.
Eitan Chitayat 40:14
It’s coming up with a concept. It’s coming up with like, for example, you know, we talked about pop, you know, the icons, the people, but then you also have the portals. And the portals is about, kind of like, painting. Those. those are those are okay, great. So, and that’s about light and dark, right?
Troy Gua 40:32
Kind of, kind of, it’s about finding hope, finding light, finding a reason, and finding a meaning in a seemingly meaningless universe. Absurdism, you know, it’s a dark time, they came out of a really dark time. For, for me, for us, for some folks, a particular demographic, I suppose, in America, and the years between 2016 and 2020, were really dark. And basically just me like, going back to basics and just trying to find light. So I was painting windows and portals and doors and ways to find this, where’s the light, I want to find the light. So that’s what that series is about. And I wanted to do it in a way that was really minimalist, very graphic, kind of simple, yet modern. Is that still going on? Do you still add to that body of work? I there are, there are some sketches that I have in mind that I haven’t implemented yet. But yeah, that’s probably a series that I will visit again.
Eitan Chitayat 41:36
Yeah, I’m very familiar with that process of like, just having, you know, at least one in me doing what I do is I have an idea. And then I have to, I have to have the idea first, it doesn’t just like come out of like, so you. I mean, if we’re talking about the pop hybrids, you have two people in mind, wouldn’t they be great? Then you have right? How do you develop you do research to find out which image you’re going to use?
Troy Gua 42:05
Yeah, it’s not. I always balk when people maybe mistake the series as just another pop icon, portraiture series, because it’s more than, you know, it’s more than that with the opposing individuals, and that sort of thing. So it’s, and it all it is very personal to me. Even though it’s a, it’s very commercially accessible. They, every one of them come from me, like they’re, these are important icons to me, for one reason or another. So it does all kind of stem from an interest, a fascination of mine in either one or both of these individuals, or just, you know, a Rolodex of ideas that I’ve kept over the years, like, the semesters, for instance, was one of them.
Eitan Chitayat 42:52
Where do you talk about that? By the way, like, for example, you do you have exhibitions, you showcase your work at galleries? Is that the place where you’re able to really talk about the, you know, an interview like this, for example? Like, for example, on your website? Do you talk about the characters and pop in the hot pop hybrid series?
Troy Gua 43:12
I think I do. I don’t know, I think I’ll have to go back and look at my page to…
Eitan Chitayat 43:17
That’s always interesting, what’s behind the art, you know, like, and even as I’m talking to you, I’m discovering things that I, you know, that’s actually, the meaningful stuff is just as you know, the meaning behind the art is important. It is important, but at the same time, it’s..
Troy Gua 43:36
Funny that we’re talking about this now, because I’ve been really thinking about that particular thing. And why is it important? What it’s what’s behind the art? And does it matter who the artist is? If you are interested in this piece of art? Would it change your interest if you knew that the artist was someone else?
Eitan Chitayat 43:57
Well, I don’t know if it’s if the artist was someone else. But let’s talk about trends for a second. So if we didn’t know how Sign of the Times was written, and I think we know how it was written based on you know, you know, he picked up a newspaper one day, and all of the page one through I don’t know how many pages in the paper, he basically took stories from that paper. And out of that he created sign at the time. It’s basically a day in the life of the world based on the Star Tribune. Right. Right. And, and that to me, I, you know, when I heard that, my mind was blown, it actually did make the song more meaningful. Yeah, right. Purple Rain, I totally get rain. Nobody knows really, what Purple Rain is about. But you know, if we didn’t know what he was thinking that maybe you maybe wouldn’t be well, I guess it depends.
Troy Gua 44:53
I think it depends. And I like the idea of not having I mean to talk about art. I’m a visual artist for a reason, right? It’s like, that’s, that’s how I express myself visually. You know, in essence, I would prefer to just visually communicate.
Eitan Chitayat 45:15
Do you feel uncomfortable talking about like. Maybe that’s not the right word. But like, it’s like my sister, you know, my sister is a videographer. She does everything on her iPhone. And I really respect her as and as, as an artist, I think that she’s great. And I told her, you know, on her website, you know, you write about what’s behind it, you know? And she’s like, well, I’m a visual artist, and I can’t, I’m not good with words. I’m like, well fucking get good with words then because you know, people want to know, but she’s got a brother. That’s good with words. Well, yeah.
And I actually do respect what she’s saying. Is that the way that you feel as well, like that you..
