08 Nov 2021Mont Marte

After 13 years, Ann Nguyen left her job as a lawyer in pursuit of a more creative life. Swapping an office for a studio, the Brisbane artist now combines her green thumb with her love of painting. Ann paints vibrant, bold colours of blue, purple, pink and yellow onto pots and canvases under the name “The Artful Grimmer.”

We spoke with featured artist, The Artful Grimmer about how she first got into the business and how she remains creative, as a busy mum of 3.

Artful grimmer in her studio holding colourful pot plants.

How would you describe yourself?

I am a colour-loving artist from Brisbane, Australia. I live with my creative tribe of five: my husband Anthoney, three kids Austin, Rhys and Sienna, pug Archie, cat Enoki, and a growing collection of indoor plant babies. I am a fan of bright and happy art, and a lover of all things sparkly. You can usually find me painting, procraftinating (procrastinating with craft) or going on adventures with my family.

How did you get involved in art?

I have loved art and craft since I was little. I was always that kid with pipe cleaners, pom poms and a glue gun. I dropped art as a subject in high school because I thought I had to focus on 'serious' subjects to prepare for law school. Then during the thirteen years I worked as a lawyer I didn't have much time for art and it became a hobby I indulged in only every now and then. I eventually left my career in law in search of adventure and quality of life, and I am grateful now to be doing what I love every day.

Ann in a blue denim jacket holding a blue artwork with pink leaves painted on it.

How did you develop your own style?

I'm really drawn to bright colours, bold shapes and shiny metallics so that's naturally where my style goes. Sometimes I might be inspired by a pattern in the concrete of a sidewalk. Or the colours in an outfit in a store window. The other day I stopped to snap a photo of some gift wrap in a shop because I saw a shape I liked. I love exploring new places because it sparks all kinds of inspiration and creativity for me. The more I see, the more inspired I am.

What drove you to venture into terracotta pots?

Like many people across the world, I discovered my green thumb during the pandemic in 2020 and started painting terracotta pots to house my growing indoor jungle. I then painted them for my friends and family, and before long I was painting them for fellow plant lovers all around Australia and the world.

Salmon pink pot painted with orange and pink flowers with purple and red leaves.

How do you steer a project that’s not going as expected?

If something I create doesn't go according to plan, I take a break and come back to it later. I almost always feel more positive about my project after I have had some space from it. I can then decide to fix it or start over. Art is wonderful for mental health and perspective. It has taught me not to be too attached to a particular outcome, and to trust my creativity when it comes to problem-solving too.

What’s the most exciting project you’ve worked on so far?

I was thrilled to work with Mont Marte on a series of videos showcasing creative projects to try at home. My family and I have been huge fans of Mont Marte for decades and we spend countless hours making and creating together. To be able to share our projects with people is a dream come true. I think everyone can be, and already is, creative - these videos will help people choose the right tools and equipment to make creating fun.

Ann in a black dress holding a colourful canvas with a petal design.

What are the best tips you’ve learned coming into the industry?

Stay focused on what’s important to you and don't be distracted by what others think you should be doing. If you want to try a different medium or style of art, do it. If you want to turn your art into merchandise, go for it. Workshops, market stalls, DIY kits. If the idea excites you, that's a great sign. Grow in the areas important to you; even if that means pivoting or changing from what you have done so far. Your supporters will love watching you grow, and you'll probably earn some new fans along the way.

How do you juggle your time being a creative and a mum of 3?

I try to be creative whenever I can, whether that's exploring a new place, taking a great photo, jotting down new ideas, or trying a new recipe. The kids all love being involved in new things, and they really enjoy art and craft at home. It’s nice not to just be an observer in this aspect of their lives. Instead of watching them from afar at gymnastics or soccer training, I get to cut and glue and paint right alongside them. I get to help them make Halloween costumes or create a cardboard fort for our cat. I think these creative problem-solving skills will give them confidence to navigate the challenges they will face as adults.

Ann in a bright jellyfish dress holding a yellow painted pot plant.

Do you have a favourite Mont Marte product?

It's a three-way tie between the products I use most often: the acrylic paints, acrylic paint pens and the acrylic paintbrushes!

What are you excited about for the future?

I have always been excited about inspiring people to be creative. I get a thrill every time I see someone creating something unique or different or completely outside the box. I am excited to watch people embark on their own artistic journeys.

On a personal level, there are so many things I'd like to learn - how to pour paint, sculpt with polymer clay, use oil paints, and punch-needle. I am looking forward to exploring different mediums and growing creatively. 

Ann in a purple leopard print jumper holding a matching pot plant.

We hope Brisbane artist, The Artful Grimmer, has inspired you to create. Try one of these projects and create an organic shape painting with The Artful Grimmer or paint a plant pot in acrylics!

Show us what you create and share your projects with us! #montmarteart or tag @montmarteart on Instagram or Facebook.

Or check out more of our featured artists here.