Ep.85: Hieu Nguyen (Kelogsloops) on capturing feelings in your artworks

By Iva Mikles •  Updated: Jan 08, 2018 •  Interviews

Get in touch with Hieu

Key Takeaways

“Be open-minded, challenge yourself and develop yourself because there is always somebody better than you”

Resources mentioned

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Special thanks to Hieu for joining me today. See you next time!

All artworks by Hieu Nguyen, used with permission

Episode Transcript

Announcer  

Creative, artistic, happy! That’s you. There are endless possibilities for living a creative life. So let’s inspire each other. Art Side of Life interviews with Iva.

Iva Mikles  

Hello, everyone, and welcome back to the next episode of Art Side of Life where I chat with inspiring artists five days a week. My name is Iva, and my guest today is unigram, better known as Kellogg’s loops. You will learn about his journey as a professional artist and how he approaches learning.

Hieu Nguyen  

I never actually took classes, a lot of what I learned was through observation, so basically, everything I know is just to observing real world I guess, anatomy facial structures, features, it was all just looking at people and

Iva Mikles  

you is a digital and a watercolor artist from Melbourne, Australia, and now studying in San Diego, California. He has been drawing this age five and painting with watercolor since 2013. In recent years, he has made a name for himself particularly in the digital art world, and has developed large community on social media like Deviant Art, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram. He is a stunning Instagram following of over 670,000 followers, and on YouTube 300,000 fans. He works as a designer for beautiful bizarre magazine to and magazine about art and culture. In September 2016, he exhibited his work in Haven Gallery in New York, on topic of hearts blood. He publishes popular speed painting videos on YouTube and sells his watercolor paintings and digital art prints through his website and his society six show. So please welcome you, aka Kellogg’s Luke’s. And let’s get to the interview. Welcome everyone to the next episode of Art Side of Life. And I’m super happy to have you here. Hi. Hi. So how are you? I’m good. How are you? Good, good. Yeah, let’s just start right away because you’re super busy. And maybe you can share some of your background how you got to art and we’ll maybe like the the moment where you decided, okay, I want to take this professionally.

Hieu Nguyen  

So, I guess we’re also began way back when I was a kid, I’ve always been drawing so as I think, like five years old is when I first started drawing. It was actually my my now sister in law, he introduced me into art. So I remember as a kid, she taught me and one of those is how to draw anime, manga style approaches. And she, she taught me how to do a Sailor Moon with like the whole circle, triangle thing. And I remember which taught me like seeing that face come to life. Like there’s something about it that just like, pull me into it. And I had loved it. So then after that, I became addicted. I drew every day, I was always drawing, I was always that kid in class who drew drew always drawing, never doing anything. Never paying attention in class, always drawing. So I was always that kid. And but thing is, I never thought much about it. Like I knew I loved art was everything to me. I was always doing it. But I never thought about having it as a career for me, because I went to in high school Well, as I grew up, I started to realize I had a brain. And

Iva Mikles  

you can use it other ways as well. I can actually

Hieu Nguyen  

yeah, I can actually use it. I have a brain I like study, I studied well, and I was getting really good grades. And then I ended up trying for a very academic school. And I was lucky enough to get in there. But the bad thing about it was that I was thrown into this environment where everyone went up, art wasn’t very encouraged. It was everyone was the science or medicine or law. And if you did art, it kind of felt like everyone was laughing at you. So it basically it was kind of like a joke that if you do do art or anything like that, you’re going nowhere near life. And that’s that’s kind of a harsh way to say it. But that’s kind of what the environments being in there felt like. So the more I was there, the more I grew up. And by the time I was like 18 and we had to make a decision on what school we wanted to go to. There was no chance I was willing to, like in the back of my head. I just knew I would not do art because I just thought it was stupid. So it was a big change. It was a it was a gradual progression from loving art and wanting to do it all the time to realizing that No, I cannot make created this, it’s impossible. Like, even my career counselor advised me not to do I have to

Iva Mikles  

save it. Yeah.

