Calgary artist and designer Shirley Vuong was only eight years old when she realized she wanted to create for a living.
“I didn’t want a regular job that could confine me,” Vuong told Daily Hive. “I needed to move around and create, see the world and see what was out there for me.
“I like to think outside the box and create things that you don’t usually see. I also like to use bright colors and make people smile when looking at my creations.
Vuong has kept hockey fans smiling throughout the pandemic with his Instagram series of 3D paper artworks based on different NHL teams.
“It’s a project I did during the first COVID lockdown,” explained Vuong, a longtime Calgary Flames fan.
“I’ve always wanted to create something with NHL teams because I’m a huge hockey fan and lockdown was the perfect time to create it. This was a fun project to do as it allowed me to learn more about cities and where popular items came from. »
The multi-faceted artist is also known as Elsie by fans of her work, the pseudonym helping her through a tough time in life.
“Elsie is an easy way to say LC which is short for Lemon Cake,” Vuong shared. “This name comes from a well-known restaurant that I first worked at when I was 18. Since then, it has stuck with me like glue on paper.
She says she was also battling depression, so “Elsie” became a way to escape and show her creative side.
“I feel more free when I create. When I couldn’t create, it still made me feel freer.
Vuong has experimented with a variety of disciplines, including clay, crayon, spray paint, cooking, and foam. However, paper craftsmanship is the medium that has marked him the most.
“I went to graphic design school and I remember one of my instructors showing us paper crafts,” Vuong said. “I got hooked because it was so intriguing to me. I taught myself how to make models and build sculptures, which was a big learning curve. To this day, I still learning new ways to create.
“I’m a hands-on person, so creating anything that I can physically touch is my priority. I really like seeing the end product when I’m creating because of the journey from a flat piece of paper to something that makes people say, “You did that with paper!?”
Vuong has created extraordinary 3D paper art for clients ranging from King Eddy, Choice Market and Holt Renfrew. Depending on the needs, each project can take between two weeks and six months.
“It usually takes me a few tries to find the perfect idea that would make sense to the client while showing off 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 that they can create something amazing with as little as a piece of paper.