Emerging Visual Artists: Lisa Tran Kelly

We’d like to introduce you to the artists that have turned out some amazing designs during this program, including Lisa Tran Kelly, a multi-disciplinary artist who utilises mediums such as pencil, ink, acrylics, oils and gold-leaf.

As a part of Visible Ink’s Enterprise program, we support young and emerging visual artists to scale their work to suit large sites and submit an Expression of Interest. This year five young artists worked with Jugglers and Brightsiders to submit their EOI to Brisbane Canvas. They were successful in their designs being incorporated over two sites during the Brisbane Street Art Festival.


You first got involved with Visible Ink through the Visible Ink Emerging Visual Artists (EVA) program, what was that like?

I had actually visited Visible Ink briefly a few other times as one of my friends volunteered there hosting workshops. I really enjoyed our time at Vis Ink for the program and found the rooms and materials available awesome. It’s a really inspiring space and making simple things like printing, scanning and art materials readily accessible to youth is a really fantastic idea that can help build the grounds for creative support and motivation. Knowing that I can access this place when I need to is something I’m very grateful to have in Brisbane and gives me a huge sense of hope for the future development of emerging artistic communities within the city.

The same goes for my experience with the EVA program. It was really valuable to have mentors taking us through elements of making Council-level applications and how to scale up our works. It was a great opportunity to be able to meet up with other like-minded emerging artists and work alongside them as well.

What are you currently working on, project-wise?

Currently I am working on a few different projects. I’m creating a mural with Brienne Aspinall for Brisbane Street Art Festival and have an upcoming group exhibition (“Art with Heart”) showcased at Juggler’s Art Space that will be raising funds for the Asylum Seeker Refugee Centre in the same month. So I am creating a series of paintings and gold-leaf wood blocks that represent the values of my Vietnamese heritage and the expectations and sacrifices made for me and my younger brother. As well as this, seeking to explore the extreme differences in lifestyles and times and generally the impact of experience that immigration and assimilation has on the persons involved and our broader Australian community.

What do you do and why did you choose to go down this path? What do you love about it?

I have an undergrad in Psychology and am currently completing my Masters in Social Work. I’ve always practised art on the side and have had opportunities to combine both interests plenty of times through an art residency with Brisbane City Council and work for the Queensland Eating Disorder Day program.  For work I am a disability support worker and occasionally fulfil speaking roles for The Eating Issues Centre.

While I love art and it is a huge focus in my life, in choosing what to study I have always wanted to use the privileges I have to learn skills and techniques to help the people most disadvantaged in society. I love building connections with others and making a positive difference in the community and hope to eventually build a career that combines artistic practise with these principles.

What would you say led you to where you are today?

Mental health and recovery are themes that go hand in hand with creativity so it can be a natural relationship. And while I’ve studied in the human services fields I feel like in many ways my non-art-related study has really driven my thirst for practising art as I’ve had to work hard to create and pursue artistic opportunities while still focusing on study, placements and support work roles. I have always been greatly inspired by my grandmother who is a brilliant artist and art teacher and who has taught me the value of practising art and immersing yourself in the world because with an artistic perspective beauty and meaning can be found within everything.

Is there any advice you wish you’d been given before you started in this field?

I think one of the biggest things that has come up in commissioning is determining pricing point as an emerging artist starting the first few big, important jobs. There isn’t a union that sets the minimum rate for producing an art work or large art job so I’ve struggled with pricing my work fairly and have finished a few jobs feeling exploited in the past. I’ve been lucky to have professional artists as friends and mentors who I can contact for guidance in this area but I wish I had been aware earlier of how to assert myself and had some better reference to inform my commission prices. I would definitely say before agreeing to a price on a large job to seek advice and perspective  from others in your industry.

What do you get up to in your down time? 

In my down time when I’m not studying or painting – music, playing Zelda, or being outdoors swimming in some body of water. I love playing music. I have a harp, electric guitar and ukulele I love to dabble with and an old piano I’ve played since I was seven.

How would you suggest young people get involved in similar opportunities such as EVA?

I suggest to look out for opportunities via ArtsGuide Brisbane, local galleries in your area and art universities. There are so many great opportunities out there it’s always worth getting involved and putting yourself out there.

Where can people get in touch with you? 

You can find my artworks @themoongallery on Instagram, on my website  lisatrankelly.wixsite.com/website or Facebook @themoongalleryartbylisa. Lisa’s upcoming mural as a part of Brisbane Street Art Festival and funded by Brisbane Canvas will be open for viewings Sunday 15 April, 10am-4pm at Sherriff Street, Petrie Terrace.