Iva Mikles  

They’re like, Oh, you cannot leave from it, like, choose something normal. And then like,

Hieu Nguyen  

that’s pretty much what she said, Because I remember, like, I had options. And I did want to consider art. So I, I spoke about doing animation or fine art or graphic design. And then as long as well as that I wanted to do physiotherapy, something’s in the health field, there’ll be or when I suppose the occupational therapy, those clients, I kind of feel the allied health field and talking to that Kook, counselor, she just switched everything around, and put like medicine first. And it, it just it, it doesn’t help when you’re surrounded by people who keep telling you, that isn’t a way to go. And so by the end of high school, I exited. And I told myself, No, I’m not doing that. There’s no way it’s stupid. I’m not going to make money. I’ve nothing for myself. But I always knew I always wanted to do. So at the back of my head, I still kind of hoped for it as hoped for some kind of sign. And I remember, in high school, we had this thing cause top arts. It’s this, I studied this subject called Studio Arts, which is a very fine art subject. And am I going too long?

Iva Mikles  

Because a lot of people are interested actually how to choose the education and what is it like? Why do you actually

Hieu Nguyen  

choose? Yeah, okay. Because I think this is relevant to the question of how I got into it. Yeah,

Iva Mikles  

I mean, I actually I got recently, like, a lot of questions from the community as well, like, how to choose art school. And what is more important to study online? Or like classic brick school? Yeah. So maybe you can also share, like, what is your opinion? Like, from your experience? Like, what these may be good on each and, you know, what do you learn and

Hieu Nguyen  

so in this app, it is common specialist art program could top out if your work is successful, and if they see potentially your work, they select your folio and your work. And they added like the basically one of the top students of all that subjects in the state. And I was lucky enough to be chosen for one of them. And for me, that kind of gave me hope, kind of, I know, I was exiting high school and I was going, I got accepted into my visitor because but they gave me this hope. Because it meant that somebody saw value my work that somebody, somebody so high up so that those potential might work because if you’ve got on top or top arts, you basically had something going for you. So then, because of that, I kept drawing, and I kept drawing as much as I could, it’s, in my spare time, I would study hard because physiotherapy was a direct cause and at home, as soon as I get home, I will draw, draw and draw constantly. And then I started in that year, I started my work started to get noticed the bit, my style developed a lot more because I kept practicing. And I started getting feet like featured in Divi and I started getting notice on Tumblr, and then I started an Instagram page. And that started to slowly grow. And then a year passed. And before I knew it, I I just I had this thing going something was growing and I didn’t know what it was I didn’t know how to feel about it because my heart was so set on doing my mind was so set on doing physiotherapy and working towards that trajectory of workI gear career, you know, but my heart all of a sudden had this whole like, Ah, this could be something so, so

Iva Mikles  

then so how did you approach the learning you know, like when you had to like study you know, like fundamentals light and materials, you know, because it can be overwhelming when you’re just starting out and you want to get better and take time.

Hieu Nguyen  

I never actually took classes a lot of what I learned was through observation so basically everything I taught everything I know is just to observing real world I guess so the anatomy facial structures features it was all just looking at people and looking at my hands and my face and like the way light works and falls like this and that it so that’s why my work doesn’t have a very realistic it’s not very realistic. It’s more surreal abstract with a lot of manga and anime influences because I grew up with that. But I tried to do studies a lot. I tried to do so I tried to get imagery for And Susan, study 1000 get a better understanding of Latin anatomy, because light and anatomy and color probably

Hieu Nguyen  

the hardest thing to do. Yeah, and it’s so complex and just yet so many things.

Iva Mikles  

But did you also think like pictures of yourself and or you were like a mirror with the mirror and then drawing or

Hieu Nguyen  

I hate drawing myself.

Iva Mikles  

But it’s the closest reference we have when we are drawing.

Hieu Nguyen  

Yeah, no, but my hands and my hands. Yeah, maybe not my face, because I hate looking at my face,

Iva Mikles  

like maybe some some books you liked or some other online resources, you know, you’d like to look at because just to study maybe other artists and see how they are simplifying or

Hieu Nguyen  

not adding books. And I never, there never really was resources when I was like learning how to draw and paint. But now there’s so many on YouTube. There’s, it’s incredible. But I never had, I never thought about it. I guess I just get drawing as I did, and practicing and practicing. And there was other artists I look up to. So I would try to emulate them. And I tried to like just take this and this and try that experiment this and things slowly fell into place. And I just kept trying to refine it. And just keep practicing, I guess.

