Inspiration: Art & Architecture

Published by Catherine Nguyen

I’ve itched to travel for as long as I can remember; the inspiration I find in faraway places is incalculable; however, there's no single place that ignites my love for art and architecture. Rather, the collective experience of exploring different places itself sparks my creativity. The Canary Islands, Mallorca, Tokyo, Kyoto, Paris, Normandy, London, and Italy – some of the amazing places I’ve visited all tell a story through art and architecture. 

The Canary Islands left my husband and I in awe of ancient cave dwellings built into the rolling mountainsides. It’s incredible to think that one of those 500-year-old-caves is now a restaurant where we enjoyed the most delightful meal.  Then there's Palma, a vibrant city on the island of Mallorca contrasting with the rustic charm of Valldemossa's homes, adorned with green shutters and brown rooftops. It's like stepping into a painting by Cezanne.  And then, Tokyo—a modern metropolis blending traditional and contemporary architecture. The towering glass Prada building in Aoyama, designed by Herzog & De Meuron was one of my favorite sights.  It’s such an architectural masterpiece.

Kyoto charmed me with its timeless temples and ryokans. It's like going back in time to a world of elegance and grace. And who can forget Paris? Parisian architecture is distinct: Haussmanian buildings and a lack of skyscrapers, the many bridge crossings along the Seine, the glittering lights at dusk and night—all unforgettable. Normandy, London, Italy—each place has its own charm, and each has left its mark on my creative soul. From a 15th-century ornate gothic mansion in Normandy to the artistic diversity of London's architecture, the buildings tell stories of a different time and people.

As I enjoy and appreciate art and cultures from all around the world, those experiences begin to inspire and influence my own passion as well.  When I encounter art that resonates with me, I am invigorated. I begin envisioning new techniques to possibly infuse into my own work.

The most magical part is immersing myself in the different places that art and architecture take me.  Standing before da Vinci's sketches at the Portrait Gallery in London, I found myself imagining the artist’s hand in motion. The thought of each pencil stroke, full of intention and purpose, gave me chills and a deep appreciation for the creative geniuses of the past.

Perhaps what brings me the most joy is inspiring others through my lens. When I photograph interiors and architecture, I'm not just capturing spaces—I'm telling stories. Working with builders, architects, designers, and stylists allows me to understand the soul of each space and bring out its essence in my images. A well-placed piece of furniture or a bit of negative space can make all the difference, and it's this attention to detail that creates a powerful impact on viewers. I focus intently on the compositions of my images, ensuring that the viewer’s eye moves through the image in an interesting way; incorporating negative space where needed, balancing the height and spacing of objects and furniture. When someone sees an image of mine, I want them to be transported to the space that my clients have created.

I consider myself lucky to work with incredible artists and designers like Caroline Lizarraga. Her mastery of color and innovative techniques has opened new creative avenues for me.  She is a master at color and is always on the cutting edge of new techniques. I have been fortunate to photograph many of her projects through the years. Recently, she painted walls for me as well as two of my clients, Lauren Burns Interiors and Demi Ryan. Each painted with completely different palettes and techniques, yet each produced equally inspiring results. Collaborating with brilliant designers, architects, and builders continually pushes my boundaries and expands my horizons.

Inspiration can strike anywhere, any time.  I’m grateful for the opportunity to travel the world and explore art and architecture and can’t wait for the next journey where I can be inspired and hopefully inspire others. 

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