How Illustrator Bui Ngan Captures The Magic Of Everyday Life In Vietnam | Vietcetera
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Oct 22, 2021

How Illustrator Bui Ngan Captures The Magic Of Everyday Life In Vietnam

A keen observer of the world around her, Bui Ngan has ingeniously incorporated everyday life scenes in her artworks.

How Illustrator Bui Ngan Captures The Magic Of Everyday Life In Vietnam

Artwork: Flying kites | Source: Bui Ngan

Currently living and working in Saigon, illustrator Bui Ngan works part-time at a design studio, and at the same time pursues her studies. Ngan’s artworks are mainly inspired from her observation of humans and events in daily life, focusing more on women, children, and culture.

Illustrator Bui Ngan

When approaching an idea or a character, Ngan often searches for “keywords” related to the object she wants to exploit, and finds the direction to take from there. She then starts to focus more on the work, opens her mind and enriches her perspective on the scenes she wants to illustrate.

1. Which street do you like best?

I like Nguyen Du street in HCMC the most. I often go for a walk there; and walking under the green tamarind leaves feels really great.

Sketch of a corner of Nguyen Du Street, Saigon

2. Where's the best place for you to be creative?

I don’t think using a single word is enough to describe the ideal place to be creative. Any image, state of life, or environment can be used as materials for creative works or products. It could be on the street or in the house, in a crowded area or in a quiet place, in the countryside or in the city.

I like to wander, far away if possible, or just go out for a short walk. During this pandemic period, I was quite diligent to travel from my bed to the kitchen, from the kitchen to the balcony, then hang around at the desk and surf the internet.

Ninja Lead

3. What background helps you draw without ever getting bored?

Where there is cool air and green trees.

Trốn Tìm (Hide and Seek)

4. To you, what element of an artwork touches the audience’s emotions?

To touch the emotions of the audience, you must start with the feelings of the author first. Authors always put their feelings and messages in their works, even when they were still in the making process.

There are things that aren’t pretty in someone’s eyes, but to that person, it can be a strange feeling. Sometimes when I look at pictures, photos, or films, I am able to feel the author’s message correctly; and sometimes I feel differently from the original meaning of the work.

Tranh vẽ em Thư (Painting of em Thư)

5. Which of your works reflects the biggest problem of your generation?

I choose the image Paparazzi, which I drew in 2019, about people bringing the natural body of women out for comparison, imposing on personality and dignity, implicitly using it as a common standard or measure for goal, beauty, and lifestyle. I actually think this problem has been around for a long time, not just in my generation.


6. What do you do when you run out of ideas?

I try not to care about it, do housework, make my friends laugh, and joke around with my close friends.

Em bé H'Mông (A H'Mong child)

7. What emotions help you to draw most effectively?

When I’m calm and focused.

Hoa loa kèn (Lilies)

8. Do you have any fear when drawing?

I used to be afraid whenever I felt negative emotions. In those moments, I didn’t even dare to share what I drew. But later on, I understood that we all have negative emotions. When I started to accept and care for these feelings instead of denying them, I was no longer afraid.

Bịt mắt bắt dê (Blind man's bluff)

9. If you could only keep one of the five human senses, which would you choose?

What a strange question! Still, I’ll choose the sense of smell, since we all are fighting the pandemic this year.

Phục trang an toàn (Safety clothing)

10. Adenosma caeruleum tea, or kumquat fruit tea?

I’ll choose kumquat fruit tea, but make it hot and mix it with honey instead of sugar!

Búng thun (Snapping rubber bands)

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Adapted by Thao Van