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Sir Daniel Winn: From Refugee to Renowned Artist and Filmmaker, Pioneering “Existential Surrealism”

Sir Daniel Winn is an artist of extraordinary vision and talent, known for his pioneering contributions to the world of fine art and film.



Fabian Lopez

His critically-acclaimed short film “Creation,” lauded by Variety, is set to become a trilogy, culminating in a feature-length version that will delve deeper into his unique artistic philosophy, “Existential Surrealism.” This philosophy, which posits that creation begins where destruction ends, will be explored in the prequel and sequel to “Creation.” The original “Creation” premiered to great acclaim at the Asian World Film Festival in 2022, drawing comparisons to the experimental, Kubrick-style films of the past.

Born in war-torn Vietnam, Sir Daniel Winn came to America as a refugee in 1975. Initially pursuing a career in medicine, Winn made the bold decision to follow his true passion: art. This choice led him to develop “Existential Surrealism,” a philosophy that not only defines his own work but has also helped elevate other artists to blue-chip museum status. His art has been showcased in prestigious exhibitions worldwide, including The Met and Bowers Museum.

In addition to his artistic endeavors, Winn is a successful entrepreneur. He co-founded Winn Slavin Fine Art, with locations on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, as well as in Shanghai and Vietnam, alongside his husband, Randall J. Slavin. His contributions to the art world are matched by his philanthropic efforts. He has been knighted by the Princely House of Schaumburg-Lippe-Nachod for his extensive charitable work in the U.S. and Asia, and he was named “Philanthropic Artist of the Year” by the Hollywood NEST Foundation.

Sir Daniel Winn continues to push boundaries in both art and film, blending his passion for quantum physics, philosophy, and surrealism to create works that challenge and inspire. His journey from Vietnamese refugee to renowned artist and philanthropist is a testament to his resilience, creativity, and unwavering commitment to his craft.


Can you tell us a little about yourself and what you do?

Im an artist, curator, and philanthropist in the art world.

What inspired you to pursue your career?

I’ve always felt that my purpose in life was to leave a positive influence on others before I depart this world. Initially, I aspired to be a reconstructive surgeon to help people to heal physically. But my passion has always been in in the arts. I feel I have an innate ability to give back to the world creatively and that people can be healed through may art, so that’s where I decided to focus my energy. 

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career, and how did you overcome it?

The biggest challenge is communicating my message universally through art. With so many languages in the world, creating a visual language that transcends all barriers has been a significant hurdle. I’ve strived to create a language that everyone, regardless of their spoken language, can understand so that I my message of universal truth could be conveyed.

How do you stay motivated and focused on your goals?

I find that opinions from others on my artwork help me to gain insight that fuels my creativity. Meditating helps me internalize and visualize, which is motivating too. Once I’m motivated, my creativity just explodes. I have so many ideas. It’s exciting to the point that I can’t sleep until I’ve manifested the ideas into their physical form.

Can you tell us a bit about your trilogy film project?

The trilogy film project consists of three short films representing birth, life, and death. It utilizes performance art and visual expression without dialogue. The aim is to convey universal truths about existence and the omniverse. My goal is to provoke thought and stimulate viewers to contemplate the deeper aspects of life. I have a great director, Jordan Schulz, who will realize my vision on film, with writer Andrew Crème, who can put that vision into words. Once the trilogy is complete, our plan is to expand on this foundation and develop a feature film that builds upon the themes explored in the three shorts.

We understand you also have an upcoming biopic in the works. Can you tell us about that?

My life has been a tumultuous journey which has captured the interest of Hollywood directors and producers. A book is currently in the works that delves into my experiences, and plans are underway for a feature biopic about my life. I’ve chosen award-winning director Georges Chamchoum to lead the project. The movie centers around my journey through war, becoming an orphan, homelessness, and ultimately finding success in the United States. The story explores the impact of war from a child’s perspective. It will shed light on the broader issues of war, famine, and chaos. It not only looks at the conflict but also delves into the experiences of an innocent child. It’s less about the artist and more about the deeper questions in life. My hope is that it will open the eyes of the audience to see from the perspective of a child the enduring effects of war.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned in your career journey so far?

The most significant lesson is understanding that life on this earth is brief. It’s a fleeting moment, not even a blink of the eye in the grand scheme of our universe. What I’ve come to realize is that we need to really embrace our purpose here and make a positive impact on others. There are so many uncertainties and unanswered questions about our existence. And I believe that ultimately all will be revealed. But I also believe that in order to comprehend the ultimate unveiling in the next phase of our existence, we must understand our present realm—our existence, our purpose, and the positive impact we can make here and now.

How do you define success?

“Success, to me, is feeling that I’ve positively impacted others and that I contribute to humanity on a daily basis. If my actions make people’s lives better and more meaningful, then I feel I have succeeded.”

What is your biggest dream and how are you working towards achieving it?

I want to impact the world. I want to leave behind a profound, clear, and succinct message that resonates with people after I’ve departed. I want to connect with future generations on a deeper, spiritual level—to leave behind a legacy that resonates universally. This, to me, is the essence of my biggest dream, and I’m actively working towards realizing it before my time in this world concludes.

How has your faith or spirituality played a role in your career?