Iva Mikles  

And do you have some things maybe about you know, like, Instagram or DeviantArt? You know, like, what are the things maybe to do and not to do when someone tried to build their own community like be present there? And these kind of things like, yeah, like consistency and the same look?

Hieu Nguyen  

Yeah.

Hieu Nguyen  

One of the biggest things that what I realized that the growth came a lot more on social media with consistency and with actual community engagement. So it’s bad now but when I first started on Divi, not bad first started, and I was always commenting people’s photos, I was like, making friends, I had so many friends and do not Oh, now. I would really I talk to these people for ages, I’ll talk to them. Since long messages, and we go back and forth kind of like pen pals, I would really get involved in the community, get to know people and talk to people. And people would generally became but part of the family that and the more you become engaged with the people who are there, the people who, because there are people, they will help you, there’ll be able to who those are people who will critique you and get make it better. So those are people who are important to become friends with. So being involved in those social media platforms and being consistent, constantly uploading and asking for critiques and challenging yourself. That’s one way that I found myself starting out with, with doing that, especially. And as my DVR grew, I started opening Instagram and Tumblr and the same thing, being involved in just talking to people commenting giving positive feedback, critiques, because people do the same for you. They people people want to help. And people want to be helped. It’s about consistency and being involved.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, good. Yeah. Because I think it’s really good idea to ask questions, if you’re developing a story or you want an opinion about angle or colors, like what people like and yeah, so that can help the engagement. Definitely. And so how do you manage your time now? Because you’ve worked with so many different projects? And so how do you plan your week or a month? Or how does your normal day look like?

Hieu Nguyen  

Um, I try to have a plan, but doesn’t really work. It’s particularly hard right now because I’m not actually at home. I’m overseas studying in studying abroad, but usually I don’t need it No.

Iva Mikles  

So you think of how it comes everyday?

Hieu Nguyen  

Kind of oh, I always have a list of things I need to do urgently is a deadline. And I I always tried to get them done. I tried to get them done. Well in events. That’s a keyword I try. Because it’s hard because a lot of things come unexpectedly a lot of things so I can’t especially when I’m creating stuff when I’m creating Word I can’t plan like a day where I will create something new or create something find something cool because it comes in searches it comes in waves like today I might feel really creative and I might have is really an ID I need to draw it but I can’t because I have work so There are things that I cannot change, like my actual work, and school, and there’s time where I can move around and do things. But in that time in those times, it’s usually a lot of all nighters, no sleep, and stress. Oh, good.

Iva Mikles  

Keep, you know, positive and motivated, because you look like really like sunny type and really positive person. So how do you motivate yourself?

Hieu Nguyen  

I think just the idea. Well, just thinking about, like, where I’ve come, where I’m going, what is to come? Things to work for? I think that itself is pretty motivating.

Iva Mikles  

Like, I think projects are mighty. Yeah.

Hieu Nguyen  

If I just sit back and think, Well, how far have I come? Then that’s pretty like that itself is like, Whoa, this is really cool. But I also get a lot of emails, messages from fans, and some of them are the most. Ah, I just get your that. It makes you realize why it makes me realize why I do this. And why I want to keep going. Because it makes is the reason why I do.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah. Yeah, just help others and inspire others. Yeah, yeah, that’s super nice. And so what is your main inspiration Do you have like, some go to things like walks in nature, or, you know, that everyone is always inspired, where, you know, like, these stories or ideas come from,

Hieu Nguyen  

a lot of my work is driven by my current state. So how I feel how a mood or a memory or experience. So I can sketch just for fun, and just freely and just do sketches. But when I create a work that I’m really, really passionate about, it’s usually driven by, like my, how I feel at the time. So sometimes there are things that happen in my life, that everyone experiences, like losing a friend, you know, paardeberg, that kind of stuff. I think that kind of those kind of emotions, everybody can relate to, but they’re so powerful. And it’s kind of an creative outlet for me. So Milan, I’ll walk you through this purely by that. And it can be it can be instigated by something like music, I can listen to a song and there’s a lyric that clicks in my head and makes me feel a certain way. Just, it just drives me to create this ID. It can be its color, it can be a color, I say a color palette, a color combo, and it has a feeling associated to it, that makes me think of something. It’s It sounds weird.

