By Tine Roycroft
Some artists are born, ready to spread their magic when the muse touches them. Other artists are shaped through life experiences; they take cogs of pain and wheels of happiness, reassembling them into something totally different. Then there’s Van Khai Truong, a 24 year-old musician, photographer, clothing designer and humanitarian, who was born with a host of artistic gifts and managed to develop even more along his path.
Truong, owner of Van Truong Photography and creator of Wear For Changes clothing line, first moved to the United States from Viet Nam in 2000. It had taken years of hard work, but his family had finally earned enough money to start a new life.
“In Viet Nam, we didn’t have anything,” Truong remembers. “We didn’t speak English so coming here was very surprising for my whole family. We all had to work from the ground up again.”
After graduating from Shrewsbury High School, Truong enrolled at Worcester State University. But his love of singing and his guitar skills led him to his first band, Lions Lions. The rock/pop band toured across the states and to keep up with the intense schedule, Truong chose to put college on the back burner. Then tragedy struck, bringing the musician off the road and back to his roots.
“My mom had a stroke two summers ago. She almost lost her life,” says Truong. “It hit me that I can’t be away from her. I would never want to live with the regret I would have if anything happened to my mom and I wasn’t there for her.”
Despite leaving the touring life, Truong continued with his art. He developed Wear For Changes, a clothing line filled with colors and positivity that encourages young people to help create change in the world ~ no matter how seemingly small. A portion of the proceeds is donated to the American Red Cross.
In further search of an artistic endeavor that was close to home, Truong explored his passion for photography. He had toyed around with the hobby when he first attended Worcester State University, but back then, music had taken up much of his attention. The time was now right for Truong to concentrate and perfect his photos. He soon opened Van Truong Photography.
“I‘ve worked at different fashion events, I’ve photographed models, products,” he says. “I like my pictures to have color, movement. I don’t typically have the models posed. I like them relaxed and having fun.”
Truong has recently started photographing weddings and other events. Perfection and beauty shine throughout his work. According to Truong, when “things settle down at home,” his goal is to move to California or New York City and work with professional photographers and learn as much as he can. But for right now, the artist intends to stay by his mother’s side.
“There’s no place else I want to be,” he says.