Troy Gua 45:58
Yeah, it’s, it’s difficult. Okay, there’s, boy, there’s a lot based around this idea. There’s okay. There’s a, there’s a David Bowie quote that I love to use. It says, talking about art is like dancing about architecture. And that’s how I feel about it. It’s like, it’s, for me, it’s a visual medium. I feel like there are contemporary art world trends that use buzzwords and certain phrase ologies. And there’s, you know, a trendiness connected to the way you talk about art. And I am a self-taught non institutional artist, and I just don’t have those chops. So I don’t even want to go there most of the time. And I’m actually, I wasn’t sure I was going to talk about this. But since we are delving into this subject, I’m putting together I’ve been working pretty hard on creating a show, using an alter ego, because I don’t want to, I want to take away any possible prejudice, anybody that knows me might have, if they walk into this gallery, and experience the art, I want them to just experience the art on its own. You know,
Eitan Chitayat 47:27
You’ve been labeled as Troy. And you want to, yeah, well, that’s what it sounds like. You want
Troy Gua 47:36
Yeah, I want to take that label away. So as an experiment, I want to see what happens. I want to see if anybody goes to the show, first of all, and I want to see it so..
Eitan Chitayat 47:48
It’s gonna be some random anonymous show by an artist with a different name?
Troy Gua 47:54
Um, in essence, it’s not that random, it’s in a gallery that I’ve had a show at in the past. And we have an affiliation. But it’s in it’s an alter ego that has been with me for a long time, actually. But it’s never been a publicly debuted, so to speak. So and I’m going to zoom in to the opening, using a software that gives me a weird Avatar and a deeper voice or like any app and voice to me, right. I might be a Camille. Yeah. So we’ll see what happens. I’m really stoked that the gallerist was on board for doing it. But that’s amazing. And the theme of the show is absurdism. And the and the idea that the idea of trying to find meaning and a meaningless universe, so I’m using these objects of art as metaphors for that. That’s like, this object might have some meaning for me, but what I want you to find the meaning for yourself. That’s the essence of the show. I love it.
Eitan Chitayat 49:03
I think it’s gonna be in Minneapolis.
Troy Guya 49:06
Seattle. Yeah, that’s where I am. Yeah.
Eitan Chitayat 49:10
Why did I think Minneapolis? Well, obviously, obviously, I could definitely edit that but up because I just sound like a moron. I want to ask you because I’m also cognizant of time. So besides Prince, and your wife, who’s been super, super influential to you, and why…
Troy Gua 49:37
Boy, that’s really…Ah, yeah, I guess I’m gonna have to say my dad because I was always so impressed with how he kind of made a quite a great life for himself, after having coming from a pretty difficult upbringing and a lot of sad stories. And it’s just childhood but he was an amazing father, I always felt safe. He, you know, crafted a life with his wife, my mom and he did it on his own terms essentially. And, and that is inspirational to me to be able to create something out of nothing, though he did that, as well.
Eitan Chitayat 50:22
Troy Gua 50:27
Gosh, I don’t know why take a look, because it’s difficult, you know what…Muhammad Ali. I’m all about the folks who were forging their own paths. And, you know, kind of shocking the folks aside that are naysayers and, you know, forging ahead. But he’s definitely one of those men too, like people that did it their way. Absolutely. That’s it.
Eitan Chitayat 50:54
He definitely did it his own way. You know, I’ve been watching a lot of interviews of him. In the last, you know, in the last year, I’m on Facebook a little bit more, and people post these videos and interviews and clips. Man, did he have a gift? I mean, with expression? No, it’s not just, of course, you know, he’s a good boxer, but it was his personality. And his defiance. And I think you know, what you said about you wanting to do things your way or prints, you know, it’s defiance actually and high. And having the chops to back it up. You can’t just be defiant, you have to have something going for you as well.
Troy Gua 51:32
Yeah, that’s absolutely true. You know, and I think maybe I think of defiance, like as a negative word, but it’s not. I don’t think you know, it’s not. And you’re right, it is defiance. And you have to be brave to be defiant to.
Eitan Chitayat 51:46
Yeah, bravery is a, you know, I especially see now, I talked about it with, with my last interview a guy called Daniel Rosenberg, about anti semitism. You know, we talked a lot about anti semitism. But we also talked a lot about canceled culture, which is very challenging right now. Because I don’t know what your opinions are. And we don’t need to get too deep into it. But like this, you know, whether you’re on the far left or on the far right, there’s a mob, there’s a mob out there. And it’s very difficult today to speak up. And because you’re going to get torn down by this mob. And I think that you do have to be brave, you have to be very, very brave and to be defiant. So I see defined as a strength. Yeah, as a strength. Absolutely. I mean, hopefully, you’re on the right side, you know, you know, it’s always subjective. But you know, from what from where I stand, there typically is a right and a wrong. And if you can be defined in the face of the mob, which is to me inherently that word is a negative, then that’s ultimately a good thing. Try what something can then hit you with something else, which is going to be very hard to answer. So think about it. What’s something that absolutely nobody knows about you? Not even Katherine?