Iva Mikles  

It makes more sense in my head.

Iva Mikles  

But if you see some color you want to put on the paper, definitely. And then you start creating from there.

Hieu Nguyen  

But it always has to be driven by a feeling. Because Because I’m creating most of my work is this is portraiture, its faces. This is an expression that, that I tried to capture that makes you feel and think away. And it has it has to be the right. Like, everything.

Iva Mikles  

So how do you work with like, bigger projects, when you like, recently worked on, you know, like, what do you have, like certain team? Or, you know, like, you want to create a cast of characters? Or how does it work for, you know, like more professional environment. And lastly, on the personal artworks, so full of exhibitions, yeah, for example, exhibitions, or I think your works. Were now recently in a magazine right, as well. Yeah.

Hieu Nguyen  

So I recently did an exhibition for Haven Gallery in New York. So it was my first international exhibition, which is super exciting. It was the theme exhibition. So the theme was hot blood and the it was inspired by Oscar Wilde’s Nightingale the rose, which itself is quite a dark theme. It’s a dark story. And so because it seems I still, I still have to have that same approach. I have to feel a certain way to connect with it. Otherwise, it doesn’t feel right. And I’m just painting for illustration, which is something that I just don’t connect with. So before that, the theme was, I stripped it back so the beta the general theme of the exhibition is about pain and heartbreak and unrequited love. So, I’ve never been to such an extreme where in that story, I’m like so in love or I have to like do something so dark, but everyone can relate to that feeling of heartbreak of that pain of falling in love with someone that doesn’t love you back and how difficult it is. So, grab it holding on to that kind of feeling. I He kind of go through sketches and different color palettes and experiment with what colors work. And that kind of captured that feeling. And different expressions from poses different combinations and compositions. And so there’s so many sketches and like layouts and color palettes and tests. And eventually, when I feel it, like the draw and come together the composition, then I go with that, if that answers your question, yeah,

Iva Mikles  

it makes sense. Yeah. Because, like, we kind of work certain ways sometimes when you work on your personal projects when there is no team attached. So definitely, it’s like different. Yeah.

Hieu Nguyen  

Yes, I guess when it comes to like a theme or project, it’s about me extracting a certain part about what the project is meant to be about, and connecting with it as close as I can.

Iva Mikles  

Definitely. Yeah. And do you have something you wish you knew before you started this whole artistic career, you know, some like advice to young self.

Hieu Nguyen  

I think my biggest advice, I realized this recently, it’s to not be so afraid of what’s to come in the future, to kind of embrace things as they go. So three years ago, I would not imagine myself to be here right now. But I’ve always been so scared of doing this, or trying that, or opening up the body, or being open minded to try something different, something new, because I was scared of the consequences that will follow. I was scared of what people will think what would happen, for example, even just even, even practically, like, I never wanted to try oil painting or acrylics, because they’re scary, and I’m proud, I probably suck at it. And then being in San Diego, I’m taking an old painting class. And I’m obsessed. I love it. Like, I don’t know what it is. I love it. And I wish I’d done it earlier. So I think just being open minded and not being so afraid of the future of challenging yourself. Yeah, that’s probably the best advice.

Iva Mikles  

Definitely. Because sometimes we get like different advices, as you mentioned, like a counselor, and it’s like, no, don’t do this or do that.

Hieu Nguyen  

But even when it comes to like social media, like being afraid to put your work out there and be critiqued, and be judged, being afraid to expose yourself, it’s scary, because you don’t know what people are willing to say it’s the future, you don’t know where it’s gonna go. But unless you don’t you try it, you’re never gonna know.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, definitely. That’s a good one. And how do you think about new projects? You know, when you have to say, No, sometimes the projects because you don’t have time, or other reasons? What is your like self talk, you know, deciding for or not to go for a project.

