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Bui Thuy An

Bui Thuy An

Meet fashion illustrator and surface pattern designer from Vietnam, Bui Thuy An.

 

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

My name’s An, meaning peace in Vietnamese. I am a freelance fashion/beauty illustrator and surface pattern designer. My style is dreamily glamorous and feminine. I love capturing different perspectives of women’s beauty, fashion designs, and nature in a sensual way; blurring the border between tradition and digital by subtly combining pencil, watercolor, and ink with digital techniques to create unique artwork with my own personal touch.

I am eternally in love with beauty, especially women’s beauty. That’s why this is naturally the main subject for the majority of my artwork.

 

Describe the city you’re living in and what it’s like to live there.

I was born and grew up in Hanoi, Vietnam. Hanoi is always in my heart. This is my home; I have all my memories and the people I love here. This city is a mixture of Vietnamese, Chinese, and French architecture with over 1000 years of history. Being here you sense both Asian and European vibes. It has an interesting combination of the old and the new with the taste of both a dynamic fast developing economy and the calmness, peacefulness of days long gone.

 

Hanoi is always in my heart. This is my home

What is the best and worst thing about living in your city?

To be honest, I love the Hanoi of 15- 20 years ago more than now because it was much calmer and more peaceful back then- less noise, less traffic, and people were more relaxed. But I also accept the fact that this city is like a living creature and development/ progress is an inevitable part of life. Hanoi’s development has been giving people- artists included- chances like never before. Everything has both good and bad sides, just like a painting needs the harmony of both bright and dark colors. It all depends on how you choose to look at it and I’d like to lean on the bright side.

 

Best: I can always find a peaceful spot to submerge myself in my own thoughts. People smile at you. Hanoians, in general, are very kind and gentle.

I love sitting alone in my own quiet studio, listening to Chopin, drinking a cup of honey tea and drawing for hours.

 

Worst: The chaos of traffic and noise sometimes.

 

Give us 3 words that describe what it’s like to be a creative in your city.

Diverse, visceral, cultural.

 

How did you start your career in art?

I drew with pencils and crayons before I knew how to write. For my whole childhood, I always loved playing with colors/ shapes/ lines and could spend hours doing that alone. At the age of 13, I asked my parents to let me join professional art classes, they agreed and opened up the whole new world for me. It was actually a special treat for a child. In the early 2000s, Vietnam was still very underdeveloped and in general, people cared more about practical things than satisfying childish hobbies. I attended art classes and school parallelly for 6 years before studying fashion design at Hanoi University of Industrial Fine Arts. I love both drawing and fashion. Throughout that time, I found the perfect connection between them: fashion illustration. However, after graduation, I worked as a fashion designer and kept illustrating as a hobby. It only became a career move when I started freelancing.

 

My main mediums are watercolor and pencil. I’m always fascinated when I play around with different watercolor textures and combine them with my pencil drawings. A few years ago, a client asked me to bring them into a textile print design and that’s how I started with surface pattern design.

 

Since I was a child, I always knew I would do something in the arts; I just didn’t know how it would play out. Right now, it feels like I’m on the right path and where I should be.

 

Since I was a child, I always knew I would do something in the arts; I just didn’t know how it would play out. Right now, it feels like I’m on the right path and where I should be.

Were the people around you supportive of your decision on working as a creative?

Yes, absolutely! I’m very lucky and feel grateful to be surrounded by supportive people- both ones who understand what I do and ones who don’t.

 

I’m grateful to my parents. They actually have no knowledge about this field. They had no clue how I could use art as a profession but they have always been being incredibly supportive and encouraging.  They supported me, gave me both the help and the freedom to pursue what I love doing. To me, that’s the right way to love.

 

I’m grateful to my amazing art teachers who not only gave me a solid foundation as a good starting point but also a ton of guidance and support along the way. They are people whom I look up to to be both humble and open-minded, to never stop trying, never stop learning, never stop practicing to be a better human and artist.

 

I’m grateful to have good thoughtful caring friends and peers who always believe in me even when I have self-doubt.

 

What are some goals and ambitions you have for your future work?

“Beauty will save the world” ― Fyodor Dostoevsky

I want to be successful with my work so that I can do 2 things: Freely spending time on doing the work I love- creating beautiful things- because I do believe beautiful things themselves make the world better. And the 2nd thing is supporting people who are in need, especially children.

I always want to use the money I get from selling my artworks to support poor children to go to school. Education is one of the most essential things that can help people thrive in life. I had the privilege of having full support from my parents for education and almost everything I needed to live. I’m extremely grateful for that so I do hope I can give unfortunate innocent ones that chance too.

 

I also love sharing my knowledge and experiences. I had my first workshop last year and it was surprisingly successful- I didn’t think I was good at teaching before. I plan to share more what I know in the future, hoping to also learn from people in the process too.

 

I’m trying to be the better version of myself day by day.

 

If you could collaborate with any person in the world who would it be?

David Downton is my favorite artist, my first hero. He was the 1st fashion illustrator I discovered. Looking at his artworks inspired me. Since I have discovered many other great ones but, to me, he’s the best.

 

How would you describe the women around you?

I love the fact that women around me have a great diversity of character from serious to fun, from loud and wild to gentle, from extrovert to introvert, from confident to shy, etc. They are beautiful in their own unique ways but they all have this in common: they are independent, kind-hearted, caring and supportive to others- especially other women.

 

They are beautiful in their own unique ways but they all have this in common: they are independent, kind-hearted, caring and supportive to others- especially other women.

Were there any local female creatives that you looked up to when you were growing up?

Yes and no. All the art teachers I have had are male. I didn’t have any female artists in my life to look up to when I was growing up but my mom was a role model to me. She had a big heart with so much love, compassion, kindness and braveness in her. She was also amazingly clever with her delicate hands. She had a strong sense about aesthetic for everything in life though she never talked about making any kind of artwork and never attended any art class before. In a way, she turned daily life activities in to more or less a form of art. I learned a lot from the way she paid attention to details, her perfectionism, and her high beauty standards. Also, thanks to the way she educated me, I have all the independence, determent, dedication and resilience needed to follow my path so far. She was both my mom and my best friend.

 

Are there any challenging aspects of being a female in your industry?

I don’t really see challenges as a female artist but rather see challenges of being an artist in general. Working as a freelance artist, most of the time, I don’t get asked about my gender, age, race, diploma, etc. Clients only care about my artwork, my skills, what I can do for them and how comfortable it is to work with me.

 

Accept challenges, embrace changes and never stop learning: The world is moving too fast, standing still means you’re falling behind.

Do you have any advice to young women who are aspiring to work in your field?

Accept challenges, embrace changes and never stop learning: The world is moving too fast, standing still means you’re falling behind.

 

Trust your path and be kind to yourself: Your worst enemy is yourself- Too much self-doubt and self-criticism drag creative energy down faster than anything else. Everything will come together in time.

 

Most importantly, find your inspiration, be hardworking, be resilient, be determined but don’t forget to enjoy the process along the way and don’t be shy to ask for help when you’re really in need. You’ll be surprised how many people are willing to give you a helping hand.

 

 

Photos courtesy of Bui Thuy An.

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