Troy Gua 53:13
Not even can even Katherine. Hmm, oh, boy. She knows everything. I could be silly. You know, pretty much everything I was going to, you know, like, the thing that first pops into my head was like, you know, I’m like a recovering addict. But we already covered that. And I think people I think a lot of people know that.
Eitan Chitayat 53:35
People know that. As someone who is either, for example, suffering from addiction. Or it could be someone who is a struggling artist, based on things that you’ve gone through joy, which are not easy things, would you be able to share some advice with someone who might be listening now who’s going through one of those things? Whether it’s an addict, maybe, whether it’s an artist, maybe, or something entirely different? Like what advice based on your experience? Could you give someone, something that was really hard for you, maybe…
Troy Gua 54:12
Something that was really hard for me that changed everything was probably quitting my job. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. But one of the most rewarding. It was one of the hardest things because I was having this internal struggle. My dad who had passed away, you know, six years prior, he was the reason why I took the job in the first place. I thought he would think it was a really cool thing that his two sons that didn’t really get along that well, we’re going to be working together. So saying goodbye to that was terrifying because I knew in the back of my mind, my dad would have like, if he was alive, I don’t know that I would have been able to actually do that. Step away from that job and surrender myself to Katherine to you know, allow her to support me for an indefinite amount of time.
Eitan Chitayat 55:13
Because you would have defied your dad and his wishes.
Troy Gua 55:16
Yeah, I’d be defied, I guess, yeah, I guess I’d be defied not only, you know, he would just, I could hear him saying how can you can’t not have a job? How are you going to pay your bills, you know, these things are going in the back of my mind.
Eitan Chitayat 55:31
I think that this is I think, I actually think that that’s something that a lot of people can relate to, myself included, because I know, you know, I love my dad, my dad is 92. And God bless him. He’s with us. And he’s been a huge influence on me. But it’s taken a long time to kind of follow my path, and not follow his. And his path was, you know, my dad is a CFO was a CFO, very strong with economics and math, guess what joy, all the things that I wasn’t good at. I’m a writer, I’m a creative. I’ve run a business now. And I’m good with numbers, you know, how to I know how to, you know, bring home, the bacon and everything, and run a business. But that’s something that was self-taught. And, but I guess what I’m saying is, you want to please your dad. I mean, I think as a son, you know, maybe I’m making a generalization, but what I’ve heard is, and what I know is like you want to you want your dad to respect you. And a lot of that is kind of like not maybe doing what he says but wanting him to look for your dad’s approval. So it actually makes complete sense to me. When you say, when you said what you said that it was? You know, maybe it was his passing away that allowed you to move forward with your own path.
Troy Gua 56:57
Yeah, it took a while. It took a while to get there. And, again, I’m not 100% sure I could have done it had my parents, you know, been here. I it’s hard to say what would have or could have been. But I think the ultimate advice would be surrender, to help. Surrender to help, if you need help, or if someone is there offering help take it, if someone sees something in you, and they want to help you. Fan that flame that they see.
Eitan Chitayat 57:37
Listen to them.
Troy Gua 57:39
Listen to them. Because sometimes you can’t see it in yourself. Sometimes you’ve lost the ability to see that you even have that flame anymore, but others don’t. And if they can see it and point you in that direction, and kind of nurture that, that’s enormous.
Eitan Chitayat 57:57
Fucking beautiful. I’m glad I pushed a little because I think that’s so helpful. And then the other thing is also, it’s okay to be vulnerable. It’s okay to not know, the strength in that, you know, the strength and being soft, I think. I think that’s also a generational thing that we are more in touch with now. And before you had that, you know, I can do this and you know, yeah, what are you doing? You’re gonna have someone support you. Well, they’re gonna support me for a while dad, but I’m gonna make something of myself and be an artist that the people in Israel will know about.
Troy Gua 58:39
See, that’s the thing is like, I bet he’d be so proud of me now. And it’s kind of a bummer. Like this cosmic joke that neither one of my parents got to actually see me become who I was always meant to be. But um, you know, maybe they can, who knows? But it’s I’d like to believe.
Eitan Chitayat 58:58
You absolutely do. Troy, absolute pleasure. And Troy, before we go on ending on such a nice note. You already spoke about what’s coming up next. You might push people, always I want them to see what you’re doing. But say it again?
Troy Gua 59:20
Troygua.com. And Instagram, that’s like the probably the best place. So it’s just at Troy Gua on Instagram, and Facebook. It’s Troy Gua Art. So that’s my public page. Everyone, please. Now if you haven’t done it already, please check out this guy’s art buy some stuff.
Eitan Chitayat 59:38
He has a story as calendars, postcards, books, shirts. I mean, I mean, the stuff is amazing. He’s amazing and beautiful. So Troy, thank you. You’re amazing.
Troy Gua 59:58
Thank you so much, brother.
Eitan Chitayat 60:01
It’s my pleasure. My pleasure. Thank you.