My faith and spirituality undergo a continual evolution as I mature. People mature at varying rates, whether over a decade or a lifetime, and for me, the maturation of my spirituality is intertwined with my creativity. The ability to visually communicate through various art forms, whether that’s fine art or cinema, serves as a profound learning tool. Through the act of creation and embracing my own messages, I’m provided insights that contribute to the development of my faith and spirituality. It’s reciprocal—a sort of catch-22. The more I create, the clearer my understanding becomes of my purpose in this world. This purpose, in turn, informs my spirituality and faith, which is what I aspire to convey and leave behind for the world.

Who is your biggest inspiration, and why?

Inspiration comes from various sources, including daily life, mother nature, mathematics, physics, and philosophy. But I’d say that my life partner, Randall J. Slavin, is my most significant source of inspiration. Having someone who supports and guides me emotionally has been essential to my life and my artistic journey.

How do you maintain a healthy work-life balance?

A healthy balance involves physical, emotional, and mental well-being. I prioritize adequate sleep, regular exercise, positive thinking, and meditation. Taking care of my overall health allows me to sustain my creativity. Nutrition isn’t just for the body—it’s also for mental well-being. I strive to strike a balance that sustains both my physical and mental health as well as my creativity.

What advice would you give to someone just starting out in your field?

For aspiring artists, I recommend staying focused, learning how to embrace criticism, and to maintain or cultivate qualities like tenacity and perseverance. It’s essential not to be discouraged by setbacks. And you have to believe in yourself. The art journey is challenging. It’s not an easy route. But with determination, success is attainable.

What is something that people often misunderstand about your work?

I often say, “Never judge a book by its cover,” and the same goes for my work. A picture is worth a thousand words, and those words can be interpreted in various ways. I want viewers to see a reflection of themselves in my creations. Sometime when people view my work in a negative way, it’s possible it’s because of something in their life that has negatively impacted them. But if they take a deeper look, it’s possible they could uncover a silver lining. My goal is that my art, whether sculptures, paintings, or cinema, encourages the viewer to reflect on themselves and to consider the bigger picture and to embrace who they are, what they perceive, and how they want to approach life as a result.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your work?

The most rewarding moments are when I see viewers intensely engaged in my artwork. Witnessing their connection is so fulfilling. Sometimes they get very emotional and even tear up. Seeing these reactions without them realizing, and knowing that my message has been conveyed, is very rewarding. This aligns with my goal to make a positive impact on others.

What is something you’re passionate about outside of your work?

I’m passionate about traveling the world and helping others, especially in orphanages. My own experiences drive me to give back and try to provide opportunities for those who may have faced similar challenges to mine.

What is your most valuable skill learned in your career?

Communication, specifically the ability to convey my philosophy universally in a visual language. I speak four languages, but I feel that learning how to communicate in a universal language, which is infinite, in my opinion, is my biggest accomplishment.

What is something you wish you knew when you were just starting out in your career?

I wish I had known more about the art industry, which is unique. I wish I’d taken the time to understand it better before diving in. It’s like jumping into the middle of the ocean without testing the waters first. I feel like I jumped right into the deep end and had to learn to swim on the go. Unfortunately, there’s no proper training for it. I wish there were so it wouldn’t have felt like I was being thrown into the ocean with sharks right from the start.

How do you deal with failure or setback?

I’ve heard this idea that failure is essentially success inside out, and it’s something I take to heart. If I dwell too much on failure, it can get me down and even hold me back from pursuing more. Now I view it as the universe giving me a lesson and guiding me to the right path. So, the term “failure” doesn’t really have a place in my vocabulary. It’s just a part of the journey that helps you to understand what success is, because there would be no sweet without the sour, no life without death, no light without dark. And clearly there is no success without failure. Failure isn’t something inherently negative. Failure is just part of the journey to success.

How do you see yourself and your career evolving in the future?

“The evolution of my career is an unknown factor that I entrust to the universe. I don’t try to control it. I feel my evolution is something influenced by a higher force. It’s like the universe is directing me, and I’m genuinely excited to see where it leads.”

How do you give back to your community or make a positive impact in the world?

My way of giving back aligns with my philosophy. Instead of being a doctor and healing people physically, I feel that leaving behind my artwork with its philosophical message can be a form of healing for many. Even if I’m not around in the future, generations to come can still benefit from it. And while I’m here, I make an effort to support orphanages, elderly homes, and various charities. It feels like, with the success that I’ve achieved, that helping out is a big part of why I’m alive. If I can make a difference, I consider that a success in my mission. And looking ahead I believe that leaving something meaningful behind through my art can continue to heal and inspire future generations and help them to embrace and learn from the universal language I’ve created.


“Celebrating Impactful Achievements Across Various Fields”

DIZZYDIDDY+MAG has launched a new initiative called “Face of the Week,” which aims to showcase the achievements of men and women who are making an impact in various fields, including entrepreneurship, entertainment, education, communication, and more. Each week of the year, from January to December, a new face will be introduced to the public through DIZZYDIDDY+MAG’s platform.

Many of these faces of the week will also be honored at the Crownys, which are the DIZZYDIDDY+MAG Awards and where all the faces and people who worked or partnered with DIZZYDIDDY+PLUS will be celebrated. The ultimate goal of this initiative is to give recognition and exposure to individuals who are making a positive difference in their respective fields.

The initiative will culminate with the release of a printed magazine in December for the Face Of The Year.

By highlighting the achievements of these individuals, DIZZYDIDDY+MAG hopes to inspire and encourage others to pursue their passions and make a positive impact in the world.