May 28, 2023
Stationery lover Garry Trinh turns in
Over the past two and a half months, Garry Trinh has spent more hours in Officeworks than even the most hardcore stationery lover. But he hasn't bought a single pen. The Sydney artist decided in early
Over the past two and a half months, Garry Trinh has spent more hours in Officeworks than even the most hardcore stationery lover.
But he hasn't bought a single pen.
The Sydney artist decided in early June to combine his love of stationery with a long-held appreciation of doodling.
Known for capturing the magic in the mundane, the photographer and painter goes to a stationery store armed with a piece of paper, and uses every single sample pen or marker to create an abstract work of art.
"The idea of an artist coming in and using the sample pens to make an artwork and then leaving not buying anything, it is funny," Trinh says, grinning.
"It just gives me joy. It makes me smile. And getting away with it makes me smile."
A selection of his in-store doodles, which take one or two hours each, are on display this week at a Darlington gallery.
Speaking at one of his regular stops, Auburn Officeworks, Trinh says he likes to keep a low profile.
"I don't want to get busted. I don't want to cause any trouble for the staff. I just want to come in here, do my thing and leave."
Sometimes staff come over and ask if he needs assistance, or a security guard hovers nearby, but so far it's been hassle-free.
Before this, he spent several years admiring the doodles done by other people at the pen testing area.
"Sometimes I would take those sheets of paper because they were so beautiful and I couldn't bear thinking about them getting tossed in the bin."
Other times he would photograph what strangers had doodled.
He encourages everyone to embrace drawing as a distraction or a way out of boredom.
"You do it over the phone when you're on call waiting or you do it when you're waiting for an email or something," he says.
"That's where the inspiration came from [for this series], the unconscious mark making. It's therapeutic in a way."
He admits, however, his current approach of doing it in store is not the usual relaxing drawing experience.
"There's music, there's customers walking by and all sorts of stuff, and I have to look out for staff members who might get angry at me."
Even as he tries to do something different each time, he's noticed he has a particular doodling style.
"It's really difficult to break that instinct of just doodling where my hand wants to go"
He has become quite the expert on the range of pens at different stores in the process — he rates the four-colour pens and steers clear of gel pens.
"I like pens that have a really strong, even colour and flow."
It is the perfect project for someone as obsessed with stationery as Trinh.
"For a while there I was buying a lot of stationery. I was going and buying a lot of pastels, a lot of pencils and a lot of different stationery.
"Then one day I woke up wanting to buy stationery, I had buying stationery in my mind."
Originally, he considered buying all of the pens sold by Officeworks and creating a drawing with them at home.
Then he realised that would cost thousands of dollars, so he thought why not do it in the store without spending a cent?
Far from curing his stationery addiction, Trinh says he loves it even more and he plans to continue his doodling visits.
"Now I have a different relationship with the store. But I love coming here."
Garry Trinh's Pen Tests exhibition is on at Sheffer Gallery in Darlington until Saturday, August 26.Garry Trinh's Pen Tests exhibition is on at Sheffer Gallery in Darlington until Saturday, August 26.