Who or what made you want to become an illustrator?
She is an elementary school teacher and often uses drawing & illustration to help the students understand the lesson. From a young age, my grandmother taught me how to draw, so my passion for art began there.
My grandmother has a lot of beautifully illustrated children's books. Since childhood, I have always been fascinated by these books, and spent lots of time sketching them out in small notebooks.
I always dreamed of being able to draw a book with lots of pictures, and have many children read my books. That idea gave me real happiness. I am still grateful to my grandmother.
Did you attend art school or undertake any other formal artistic training?
It's an interesting fact that I graduated with a bachelor's degree in interior design from Ho Chi Minh City University of Architecture in Vietnam. I have never taken a professional illustration class in Vietnam. However, I still made time when I didn't have school assignments to pursue my passion for illustration. I enjoyed looking for creative materials for myself.
Learning Interior Design helped me a lot in illustrating. I have a good sense of space and materials – and can make good use of them in my compositions.
What was your first commission as a professional illustrator?
I started my career as a professional illustrator by drawing book covers and illustrating for the popular teen magazine in Vietnam, “Hoa Hoc Tro” magazine.
Describe your working technique and how you came to perfect it.
I love hand-drawn watercolors. With hand-drawn illustrations, I often sketch on an Ipad Pro to ensure speed and easy editing. The next step is to finalize the pencil sketch. I use the Hunion light to scan the pencil from the printed sketch. Then it's onto the watercolor stage. I like to use this medium, but need to be patient to paint each layer to get the clarity of watercolor.
What is your favourite medium to work with and why?
I’m quite flexible in my tools, depending on whether the product I am creating is hand-painted or digital.
I love Ecoli watercolors, Windsor Newton... on 300gsm paper if it's hand-painted.
I use an Ipad Pro, Wacom to combine digital drawings for convenience.
Tell us about the creation of your favourite character from one of your books.
That would be the Little Prince in the book "The Little Prince" I published with Kim Dong Publishing House. I drew this character over and over again, and tried many different options.
The challenge for me when creating the character of the Little Prince was to create a prince who is not far from the original version, keeping the spirit of the old drawing but still fresh and emotional in my version.
Talk us through the process of creating one of your latest illustrations or books.
Currently, I’m working on a book about the legend of the pagodas in Vietnam.
In addition to drawing children's books, I still want to try my hand at some mature and mystical book genres.
I have always loved self-innovation in the work that I do.
What do you hope children take away from your drawings?
I hope children can see the affection and positive energy through my paintings.
I always want my artwork to be their childhood friends.
What is your favourite children’s book and why?
My favorite children's book is "Andersen's Fairy Tales" because it was a bedside book of my childhood.
One of my favorite stories is "The Little Mermaid". To this day, I still believe that mermaids are as real as when I was a kid.
Take us behind the scenes and describe your studio / workspace.
I like the cozy feeling in my work space, somewhere I can work and relax. I always display family photos to motivate me to work hard.
Overall working tools, I have a desktop computer to use for layout (or script reading), a laptop and ipad pro for digital drawing.
A small space for pretty watercolors, personal preference, I like to work in a small and warm space.
Which area of children’s publishing excites you the most?
Definitely about family, I've always loved family themes. When I was a child, my parents always bought me a lot of books, my childhood gift was always books. There are memorabilia books from childhood that I still keep until now. Family is a topic that always inspires me, I hope the children will be surrounded by stories about happy families and they will be as happy as my paintings.
Have you taken part in any speaker events?
I have attended several events, most notably meeting with readers and introducing the Little Prince picture book.
What’s the best piece of advice anyone has ever given you?
Be yourself, in life and in your artistic pursuits. I used to be a Bachelor of Interior Design, I had a long struggle with my own ideas, before officially becoming an illustrator. I am happy to be able to live the work that I am passionate about, I feel very happy if people who see my paintings feel happy, or see themselves in my illustrations.
Which project are you most proud of?
I would say the picture book Little Prince, published by Kim Dong Publishing House. This is a children's book that any adult would love to own. It took me almost a year to complete this piece, as I hand-painted the entire picture book with watercolors. This is one of the works I'm proud to have illustrated. A classic children's book famous all over the world.
Are there any children’s classics you’d love to illustrate and/or re-tell?
Some outstanding works that I like to illustrate are The Little Mermaid, Pinnocho.... I like stories with mythological elements.
Animals feature heavily in children’s books – do you have a pet?
I have two pet dogs. I love pets because they make me feel happy and at peace when they're around.
The two dogs I currently have are adopted. I love the way they came into my life and really appreciate it!