Antoin Huynh (@nvml), otherwise known as Twan, is a talent that we've been watching develop and increase in talent over the years. His work is as diverse as you'll find on Instagram but consistent in crispness and tone. We've genuinely enjoyed seeing how he uses Mextures on nearly every picture in subtle ways that draw out natural colors and work to sharpen his always gorgeous photographs. We recently spent some time with him to uncover the secrets of his creativity in life, photography, and also his Mextures use. Read along for more!
The Basic Truths:
My name is Antoin Huynh, but most call me Twan!
I'm technically trained as a graphic designer. Home grown photographer / videographer / multimediagrapher; whatever medium speaks to me, I let it drive.
I’m a night owl, a conspiracy theorist, a foodie, a dreamer, and a pretend time traveler.
I am Midwest born and raised, but my spirit always belonged to the wild wild west.
Some Loves : sunsets, Seinfeld, grandma’s cooking, and brand new socks.
Some Hates : my lactose intolerance, debbie downers, dead batteries, and wet socks.
Noteworthy : I once licked the Oscar Mayer WeinerMobile, just to say that I did.
What first interested you in photography?
Well, I’ve always been around cameras and technology. My dad always had the newest toys and my mom really loved documenting us, the kids, along with her awesome garden! But if I have to narrow it down to one major influence, I would say that it would be Pokemon Snap for Nintendo 64. I think I was 13 when it came out. It’s not that great of a game. It was all based on taking photos of Pokemon for points! Although quite primitive, it sparked something in me. It gave me that feeling to chase. After that I started borrowing my dad’s gear and making images and little movies in the real world!
What has been your favorite photograph to capture so far and what makes it your favorite?
My favorite photo I’ve captured… that’s a tough one. I kind of have this weird relationship with my photos. I love them so much in the present, but in a few days I’ll be sick of them, and then later down the road I have such a great nostalgia about them! Everything I post is so emotionally connected to me so I like or dislike them for completely crazy reasons. And now with Instagram, I am able to chronicle my crazy life in a way I never could before. I can look back and completely understand where my life was… where my head and my heart were.
I would have to say that at this moment in time, this is my favorite photo. I just took it today (October 17th). I don’t know if I can explain it very well, but right now is such an insane time in my life. It’s like a little bookmark on my time line. Plus, I love the fall so there’s that.
What does your editing process typically look like?
When it comes to editing, for Instagram specifically, I’ll either take the photo on my phone or my SLR (I’d say there’s a 30/70 split leaning towards the DSLR) and then take it into SnapSeed, to edit out any weird artifacts or boost some very small things. After that I import to VSCO and grab a couple very subtle settings, and then I always finish strong with Mextures. Now I used to use Mextures overlays from back in the day, before the app. I would download those and mess with them on Photoshop.
But now, with this new fangled app, I have all the power at my finger tips, PLUS more. I used to lay on all the different filters! If you look at my early work, it was all very contrast-y and effect heavy. Now, I go for the more subtle approach. I tinker with sharpness and tune with the tones to get just the right feeling. Very light approach these days. I think it’s a reflection of my life in a way. Back then you can tell that I was kinda dark and a little bit more angry. But now I feel like things are kind of clearing up and there’s a lightness about life. I completely attribute all of that to moving out of the midwest and to the west coast. I’ve lived in a lot of places over the years and moving out here has been the best decision of my life. I finally feel like I’m in the right place at the right time, the same goes for my artwork.
What aspects of Mextures have you found work best with your editing style?
Right now X-FILM is my favorite way to add tones to my darks and from time to time I like to kick it old school and explore the Grit and Grain textures with different Blending Modes! The ADJUSTMENTS menu is so powerful and is one of the reasons why I always finish with Mextures. It gives me just the right amount of control!
Would you be willing to share a few of your formulas with the Mextures crowd?
I made a few formulas. They're not very crazy or mind blowing, but they're subtle and colorful - just right up my alley.
NVMLSKYWALKER - TUTRFBX NVMLPEOPLE - BVWJZMS NVMLGRAD- EEJCXTL NVMLFLOWER - XDNBKMD
What is it that inspires you to create?
I think it's the act of creating that inspires me to create! It's the journey, the process, that I enjoy. Being concentrated and focused in the moment, figuring it all out, and being able to take something away from that moment is a super interesting concept. It's like proof of life. Now I sound like Matthew McConaughey from True Detective....
Also, all of you jabronis at Mextures, the people at Instagram, and this thing called the Internet! Having the world at your fingertips and being able to see artwork and experience what creative minds have shared and discussed, all from the other side of the world! THAT inspires me. THAT is magic. Now I sound old. I was JUST chatting with my friends about if there was YouTube or Instagram when I was in high school. It would have been crazy.
Who are the people that have inspired you the most and how have they inspired you?
I would say my parents and my family inspire me. They went through so much, escaping the Vietnam War, to get to the US and against all odds to find a better life for the future. It’s incredible what they overcame and I can’t imagine being in their shoes. It’s incredible and it puts a lot into perspective when I think I’m having a bad day. Their story reminds me that anything is possible if you work hard!
As far as Instagram goes, I feel like these people, in some way, inspired or influence me on a daily basis. It’s not always about the pretty pictures, but it can also be about who the person is or what their message says.
Influencers and Inspiring Peoples for TWAN:
@brain.matter - she is a close friend and I am so proud of what she’s overcome to get to where she is. She taught me all about PMA (positive mental attitude).
@caseyneistat - role model of mine and genuine artist. I hope to meet him some day.
@maysgrafx - for his unreal vibes and stellar concepts.
@dennistheprescott - because I love food.
@btoddrichards - childhood snowboarding idol.
@marissaaross - because she’s my homie and she’s the hardest hustler in the wine game.
Do yourself a favor and check out more of Twan’s photography here!