Khoa Le is a freelance illustrator, graphic designer, and painter based in Vietnam. She describes her work as whimsical, dark, yet vibrant and combines traditional and digital processes to create her final pieces. One of the things that I love about her work is that her subjects (usually women or girls) look like they have been captured in time while in the midst of movement — whether their hair is flowing in the water or they are walking while taking off their shoes. After being intrigued by Khoa’s work, I wanted to learn more about her as an artist and am very excited to be sharing her interview with you all! Thank you Khoa! -eden
Where are you based?
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
What three words would you choose to best describe your artwork?
whimsical, dark, yet vibrant
Has your childhood had a significant effect on your work? If so, paint us a picture of what your childhood was like in words? (If you have an image you would like to share, please do.)
I was a weird kid that was usually deep in her own world with her own bizarre ideas.
Have you had a formal art education?
Yes, I went to art university, but my major was graphic design.
Was there a specific moment when you knew you wanted to be an artist?
I’ve always been doodling and painting on everything in sight since I was a kid. Back then, all of my used notebooks, old desk/table, and bag were covered in drawings. I guess that pretty much of the time I thought I wanted to draw all my life. But there wasn’t any moment when I had an idea like “I’m gonna be an artist” or “I will be a painter.” My “life as an artist” came to me very casually.
What was the first piece of art that you sold? How did the sale come about?
I think, officially, my “Alice” print was the first sale I made — in my first exhibition.
Tell us about what inspires your work.
Nature, plants, flowers, music, movies… anything that can trigger images in my mind.
When you feel a lack of inspiration, how do you find it again?
I just relax and go do something else. Maybe read a book, go out, watch a movie, or meet friends for coffee… anything that gets my mind off the frustration of a creative block.
What materials and/or tools do you use to create your work? Do you have any favorite techniques or processes that you are willing to share?
I usually combine photos and textures I make from water color or oils through a digital process. I draw and paint with a tablet in Photoshop.
Approximately how many pieces of art do you typically create in a year?
It all depends on how productive I am that year. But I guess, a lot! (Not only just artwork but also illustrations for books, magazines, and commissions.)
How do you make money through your art? Please explain what works for you and why. (For example: selling originals or prints online or in galleries, doing commissions, working with major brands, etc.)
I usually only sell prints during my exhibitions, and right now I haven’t registered to sell my artwork exclusively on any online website or gallery yet. So my income does not depend on my artwork (which gives me absolute freedom to create anything, in any style I like, without the need to please anybody). I work for a publishing house as a graphic designer and also receive requests for magazine/book illustrations, commissions, book projects, and advertising gigs from Vietnam and around the world.
Do you “make a living” as an artist? If not, how do you primarily support yourself?
I do make a living as an artist.
What have you found to be the most successful way(s) to market your art? Do you have any tips to share?
I just put things on my website and hope that people like what they see! I am not very good at marketing myself. All I want to do is create.
How would you describe the “business” of being an artist?
It is not something that makes you rich, but it gives you a pretty satisfying life.
What is your favorite thing about being an artist?
When I finish an artwork, and I am happy with it, it’s the most rewarding feeling.
Do you have any current obsessions, art or non-art related?
I’m obsessed with dolls and figurines. The more bizarre/kinky/strange the better.
What piece of advice would you give other women who are pursuing careers in art?
Just follow what your heart wants to paint, and practice a lot.
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