Hieu Nguyen  

I don’t actually take on many commercial commission projects or outside work, because I’ve, I work in a magazine, I’ve got my full time studies. I’ve got like, I’ve got to do my own excuse me thing. So I don’t really, I really want to, but I can’t only because my studies. So actually don’t do outside work.

Iva Mikles  

And maybe you can mention for some people in the community or audience, if they don’t know what you do in the magazine, if you can share, what are your responsibilities, and how does it look like?

Hieu Nguyen  

Um, so I work at a beautiful blonde magazine as a designer there. And I got, I’ve been working with him for about two or three years now. And, yeah, it’s a contemporary art magazine. We’re just going through a brand new revamp stage. So we’re redesigned the whole issue, which is really exciting. It’s coming out next year. But it’s it’s also partly the reason why I’m so tired and stressed out right now. Because it’s very intense.

Iva Mikles  

You do graphic design, their layout, or actually the character design or everything.

Hieu Nguyen  

It’s an art magazine, so it features artists, so I don’t actually do illustration in it. I just do layouts. I do the design, I design, basically everything gets graphic related to demand. And how

Iva Mikles  

did you get to this job? Or was it you applied? Or they found you or how does this work when you because you’re still studying? Right? And so people are wondering sometimes okay, how do I find new projects are the first one

Hieu Nguyen  

it actually it. It came about because of Instagram actually. So this magazine at the time though he is still huge. That was really big, our magazine and they they featured my work on the Instagram page about a couple of times. And I was flabbergasted. I was shocked and I was like, Whoa, it’s just so cool. I thought it was amazing. And then one day I got an email from them. And they invited me to do an exhibition with them a group exhibition. And I was, it was I was I’ve interviewed. And they asked me if I wanted to be an exhibition because they liked my work. And they liked the aesthetic that was fitting in with the magazine and their vision. And of course, I said, Yes, it was going to be my first curated exhibition, I had to do it. And because of that, I got into contact with Daniella, the founder of the magazine. And we started talking a bit and I discovered it was an Australian based magazine, we talked about the motivation behind it and why the amazing existed. And I loved that I loved the passion behind I love the initiative, the story. And I offered because I was genuinely, really wanted this magazine to kick off, I really wanted them to do something to be huge. So I offered if they ever needed anything, any help, I was always happy to be there, help them. And a few weeks later, she Daniella asked me to help with this tiny little thing. And then I did it really well. And then she asked me to come on board and be an assistant and help her out with some small things. And then I became more involved. I did more tasks, it took more work. And I think a year in the graphic, the client, the designer at that time had to leave the magazine because of her job. So there was no longer a designer and there was a there was panic, we have no designer. And they’re like

Iva Mikles  

I’m here.

Hieu Nguyen  

Oh, yeah, I do. I do study, graphic design, kinda a different background. So I want to you. And now I’m the designer.

Iva Mikles  

Oh, perfect. Yeah, but that’s really interesting story. I’d like to offer a hell but the beginning of viously because you’re interested and passionate about the project. So yeah. Cool, cool. Nice. How do you do networking? Otherwise, you know, you mentioned like social media? Do you go also for conventions? And these kind of things, you know? Or what would you advise young starting artists, you know, like to build a network?

Hieu Nguyen  

Sadly, I’m not the best person to ask for networking advice, because I don’t do enough. I don’t do I don’t do conventions. And it’s not because I don’t want to I’ve always wanted to it’s just I don’t know where to go or where to look. So I always hear about conventions after they’re done after they’re finished. And I’m, I’m always going, Oh, why did I go to that? So I wish I went to conventions, I just don’t, I’m not involved, because I don’t know about them. So I never get to go. I don’t know about art events, or artists talks or any kind of art related events or happenings in my work and where I’m from, just because I don’t know where to look, I don’t know where to go. I don’t know how to get involved into that. And I can’t really go to events or physical happenings outside of my town because I can’t afford to go there anything. So I’m not the best person to ask.

Iva Mikles  

So maybe we can do some list of events so people can actually take out their area. Yeah, I’ve,

Hieu Nguyen  

I’ve tried. I’ve always wanted to get more involved in the community and be more networked, and do all networking and meet people. But I’ve just never known how to

Iva Mikles  

make you look like a really social first.

