Artist + painter + illustrator, open to commissions.

Oakland, California | 481 Sales


Artist + painter + illustrator, open to commissions.

Oakland, California 481 Sales On Etsy since 2009

5 out of 5 stars

Announcement   Paintings : Drawings : Collages : Originals : Prints : Custom Design :


Last updated on May 26, 2017

Paintings : Drawings : Collages : Originals : Prints : Custom Design :

Thailan When

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Thailan When

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Artist Statement:
When people ask me what my work is about, I find myself hesitant to give a straight answer. I think it's because as I take in new information, I frequently end up redefining what previously had seemed very clear to me. However, if I'm to attempt to answer this question, I should first share the story of how I came here, as it has indeed shaped my perspective and the art I make. My family escaped Vietnam in the middle of the night, embarking on a harrowing ocean voyage that took us through the Gulf of Thailand and ultimately to a refugee camp outside of Bangkok. In the journey, we were beaten by pirates, robbed of our valuables, left to drown in a sinking boat, and rescued just in time. It felt like we had lost everything all over again. I was born July 1980 in the back of a truck in a refugee camp. My earliest impressions of life were bittersweet. Mother's milk tasted of fear, determination, gratitude and hope. The fear of death, the determination to survive, gratitude for those that saved us, and the hope that there was a beautiful future somewhere for us. These emotional and psychological imprints never left me. Growing up as an immigrant, a refugee, an other, was a part of my past I could not escape, and at times I desperately wanted to. Raised in Northern California, where I was culturally and geographically isolated in the rural Sierra Nevada foothills, I developed an intense love affair with nature. There, in the woods, I didn't have to account for my differences, and this gave me the feeling of belonging that I couldn't experience at school or in the local community. I saw it as a way to connect to the ancestors of my homeland, because although I couldn't imagine them in America, I could imagine that they also swam in the river, they also once walked in the forest. When I look at my history of displacement, I realize why, from a young age I started searching for the "truth" of the human experience. Becoming intimate with my personal truth, and differentiating that from what is considered universal truth, was a way for me to understand how I ended up here... but like a snake eating it's tail, truth is impossible to grasp, own, or fully define. It is constant, changing, and cyclical, making every clue that brings you closer all the more sacred. What does it mean to be human, in the natural world, and in the society that we've created? We often distinguish ourselves as separate from nature, a distant observer, a silent overseer, and yet our past and future is one and the same, inextricably intertwined. Advanced and powerful, and in the same breath, incredibly simplistic and fragile, we try so hard to construct a reality that can hide these contradictions. My intention is to make work that feels honest... and in struggling to do so, art forces me to examine my own contradictions and find better ways to balance them, or not if I so choose... Slowly I'm discovering what kind of life I want to create. Do I want order and symmetry, or is life more interesting unstructured and irregular? The answer is both, with lots of adjustments being made along the way... For now, living in accordance with my values, and taking care to nurture the quality and depth of my relationships feels like the most ambitious creative practice I could have, one that is always in progress, and without a known destination.

Shop members

  • Thailan

    Owner, Artist

    Hello! I'm a painter, illustrator and collage artist. Born in Thailand, I grew up in the Sierra Nevada foothills and currently based out of Oakland, California. To see more work please visit

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Last updated on November 3, 2015

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Items are shipped within 2-3 business days of purchase.

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I ship First-Class Mail via USPS to keep the cost down for you. USPS First-Class Mail generally takes 2-10 business days. Please contact me before check out to discuss other options such as Priority mail which can take 3-5 business days.

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International shipping is also First-Class Mail via USPS and the time frame varies by country. In my experience shipping international has never taken longer than 3 weeks. International First-Class mail does not have tracking information.

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