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Meet Ellen Nguyen of ellenmayoo in Riverside

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ellen Nguyen.

So, before we jump into specific questions, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Growing up, I was always inclined to take an artistic and creative approach to life, but I never truly made art pieces with intention, originality, and purpose up until this last year. I’ve always appreciated art and loved creating for the entirety of my life, but it wasn’t until my sophomore year of high school when I took my first proper art class, Digital Arts, where I truly felt comfortable, passionate, and excited to go to class everyday. I remember the first couple of assignments my teacher was extremely encouraging and guiding, as I built my skills I never realized that I actually found such pure joy in times of creation.

Working on new assignments everyday in that class made me feel alive and for once proud of myself. I also found that I was finally doing something for myself rather than for others, a “hobby” that would allow me to express my political views, my emotions, my experiences, and overall appreciation for people and life. After taking that class, I continued to work on art pieces with different mediums finding that I definitely enjoyed digital art-making the best, leading up to the creation of my digital art portfolio/business Instagram account, @ellenmayoo. I created this account to showcase work that I was proud of, but never shared it with anyone up until 2020 when I realized that a lot of my work has something important to say. I started to post work that I was more excited than ever to make because it was activism in itself, it was able to speak for me in times that I was lost for words. Today, I am combining more and more activism with my art along with pieces that I hope bring simple joys to people.

Has it been a smooth road?
From beginning my art journey to the start of my business, I have been extremely blessed to only have encountered personal struggles and conflicts that didn’t stop me in my tracks. As a self-proclaimed perfectionist, it has been a struggle to find my own art style, and it still is today as I test new features and characteristics on every piece I make. Being able to have enough confidence to take the risk of sharing my art with other people was one of the hardest challenges I encountered in this journey, but after months of keeping my account secret, I finally realized that my art was something valid and was an outlet that allowed me to express not only my creativity but my beliefs. In choosing to create art surrounding more quote on quote controversial topics, I have found some people who have chosen to reprimand my work, even going as far to tell me I would have more business if I took several pieces of my artwork down and chose not to create pieces that were so “political”. Although this is a small roadblock and sometimes discouraging to believe that some people feel the need to express this kind of negativity, I am happy to say the art I enjoy creating the most are the ones that may seem to push barriers, make people think, and spark new ideas for hopeful change.

Please tell us more about your art.
My little sticker business is definitely my side passion project as a committed student, but nevertheless something that I pour hours of energy into. I had the idea of making stickers and prints out of my artwork for a while, but I felt inclined to really push the start button and go full speed ahead when I realized art could be used as a way to connect, educate, and impact people. I decided to start selling stickers because I realized I could actually make change with it, being able to raise money for different movements and platforms was truly something I felt passionate for, especially as a teenager who wanted to give but truly didn’t have the means. My business is just starting out, only being about a month old, but I hope to make a variety of stickers that are inspired off of movements and crises happening around the world, not only to create awareness but to be able to donate and contribute to the change that is happening.

I focus my stickers on current uprising events along with some other fun doodles that I do to keep my art flow going combined with nature, gradients, and hand lettering. I am most proud that despite being discouraged for my beliefs I continue to create and act upon these foundations, along with being a young Asian Womxn artist and owner. Not only is my ever-evolving style and combination of words, faces, and objects with art a defining factor in my business, but so is my identity, including my culture, beliefs, and openness to learning. So what sets me apart? Quite literally everything, from my intentions of educating but also bringing simple joys to my art style.

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
The large but seclusive world of small business sticker making in my eyes will probably continue to grow as more and more artists realize that their work is worthy and valid. It is clear that an innumerable amount of these business have flourished and will continue to do so. People continue to appreciate art and more light is being shined upon small business owners along with small aspiring artists, especially those who are not afraid to express what they believe in. I definitely see more and more political art coming into the spotlight as an outlet for people to display their activism and help others understand which is an extremely exciting and upcoming movement that I and numerous other artists are passionate about. I simply see growth especially as people seek to purchase from small vendors and learn to appreciate the beauty of intentionally made art.

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