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Vu Thao Chi

Vu Thao Chi

Meet illustrator from Czech Republic, Vu Thao Chi.

 

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

My name is Vu Thao Chi and I just go by Chi – nice to meet you all! I was born and raised in the Czech Republic and both of my parents are Vietnamese. I spent my whole life living and studying in the Czech Republic up until two years ago when I started doing my undergraduate degree at Minerva Schools at KGI. I basically travel somewhere else every 4 months and that has had a big impact on who I am and who I’m becoming.

 

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

As I said previously, I don’t really live in one place now. In the past two years, I’ve spent time in four different cities (San Francisco, Seoul, Hyderabad, New York) and I’m about to move to Berlin to start my junior year at Minerva. So I feel like I live everywhere, really. And the great thing about living everywhere is knowing that nothing is ever too far away for you to reach. I get to meet people from all over and I feel like I’m learning so much by just living every day.

 

And the best thing about every city is the phase that comes after that – discovering the place and culture, tasting the food, meeting the people, walking the streets and slowly becoming a “local” while navigating your way around without a map. I love that.

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

I’d say that the worst thing about any city I move to is settling in. There’s always an uncomfortable phase of both rational and irrational fears, concerns, trying to debunk them and figuring out how to function on a day-to-day basis in that new environment. And the best thing about every city is the phase that comes after that – discovering the place and culture, tasting the food, meeting the people, walking the streets and slowly becoming a “local” while navigating your way around without a map. I love that.

 

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

Inquisitive, Genuine, Experiential.

 

How did you start your career in art?

I started out at the age of 14, in which my first go at art was singing. I really immersed myself in music and was set on becoming a singer and I also started dancing somewhere around that time. I’m really not sure what happened, but I seemed to have lost the spark and energy for music when I started university because I just had so much to figure out about myself and I felt like I needed to do something new. When it comes to graphic design, I started dabbling in it in my first year of university, when I started designing visuals for small student-lead initiatives in our student community. I really never thought it would turn into a career path. I just did what I enjoyed doing and I think that’s a really great way of establishing a career because it comes from a sincere place. A few months later, I was able to get my hands on digital illustration and I became obsessed with it. I realized that I don’t need to be the most skilled illustrator or designer in the world, to still be able to effectively tell a story or send a message through my work. More than focusing on the flaws, I like to think of the impact my work could have. I really love doing that and I hope to do it for as long as I can!

 

More than focusing on the flaws, I like to think of the impact my work could have.

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

My closest friends were and still are my #1 cheerleaders and best supporters. As for my parents, it was a concept they had to grapple with. When I used to do music in high school, there was always a big cloud looming over our relationship, because they didn’t think being an artist is a sustainable career path and emphasized that I should focus on my academic growth to have a “regular” and “secure” job. And while hearing out their concerns, I knew that I needed to do what’s best for my heart and soul. Our parents want the best for us. Not always do they know what exactly it is, though. And I guess that’s up to us to decide. As time went on though, I do believe that they became proud of my accomplishments and the way I found ways to grow!

 

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

I would love to pick up music again and marry the two of my passions together – designing visuals for my music perhaps. I’d also love to work with brands or organizations that run on a social purpose. I’m always looking for ways that I can make my work become more than just something “pretty”. So I’d like to continue doing that.

 

I’m always looking for ways that I can make my work become more than just something “pretty”.

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

There are so many people to choose from. I’ll cheat a little and choose a group of insanely talented people – BTS. I honestly believe that they’ve changed the paradigm for East Asians in the world-wide mainstream and because I’ve been a fan of theirs since their debut, I’d love for this relationship to come full circle and to be able to work with them.

 

How would you describe the women around you?

Very hard-working, tough, and wise.

 

Very hard-working, tough, and wise.

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

I never really made the link before, but my mom sings a lot and I guess I took that from her.

 

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

When it comes to illustration and graphic design, I haven’t yet experienced any female-specific challenges. But then again, I’ve only been properly working in the field for about a year, so I guess I’ll know more as time goes by.

 

You DO NOT have to be perfect to do this.

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

You DO NOT have to be perfect to do this.
I very much struggle imposter syndrome and although it has gotten significantly better, it’s still there. However, even with my insecurities, I’ve done a lot of design work that I am proud of and was able to score internships as a graphic designer. So another piece of advice would be that you shouldn’t let your self-doubt stop you from getting where you want to be!

 

 

Photos courtesy of Vu Thao Chi.

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