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Mai Nguyen

Mai Nguyen

Meet Vietnamese character animator and concept artist, Mai Nguyen.

 

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m Mai. I’m a character animator, concept artist living in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. I love to animate, I love watching shapes and colors moving and twinning together. The joy of watching the result is always worth the effort of hours of animating for me.

 

Describe the city you’re living in and what it’s like to live there.
I’m currently living in Ho Chi Minh City, before that, I have about 6 years living in Singapore.
Singapore is a developed country, almost futuristic where everything is clean and modernize. This is the hub of Southeast Asia, therefore, lots of talks and workshops happening here every year. It’s a good place if you want to build your network and learn work ethic. However, the way of living is very fast-paced and the living cost is very high, it could be very difficult to make a living if you are an artist there.
Ho Chi Minh city is my birthplace, therefore, I can find emotional connection and inspiration more easily here. The city is busting with life and always vibrant. The chaotic of a developing country means more opportunities, more corners to discover. The cost of living is also not high and the pace is much slower, so I find that it’s easier to have a work-life balance here.

 

I love to animate, I love watching shapes and colors moving and twinning together. The joy of watching the result is always worth the effort of hours of animating for me.

What is the best and worst thing about living in your city?
The best thing is cheap food, a slow-paced way of living.
The worst thing is pollution and traffic. I hope we can fix this in our lifetime.

 

Give us 3 words that describe what it’s like to be a creative in your city.
Hard-working, resilient, daring.

 

How did you start your career in art?

I discovered animation art and studied about it in Singapore. Before that, I didn’t know that animation can take on so many forms, my knowledge about animation was just limited to cartoons or Disney. Once I moved to Singapore and enrolled in LASALLE College of the Arts, I was introduced into many types of animation and therefore being charmed by the freedom of expression of the art form. Since then I have been diving into animation art and experiment with it as much as I could. There are just so many things to try and I’m not sure I could try them all in my lifetime (laugh).

 

I discovered animation art and studied about it in Singapore.

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

Thankfully my family is very supportive. They paid for my education and always there when I need support. I’ve also got lots of support from teachers since my school days. I’m the lucky one and I couldn’t thank everyone enough.

 

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

I just wish my health is better so I could do more animation, travel the world, and get into as many productions as I could.

 

If you could collaborate with any person in the world who would it be?
There are just too many. Especially with animation, it’s a collaborative job, so by nature, you have to collaborate if you want to make anything good. I would love to collaborate with the masters like Aaron Blaise, James Baxter, Glen Keane. But then I also want to collaborate with Vietnamese illustrators to make something new, like Kaa Illustration, Tran Nguyen Trung Tinh, Tinh Anh Huynh, etc.

 

They are all strong people who are very supportive. They are proud and talented and caring.

How would you describe the women around you?

They are all strong people who are very supportive. They are proud and talented and caring.

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

Giao Chi, she’s the writer for an old series called “Mai Mơ and Chi Ly”, published on a local magazine for kids, back in the 90s. She’s the first writer whom I admired for her rich imagination and humor. More impressively, she’s written the series when she was still in middle school. I haven’t heard of her and her works after she went to Singapore to study, except for an old interview stating she works for Disney Channel Asia and Direct TV.

 

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

In Vietnam, not actually, or maybe I haven’t met any challenge yet since I only came back and work here for 1 year. I think I’m very lucky to meet and to work with people who give me every freedom I need, even give me opportunities to grow. I’m very grateful.

 

Don’t be afraid, be proud of what you do and opportunities will come.

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

Don’t be afraid, be proud of what you do and opportunities will come. Help others and be kind, but also remember to take care of yourself.

 

Photos courtesy of Mai Nguyen.

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