Hieu Nguyen  

But yeah, but I just don’t know where to look, I don’t know where to go.

Iva Mikles  

I will send you the least

Hieu Nguyen  

please do. Good now. Now. I mean, um, but it might also because in where I’m from the art scene isn’t as big. Because being in San Diego or being in California, I’m realizing that there is so many opportunities. There’s so many events, there’s so many people that you can talk to who are interested in art. Um, I went to, like, for example, in Australia as well. I just don’t know about where I’m from. I don’t think there’s a lot of galleries. I think there’s a few and I just, I’m not in the loop. But I went to New York recently and I went to one gallery, one exhibition, and it was the most incredible experience. It was, I went there and I didn’t know I didn’t know anyone I sit for my boss. And I was talking to people or talking to artists. And this one artist who was exhibiting she she introduced me to this other artists who introduced me to this other artists who introduced me to this gallery director who introduced me to this videographer ah, and it was so cool. I was meeting people. I became friends with them. I became friends on Instagram. So I guess that was networking? I

Hieu Nguyen  

think so. Yeah. But that was like one of my first times actually getting in there. Just like you want to go.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, but that sounds like really good experience, because then you can meet them in person and see their art and everything.

Hieu Nguyen  

Yeah, the show, I want to do more of it. I love it. It’s fun.

Iva Mikles  

Definitely. So yeah, so more events, we will list them also for everyone so people can check it out. And did you also have something like a more difficult time of your career, something you learn from maybe or like when you felt unmotivated, or even like when you didn’t draw, or you didn’t go to period like that.

Hieu Nguyen  

There’s been two very difficult times the first was the start of the art gallery. The first was the decision to actually chase it to do it. That was a very scary time. And but I’m happy I did, because in the end, it was a good decision. But recently, just actually variously just a few months ago. I, I struggled a bit with, I struggled a bit with this whole thing. I think it’s kind of scary to admit it. But I think I got cold feet for the first time. And I was actually really scared of what I was doing. Because I went traveling a lot recently. And because of that, I found it really hard to have time to draw and get into it. But when I got back, because I was on holiday for so long, it was hard to get into drawing and I didn’t feel the drive that I felt to draw, I didn’t I didn’t want to draw I hate and really that it was, I just didn’t want to draw, I just wanted to relax and have fun and just enjoy my life. But it made me really upset at myself because all of a sudden, it was like this giant art blog that took over. And it was worse than that book. Because it wasn’t that I couldn’t draw. It was just I didn’t want to draw. And it made me think that maybe I didn’t have the guts to do this whole career. Maybe I didn’t have the guts to be doing this. Even though I’ve come this far. I thought maybe I just wasn’t the person for it. And it put me in a bit of a dark place. I wasn’t for the past few for the past few weeks, I haven’t been able to draw. And I’ve just been scared to draw. Because I just don’t know what I’m doing. And it gave us that was probably one of the hardest times, but

Iva Mikles  

I will help you to get back to the drive and everything.

Hieu Nguyen  

I don’t think it was, I think it was a lot about just about where I am in, like in this place of like in life like just a certain time. Because I’m an exchange and I’m alone and it made it made me think a lot. And then when I went to New York, it made me realize why I love that again, like why, like after being in like, after being in that exhibition after me. There’s people after being in New York, it felt like I remembered why I loved it. I remember why I wanted to work so hard. Why I spent so many sleepless nights painting until like six in the morning. It I remembered why I loved it. And that’s what I mean like the idea that I can’t be afraid that you shouldn’t be afraid of what’s to come the future. Yes, I might have cold feet. Yes, I might not be the person for Yes, I might not be able to make anything out of this. But I love it. And I live for it. It’s what I need to do it. And it just that just trying to remembering why I do it in the first place helps me get into it again. Yeah, definitely.

