Hamburg-based queer asian designer Tra Giang Nguyen – perhaps best known by her digital pseudonym Gydient – has forged a practice that is by its very definition multidiscplinary; a definition that truly gives the Vietnam-born creative the freedom to explore a plethora of exciting avenues.
Founding Fustic.Studio with her long-standing friends and collaborators, alongside her own independent practice, Gydient has worked with the likes of Billie Eilish, Uniqlo, Adobe, Adidas and more, all the while putting her 2D, 3D, motion, graphic and type design skills to the test. “Recently, I have a big interest in generative typography,” Gydient tells us, adding to her powerful repertoire of creative skills. “Maybe combining creative coding with type design is what I’m eager to learn,” she adds, “nowadays, you can find more and more inspiration on how computational design could affect our design approach and design thinking,” she explains, finding direct inspiration within the works of John Maeda and Kyuha Shim.
This – quite often literally – systematic approach, interest and line of enquiry that Gydient finds herself captivated by innately influences the practicality of how she operates, finding the challenge of using experimental programming over ready-made softwares exciting, rewarding and progessive. “It can differentiate me from my regular habit,” Gydient explains, “changing my tool will change the way I work, and in the end the results could be extremely exciting and full of enjoyment,” she adds; laying the foundation for the meticulous, playful and thoughtful visual language of her creative practice. A visual language defined by its fundamentally undefinable pattern of concepts.
“Faced with the challenge of finding my style, I would say I don't really have any signature visual language yet,” Gydient recalls, noting her perpetual change in tastes, and the eternal urge to make something new. “For now I would say that I have the same pattern of energetic visuals with vibrant color and assertive typography,” she describes, noting the influence her hometown of Hanoi, Vietnam, has on the visuals she crafts. “Vietnam constantly mixes old and new aesthetics in something I like to call ‘the beauty of clutter,’” Gydient remarks, “with so many colors, sounds, activities and changes on the bustling streets,” driving both the outcome and the methodology of her practice, making something “more diverse and messy” in the process.
“By having skills across a wide variety of media, I can bring out different methods in my design practice,” Gydient explains, finding each discipline as exciting and impactful as the last. “Finding the merge between different principles helps me stay flexible and experimental,” she adds, noting the passion felt – and countless hours spent – designing vibrant letterforms; a sentiment clear in the fastidiousness of Gydient’s remarkable practice. “This work helped me understand the dedication a typographer has put in a typeface and how I should be careful with any decisions I make with it,” she summarises, “it's like learning to build a beautiful house but it starts with learning to make a brick.
This love, indicative of her wider practice, then translated into motion, asking herself how she could make her type design more eye-catching – finding the answer in kinetic typography. “I like making things move,” Gydient tells us, “the design through animation could become more dynamic and break the limitations of still pictures to communicate with the audience in different ways,” whilst simultaneously introducing the notion of tempo and pace to further convey the story of the type. “One thing I've learned since starting out in type design is that every detail requires your dedication,” she adds.
Following her first typeface Viaoda Antiqua, made during her first semester under mentor and type-extraordinaire Jovica Veljović, Gydient has since released a number of striking, broad and pragmatic typefaces; varying from more expressive cuts the likes of Agent Orange, to more commercial typefaces such as NTJ Sans and Gatheround. “I have changed a lot,” she tells us, discussing how her perspective has shifted since first entering the industry. “I’ve been starting to dig deeper into the topic of generative typography,” she notes, creating systems and creative coding that generate unique typeface styles. “It will open many more opportunities to improve my practice in designing visual identity,” she adds, “generative art and computational design is not new anymore but still a black box for me to look into.”
Looking holistically at her practice, Gydient suggests the rewarding nature of uncertainty; learning the fallacy that there is a set destination for creativity – be it limiting one's work through definition, or predicting a project’s outcome. “Success should just be the thing that you collect on the way as you grow,” Gydient explains, “it shouldn’t be the goal, enjoying what you do is more important,” she concludes, “the right attitude will get you to the place you never imagined,” and will be all the better for it.