Discovering Vivian Nguyen – Artist Interview

*Originally posted on 8/6/2010 on Karin Won’t Stop Talking blog*

First off, is it best to “label” you as an illustrator or artist?
Oh, it really doesn’t matter to me 🙂  The word “artist” is pretty all-encompassing, while “illustrator” tends to be more specific by trade (which is even hard to define these days, since illustration is so broad).  I admit to being a bit all over the place, so I won’t be picky 🙂

• What mediums do you work with?
For most of my personal sketches, I’ve been gravitating lately towards pencil and watercolor washes, simply because I like the look and feel of it…and it’s a loose, expressive, and quick way of working!  I also like to use acrylic as another traditional medium…the fast drying time is nice, and there are many different ways in which you can work with acrylic to yield different results.  For quick turnaround – especially with any professional work – I usually make use of the computer, drawing and coloring digitally.  I try to be as adaptive as possible, depending on the nature of the project.

• How do you make/set aside time to do your artwork?
Haha…the objective of setting aside time to do my artwork is definitely a work-in-progress…I’m nowhere close to mastering it 🙂  Whenever possible, I do try to fit my personal artwork into my schedule.  Whether it’s taking time out to sketch with some friends or working on a portfolio piece, I try to see it as a healthy necessity.  But again, this is something I’m still working on…it’s so easy to get wrapped up in other daily priorities.  I have quite a few personal projects waiting on the back burner, so I need to be better at this!

• Do you set goals for yourself?
While I do keep large goals in mind, I’ve been trying to set more “baby step” goals lately.  This applies to both my art and my life.  Being a bit pragmatic & cautious by nature, I tend to get overwhelmed easily by really big-picture goals.  Personally, by focusing more on “baby step” goals, I can work towards larger goals in a more feasible fashion…and allow myself to celebrate little milestones and accomplishments along the way 🙂

• Do you think living in California makes you a different artist than one that lives in Maine?
Well, I honestly don’t think it makes me a different artist inherently – since being an artist can be defined in so many different, subjective ways – no matter where you live.  If anything, I’d say that the external resources and influences may differ geographically, which might play a part in one’s artistic career choice.  For example, artists living here in California may have more direct access to the commercial/entertainment industry than most regions – and because of this, many artists here may feel inclined to move in this direction.

• Is there an artist you have looked up to, either as a child or now?
Wow…this is a tough one…I look up to so many artists, including many of my friends and teachers 🙂  If I have to give an example…let’s see…currently, I absolutely enjoy Enrico Casarosa’s work.  He is a story artist for Pixar, and his book The Venice Chronicles is a favorite…I just love his drawings.  They are so stylistically personal and real.  I’m also a big Charles Schulz and Peanuts fan, for similar reasons.  There’s something to be said about the quiet emotion, honesty, and rawness that can be seen in their works.

• What is the most rewarding thing about being an artist?
It may sound trite, but I do believe that any real reward is derived from knowing that you may have touched someone’s life (including your own) in any way through your art…whether it stirs a laugh, tear, memory, dialogue…that’s the human connection…being able to express yourself in a unique way and being able to relate with others.  I also do believe that everyone has an artistic/creative talent in one form or another…some may just find it at different points in their lives.

• Your website, is miraculous, what pushed you into displaying your artwork to the public? Was it a scary risk to put your work out there?
Thanks so much for your kind comment.  As with most anything subject to public scrutiny, it is a bit scary to put yourself and your personal work out there – but, needless to say, having a web presence is a necessary way to promote yourself in a very accessible way these days.  I’m actually still in the process of updating my website this summer (I am not a good example of someone who regularly updates their site!), but I’m glad that it has helped to promote some of my work thus far.

• I noticed you continue to perfect your work by attending workshops, have they been helpful?
Yes, it’s been very helpful attending drawing workshops, participating in sketch outings, taking classes…I’ve recently decided to be more proactive in these areas to improve/hone my skills…these are some of the “baby step” goals, to which I was referring above.  Taking part in some of these things is about practice, mileage, catharsis, building confidence, career development…and a great way to meet many other like-minded, talented artists! 🙂

• How has your degree from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena and your job at Spin Masters Toys propelled your personal art/illustrations goals?
I consider myself very fortunate to have had the opportunity to attend Art Center, where I learned many invaluable skills and had the privilege of studying under many wonderful instructors.  Working most recently at Spin Master gave me the hands-on experience to not only further develop the skills I acquired at Art Center – but also to gain more knowledge and experience in product design and development, which can be very applicable to other areas of art.  But most importantly, I’ve had amazing support from my parents, family, and close friends – which was a big factor in propelling my art goals in the first place…I’m very grateful to have wonderful, loving people in my life who keep me going.


Please check out the app available for download which features Vivian Nguyen’s Little Do They Know strip.

And for a look at all (archived) Little Do They Know strips.

• Visit Vivian Nguyen at these locations:



One comment

  1. Oh my gosh! Wow! Thank you for reposting this…I really appreciate it. Most importantly, it reminds me of how we first connected & I cherish your friendship ever since. Thank you again, Karin! ❤

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