Iva Mikles  

And do you have some like favorite tools you work with now you cannot live without or it doesn’t matter for you, you know, like you want to do everyday like with this brand or this brush or

Hieu Nguyen  

i i have supplies that I still use and like the very first I painted. So I have favorite brushes. I have a favorite palette. So I always use the same. I don’t know where it is now. I actually got a really a much more expensive and better palette, but I haven’t touched it but I’ve been using this since like day one. It’s this palette that I bought way long ago and it’s lost me forever. That’s been or yeah, when we didn’t You didn’t Yeah, the 45 parents set. I think I’m very attached to things so I can’t

Iva Mikles  

like failure with these. Yeah,

Hieu Nguyen  

I can’t part with it. Even though I have a much better palette. I can’t bear to use it because I need to use this. And I have have brushes that I’ve had for two or three years that are already like $2 but I still use them, because they’re just precious.

Iva Mikles  

Definitely. Listen maybe to podcasts or other things, you know, when you’re working or other things to learn from like, kind of combination of activities during the day or it’s mostly just music.

Hieu Nguyen  

Music, I have to have music. So what is the favorite music?

Hieu Nguyen  

There, there is no specific type of music. It’s it always changes sometimes I’d be listening. I remember one of the pieces that inspired my work was Beyonce. It was a song Expo. And it was something about it that this this feeling, I just had to draw it. And then one time, I was listening to Porter Robinson, which is an EDM genre, but heart beats, that is another tiny, and then I was listening to Yan TSN, just piano with melodic music, and then maybe do another training. So the music can vary from anything, but there’s always like I said, that it’s driven by a feeling and it’s usually spurred on by a song or, you know, something I say? Yeah, yeah, they’re

Iva Mikles  

super cool. And do you have maybe even like a favorite quote, you live by something you will put on top of the sketchbook? Well, I

Hieu Nguyen  

have my little motto, I guess. Just get back chasing dreams. But my personal favorite, my favorite quote ever is we don’t stop playing because we grow old. We grow old because we stop playing. It’s not related. It’s not related to art. It’s just something I love.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, definitely. Because we should still enjoy everything we do. And if we stop enjoying when we have like,

Hieu Nguyen  

yeah, that’s my favorite quote. Oh, definitely. I

Iva Mikles  

mean, that’s really good. And if you’re applying it to your characters, when you mentioned, like emotions, and these kinds of things, what would you maybe advice to young artists when they are starting out? And, you know, they want to design characters with emotions? And do you have like, some certain process when you are designing? Like, do you always follow the same steps? Or do you create differently, you know, like, like, I do sketch, then I design, I don’t know, line work, and then the watercolors or do you work differently?

Hieu Nguyen  

It changes because sometimes if it’s, if I have a clear idea in my head, a very specific piece I want to create, and I know exactly how the composition is and the expression in the field and colors, then I will go ahead and create a very planned process, I’ll sketch out to the linework. I’ll do sketches on the side, I’ve met about the colors and everything. So there’s that which is a very methodical and technical approach. But some of my favorite approaches is when I literally just have two lines on the page. And I just paint freely. And some of those. Sometimes when I do those kind of approach I’ve created my favorite works. So being loose before taneous. So I don’t think that there’s one necessarily right way to do it. I think that if you’re trying starting out as a young artist, you should be open minded to different approaches. Don’t steal it. Don’t don’t narrow yourself down to one specific approach. And you have to say that why you shouldn’t I think you should experiment with different approaches, so that you can kind of get to know you can get a feel of what works for you. Because some people prefer a very methodical approach and it’s better for them. But and then they used to that, but once they try if you try a looser open approach of just letting colors go painting how you feel just letting it go wild. You might fall in love with that and you might realize that oh my god, you actually better this way. Yeah. Yeah, because when I first started, I was I used to do digital art. So it was very, it’s very precise. I painted very specifically and clearly I painted I was so like, I had to make this exact color. This had to be so blended no lines. And but then I tried watercolor and I was obsessed with the way it was so spontaneous and how that plays. Yeah, like I couldn’t predict where it was gonna go and I fell in love with it and now I can’t stop doing watercolor. So I think it’s good to be open minded if you’re new if you’re starting out to try new things to challenge yourself to be able to just do something that you don’t expect and you never know you might be you might need to master that before you know

Iva Mikles  

yeah like you said like oils right but Do you still like watercolors better or I love water so that’s your thing definitely I really liked the the patterns what you can achieve with the watercolors because you can never do it with the with the digital and it’s just so big. Yeah. And let’s talk about the future. Sure, and I would like to know, where would they see yourself maybe like five to 10 years, but would be like your dream scenario or, you know, like, you cannot fail and everything is like exactly how you want. Do you have some something in mind already?

