By Spectrum Staff - January 21, 2019

Michelle Nguyen created the art that's featured on the cover of Spectrum vol. 61. Order a copy here to see it in person, and to read the fabulous work of all our contributors.

Q: What was the inspiration behind your painting featured on Spectrum's most recent cover? Is this an image of anyone in particular?

The inspiration behind it was a reflection of hard times we go through as human beings and the pain, loneliness and suffering behind it all. He's reaching out for help in his own way. He is hoping that someone will understand him and let him in. The drawing is of no one in particular. I think he reveals the true inner conflict within himself through his emotions and expressions.

Q: If you could pick one emotion on the man’s face in the portrait, what would it be?

I think it would be pain. There is an underlying pain in his eyes. He beams his emotions through them.

Q: What details did you add that make the image more human? How did you go about deciding on those details?

The details that I added was the scarring tissue on his face. I feel that giving him more texture and scarring will make him look more human. I added them with layer by layer with my color pencils.

Q: Can you talk a little about how asymmetry plays into the painting?

I think the lack of perfection in his face as well as the a symmetry makes him more relatable as a human being. The imperfections make him whole as a person. I wanted to give him a bit of discoloration to add to it all as well.

Q: What do you think makes this piece a good fit for Spectrum? Did you envision this being the cover?

This will make a great cover for the magazine because I think it entails our struggles in a way through our every day life. Life isn't meant to be perfect. It's meant to be lived through our trials and tribulations. The face of my drawing, his scars and all represent for me a journey that we all go through. I actually never envisioned this ended up being the cover and I am absolutely ecstatic and so blessed to have the opportunity to share my work with everyone.

Q: Is this piece typical of your style, or did you go outside your own box a little bit?

This piece is definitely my style. All my portraits are a bit of self reflection of myself. Depending on the time that I am drawing, my portraits are a representation of those times. My thoughts and emotions during that period are what changes my style with each drawing. He was definitely a challenge for me to draw though. To be able to bring out what I felt like he was feeling through his skin and the tears coming down took quite a bit of time for me. The drawing took about 60 hours to do.

Q: How would you say your personal style has developed in the time you’ve been creating art?

Well, I started three years ago. I lost my father and other stuff was happening to me during that period of time. I was really searching for a purpose in my life and also a way to take my mind off everything. Someone had came into my life and influenced me to try to start drawing and I did. It became therapeutic for me. I've never been someone who had an easy way of expressing themselves and I feel like through my art, I actually can. I can tell my story through my work so as I go through my life, I think my style will change depending on the periods in my life. My style mainly focuses on the raw forms of human emotions at the moment but who knows where life will take me next.

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