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Noh.A

Noh.A

Meet illustrator from Hanoi, Noh.A.

 

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

My name is Hong Anh Nguyen (as known as Noh.A) – a freelance illustrator from Vietnam. I mostly draw children’s books, project illustrations, and sometimes comics. I believe that each illustration belongs to its own world, so I always want to tell different stories through my artworks.

 

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

I was born and live with my family in the Old Quarter in Hanoi – the capital of Vietnam. For me, it is always my homeland, the place that makes me feel so peaceful and safe.

 

I believe that each illustration belongs to its own world, so I always want to tell different stories through my artworks.

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

When I was a child, Hanoi was still a quiet city, the pace of life was slow and peaceful, and this was the thing that I liked the most. Nowadays, the city is transforming quickly, busier and noisier. But fortunately, in that mess, I can still find some peaceful corners which are full of memories and nostalgia somewhere. Standing watching the sunset by the Red River, or wandering on an empty street in the Tet holiday… My feelings for now and 10 years ago are still the same.

 

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

Peaceful, Happy, Romance

 

How did you start your career in art?

When I was a kid, the amusement for kids was not as much as it is now, there were no games or cartoons… So my childhood hobby was devouring children’s fiction books and manga. It was the fantasy world of literature that raised and grew my fascination with drawing (especially with manga style) since I was in grade 2. Then, It has become an indispensable element in my life. However, at that time in Vietnam, drawing could not help someone to earn a lot of money and it was not recognized by many people either. In addition, my mother, with the ideal of a traditional woman. She always wished that I could go to a good university and get a stable office job. It would be very convenient for me to support myself, get married and have children. So, in 2011, instead of taking an exam at the Fine Arts University, I decided to take an exam at Hanoi University, majoring in Japanese. It could help my mother feel reassured, help me improve my Japanese knowledge, open opportunities to go to Japan and make my dream of being a mangaka come true. Now, when recalling that time, I realise that thought was very naive. But thanks to it, although I haven’t learned traditional painting at the Fine Arts University, I had the chance to meet one of my best friends. It was her confidence and energy that inspired me to join many famous drawing clubs in Hanoi at that time (I was a quite closed and timid person in community networking). Based on it, I got to know many friends with similar hobbies.
We did establish the studio together, got our first project, and worked together until now. In the process, I learned that besides the manga style, there were many ways to express my story, and I gradually set the goal of becoming an illustrator.

 

It was the fantasy world of literature that raised and grew my fascination with drawing (especially with manga style) since I was in grade 2.

 

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

Yes, my family and friends always support me. As I said, 10 years ago, drawing was not really considered as a formal job. There were many families raising conflicts because parents don’t want their children to become artists. My mother was very worried about me, I think she didn’t want me to be an artist 10 years ago, but she never banned my passion from drawing, I am always grateful to her for that. And up to now, even when I’m not really good yet, my mother is always proud to introduce me as an artist to everyone, and this is a huge motivation for me.

 

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

I have not been professionally trained for drawing at Fine Arts University. All of the products I made are the results of an accumulation from the experience of working with other seniors artists and working outsource. I always want to express the story better and better through drawings. But there was a moment, I felt like my skills were slowing down, and the work sometimes blows me away so I had no time to relax and practice more. So in 2018, I was determined to stop for a while. I entered the University of Industrial Fine Arts to have the opportunity to learn more about traditional painting and other artistic expressions besides digital art (my main skill now) I was a little older than my classmates, and it was a little difficult for me to go to school and go to work at the same time. I had to reduce my workload, so my income was reduced too. But I have a chance to live in a young and active environment again, to refresh the inspiration of creating. I hope that I can finish my curriculum soon, and study abroad in a country that has a developed illustration industry for 1 or 2 years so that I can enjoy learning the thing that I like when I was still young and apply my experience to my artwork. And I think I need to improve my English skills too.

 

I hope that I can finish my curriculum soon, and study abroad in a country that has a developed illustration industry for 1 or 2 years so that I can enjoy learning the thing that I like when I was still young and apply my experience to my artwork.

 

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

There are so many talented artists and creatives I admire, so it’s really hard to pick one. I want to collaborate with all of them, but I also want to be sure that I am ready before collaborating with someone.

 

How would you describe the women around you?

They are very beautiful (in many ways), feminine but really strong.

 

They are very beautiful (in many ways), feminine but really strong.

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

To be honest, none. My passion for drawing started from the manga, and when I switched to be an illustrator, I didn’t really know much about domestic artists. But one of the first illustrators who helped me know about the concept of “illustration” is Khoa Le. When I was in high school, I used to read a picture book that was illustrated by her. I was impressed very much by its difference in expression with the manga, but it took me several years to officially learn and know about illustrations. Now, I also make friends with many female illustrators in Vietnam. They are kind and talented people. They inspire me a lot.

 

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

In the history of my country, becoming an artist was a very difficult thing whether you are male or female. But now, as the illustration career gradually forms and develops, the opportunities are open for both men and women. I always think it is a blessing to work in this industry because in my opinion, with art, the biggest challenge for you is not gender but creativity.

 

Never lose your patience when looking at the success of the people around you. Stay calm and walk steadily step by step on your way. Learn everything whatever you want and whenever you can because one day, all of those experiences will create who you are and your artworks too.

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

Never lose your patience when looking at the success of the people around you. Stay calm and walk steadily step by step on your way. Learn everything whatever you want and whenever you can because one day, all of those experiences will create who you are and your artworks too.

 

 

Photos courtesy of Noh.A.

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