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LINH NGUYEN

LINH NGUYEN

LINH NGUYEN Interview

LINH NGUYEN

Children's Illustrator

Who or what made you want to become an illustrator?

In 2015, I started my Master's Degree in Animation in the UK. During the second semester, I attended an animation contest with one of my classmates. After 2 and a half months of working on this project, our animation was selected as joint runner-up in the Judge's Award Category. Following this event, my teacher said that my designs were very distinctive and that I should focus on developing my skills as a character designer or a background artist not only in animation but also in other fields. After finishing my course, I realized that illustration was something I actually wanted to pursue. 

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What makes a good children’s book?

I think a children's book needs to have to not only visually stand out but also send memorable messages. The story needs to make the readers think and wants to read again. The artworks need to be consistent to connect the story's events, leading the readers through stages of emotions. In order to achieve this, a project's background research is an utmost necessity from a good collaboration between the author and the illustrator.

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Talk us through the process of creating one of your latest illustrations or books.

After running my studio for a while, I have learned a quite efficient system when it comes to the process of creating either a piece of illustration artwork or a whole picture book. Our studio's latest project, "The Naming Grounds" by author Alanna Olive-Smith, is a good example, as a result of applying this system. 

First of all, the first and most important piece of the process is a BRIEF that carries important information, such as summary, plot, background, characters, target audience, cultural references, etc. This document plays as a bridge between clients and artists. This applies to clients' requests as well as personal projects. At the beginning of the project, Ms.Olive-Smith did a brilliant job of providing us everything we needed by giving us a thorough brief, along with her manuscript, which played as a great help for us to visualize possibilities in order to meet her expectations.

We normally spend 1 week to 10 days on this step.

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In the second step, I created visual research from the information gathered from the brief to show my understanding of the author's intentions. This played as a significant role in the art direction of the book. The research was compressed into a PDF file that includes some concept art of character and environment designs, visual references, and a color palette. With my past experience in animation's art direction, this step gave me great joy when I imagined the story in motion.

This step took me 15-20days of making. 

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After getting approval of the visual research from the client, I moved on to the third step: layout sketches. Throughout 32 pages of illustration, I maintained the story's flow while keeping in mind each character's own personality and matching their actions to suitable set designs. Because this is a story for young children, I intended to keep the storytelling clear, direct, and action-oriented. 

I spent roughly 30 days on this step.

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After adjusting the layout according to Ms.Alanna's feedback, I prepared all the materials needed for my assistant to color the sketches. Under my guidance, she did a wonderful job interpreting the concept art and applying the colors for particular moods and tones. 

This step took us around 30 days to complete.

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What do you hope children take away from your drawings?

My favourite picture book, hands down, is The Blue Stone by Jimmy Liao. The author did a brilliant job as an author/illustrator. Amazed by how he takes the readers through a wonderful but sad journey of a broken stone, I feel so much from the unique and emotional designs. It is a magical, clever, and loving book that I would read over and over again, not only to take it as an inspiration but also a case study for a great storytelling development.

If you weren’t an illustrator, what would you be doing?

I would say being a toy maker has always been at the back of my mind. If one day I wake up and decide to do something different from what I am doing now, a small toy shop is my go-to answer.  

Are you an author/illustrator?

To become the author and illustrator of my own children's books has been my biggest dream. So far, I have been learning to better my knowledge and experience about different target audiences and my own style through commisions and small personal projects, so that my first self-published children's book could be something meaningful, relatable and full of love.

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