Hieu Nguyen  

Yes.

Hieu Nguyen  

Okay, so I would love Bobby Stein to be in an apartment in New York with only the studio and aside, I would love to be in New York, working as a as a fine artists. So being an exhibiting artists creating my own paintings and exhibiting all across the world, okay, maybe not five years that they’d be like 50 years time.

Iva Mikles  

It can be five years.

Hieu Nguyen  

I think I’d be a lot more than that. But I want to be exhibited all across the world I want to be doing. I want to be doing workshops, I want to be teaching people I want to be mentoring or doing classes or working even in the schools to teach artists and give them a sense of direction, because I wish I had some kind of help when I was starting out growing up. I think it really helps to have someone there, guide you not guide you, but give you a pat on the back and tell you it’s okay. It’s going to be okay. I’d want to do that I want to teach I want to help people I want to help people starting out. But I also want to, I want to do YouTube. I want to do tutorials I want to I want to teach people.

Iva Mikles  

That’s really good. I really,

Iva Mikles  

yeah, I’m really looking forward to the you know, like more YouTube videos and like, you can share your earlier experiences and everything. Yeah, yeah, definitely. And I heard this, you know, kind of, how do you say like exercise where you write down, like everything like to last detail you want to achieve, you know, like, you can even describe a day in the life of those five years or 10 years, you know, like, what do you have for breakfast? What do you you know, what do you where, where we are sitting, and then it kind of it’s it can be in the back of your brain, you know, because you are getting closer to your goals because you want more with you, you know, like, Okay, this is what I want to achieve. I should do that. So that might be a nice exercise. But yeah, but you already kind of know already a lot what you want to achieve.

Hieu Nguyen  

It’s just something that it’s more things that I would love to do. I’d love to be able to do it.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, I think so. Sure. And my last question would be about far, far future and I would like to know what would you like to be remembered for in like 100 years or more?

Hieu Nguyen  

I don’t know. I don’t know thought about that. That’s that’s a scary one to think about.

Hieu Nguyen  

I would like to be remembered for being able to inspire and help someone out there.

Hieu Nguyen  

That’s it. I guess that’s really nice. That’s really nice.

Iva Mikles  

Before we say goodbye, maybe you can share last piece of advice or key takeaway and then we will slowly finish.

Hieu Nguyen  

think my biggest advice will always be to be open minded to challenge yourself to to constantly be open to new things to growth to developing yourself because there is always someone better than you. That’s kind of dark.

Iva Mikles  

Scary, but it’s true.

Hieu Nguyen  

pessimistic optimism,

Iva Mikles  

but there is always someone good or better than you are also worse than you. So yeah, you can always think about that as well. If you feel unmotivated to progress, you think about the other

Iva Mikles  

ones. Yeah,

Iva Mikles  

definitely. And so much thank you again for being here and just taking time for the inspiring other people. That’s okay. So yeah, thanks again. And thank you everyone for joining us you in the next episode. Hope you guys enjoy this interview. You can find all the resources mentioned in this episode at artsideoflife.com. Just type a guest name in the search bar. There is also a little freebie waiting for you. So go check it out. If you enjoy this episode, please leave a review on iTunes, hopefully five stars so I can read and inspire more people like you. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to Art Side of Life podcast because I post new interview every single workday. If you want to watch the interviews, head over to artsideoflife.com/youtube. Thank you so much for listening. Don’t forget to inspire each other. And I will talk to you guys in the next episode. Bye.

Announcer  

Thanks for listening to the Art Side of Life podcast at www.artsideoflife.com

Hi, I am Iva (rhymes with “viva”). I am an artist, illustrator, founder of Art Side of Life®, and Top Teacher on Skillshare. Since 2009 I've worked as an illustrator, character designer, art director, and branding specialist focusing on illustration, storytelling, concepts, and animation. I believe that we are all creative in infinite numbers of ways, so I've made it my mission to teach you everything I know and help either wake up or develop your creative genius. Learn more about me.

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