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CollagePhotography Brian Vu

Brian Vu’s fantastical photos open up a world of limitless possibilities


TextDominic Cadogan

The New York-based multimedia artist has captured the likes of Aquaria, Kim Petras, and Jazelle as well as creating colourful looks on himself

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Colourful, impactful, and fantastical are the foundation of Brian Vu’s incredible photos. The New York-based multimedia artist – mainly working in the medium of photography – has made a name for himself capturing the creative and LGBTQ+ community around him. 

“Working with people and the individuality of everyone in my community is what drives me to do what I do,” Vu explains on the inspiration behind his images, that have featured the likes of Aquaria, Kim Petras, Cupid, Jazzelle Zanaughtti, Laurel Charleston, and Vile Sánchez. “We’re constantly bouncing ideas off of each other on a daily basis.” 

When he’s not photographing other people, Vu turns the lens on himself, creating incredible looks that are as equally eye-catching as those he captures from behind the camera. Think flowers blooming from the skin, playful smileys, or important messages urging people to vote

“Working with people and the individuality of everyone in my community is what drives me to do what I do. We’re constantly bouncing ideas off of each other on a daily basis” – Brian Vu 

In addition to his photography and make-up looks, Vu is also the co-founder of Brian Beauty, a brand he started after his partner and co-founder Nyle Fisher suggested it and is the direction he wants to see the industry heading in. “(Brian Beauty) stands for limitless experimentation and alternative visual expression,” he says, also stressing the importance of racial and gender inclusivity as a given. “We are continuing to design products and visuals that exemplify our creative language,” he says on his plans to continue growing the brand. “We intend to excite our community in terms of design and performance.” 

Here, we speak to Brian about his favourite image, eyebrow transplants, and why he identifies with Pokemon’s Mew. 

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and where you grew up?

Brian Vu: I’m a multimedia artist who mainly focuses on photography. I grew up as a first generation Vietnamese-American. After college in California, I moved to New York and began my career here. 

What is it you do and how did you get into it?

Brian Vu: I don’t like to fully label myself as it’s continually changing. Right now, I’m focusing on photography and make-up. Photography feels so natural to me; I have to capture and document my ideas and this art form is as immediate as it gets. With make-up, I started because all of my friends and subjects were really into it so I began practicing and practicing.  

What are you trying to communicate through your work and why?

Brian Vu: I want to document the wonderful people in my community, their integrity, and their talent. There’s an energy there that’s difficult to describe. I aim to present beauty in unconventional ways too. I share work that feels true to me. Artwork that opens up possibilities. 

Can you talk us through some of your favourite images? 

Brian Vu: One of my favorite portraits is the photograph of Cupid with the chain look. Though the image is composed and staged, there’s a ton of emotional value there for me. I felt like it was easier to see eye to eye with collaborators afterwards. I expect nothing but the best when people come into my studio and I try to work with people who give it their all to create work that we can both be truly proud of. 

What’s been your career highlight so far and what do you hope to accomplish ultimately?

Brian Vu: My cover of King Kong was a major moment for me. It was wild to see a magazine that I respect take a chance and give me full creative freedom. Right now, I’m just happy with continuing to create and not expecting anything. As long as I see growth within my work and personal self, I’m content. 

What are you working on at the moment? 

Brian Vu: I’m working on a major video project right now documenting some new make-up looks. It’s going to be a huge moment for me. I can’t say much more about it just yet. 

What does beauty mean to you?

Brian Vu: Confidence in oneself is everything.

Describe your beauty aesthetic in three words.

Brian Vu: Colourful, thoughtful, and sickening. 

How do you assert your identity and experiences through your beauty?

Brian Vu: By documenting not only myself, but the people I’m surrounded by unapologetically. 

What’s your favourite smell and why?

Brian Vu: Lavender. It smells so cute. 

Which fictional character do you most relate to and why?

Brian Vu: Mew from Pokemon. I feel like Mew is so powerful. It’s psychic, it’s playful, and it’s mysterious.

When do you feel most beautiful?

Brian Vu: When I’m working on my art – it’s when I feel the most free. 

How do you want to change the world?

Brian Vu: Queer it up! 

You’re the editor of a time-travelling beauty journal 100 years from now, what beauty trends are you reporting on? 

Brian Vu: Character customisation and cybernetic body mods. 

If you had to choose one surgical enhancement, what would it be and why?

Brian Vu: Do they do brow hair transplants? My brows are so thin, I would like fuller ones please. 

It is the sixth day and you are creating humans. They can look however you want them to. What do they look like and why?

Brian Vu: Give them wings, humans should be able to fly and not have to walk. 

Would you rather live forever as an old person or live your life in reverse?

Brian Vu: I’d do reverse. It’d be interesting to be a child with all the knowledge and experience of an adult. 

What is the future of beauty?

Brian Vu: Freedom of expression without the confines of society, racial inclusivity, and it’s non-binary.

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