Meet the Artist: Kim Thai Nguyen

Meet the Artist: Kim Thai Nguyen

Meet the illustrator behind our special artist edition lens cloth.

Kim is a Vietnamese-American artist based in west Michigan. With a love for drawing people and food, she creates art and zines as a medium to explore her identity and process her feelings.


What was your inspiration for this illustration?

I wanted to illustrate a group of friends lounging peacefully, just enjoying each other’s company. The pandemic has isolated many of us for the past two years and friendships have been on my mind. 

Can you walk us through your creative process? 

First I consider what my subject will be, what mood I want to create, and if necessary, do some research on the topic. Then I’ll look for images that might aid me such as figure poses or inspiration for colors, patterns, textures, shapes, etc. I like to keep that organized within either a Pinterest board or saved directly to a folder on my desktop. Then I start sketching! Sometimes I sketch tiny thumbnails on paper but most of the time I sketch digitally in Photoshop. I try to sketch at least 2-3 different concepts or compositions. Then after choosing which direction to move in, I “ink” the linework and finally, I fill in all the colors and tinker with them until I’m satisfied.


How did you discover your love for color?

Bright colors are inherently eye-catching so naturally I was drawn to them as a kid. I’ll never forget the hex code for neon green (#00FF00) because it was my favorite color back then and I used it repeatedly to design my first (and ugliest) website when I was in elementary school. That attraction remained, even when I grew older and had phases where I was into neutral colors like black and grey, I always managed to add a pop of color to my outfit and my art was still brightly colored. I think it’s a combination of being influenced by my mom (who also loves bright colors), our culture (lots of Vietnamese dishes and desserts are very colorful), the media I consume (cartoons, comics, video games, etc.) and the general reason being that vivid colors are playful and I want to have fun when I’m creating!


Three places you find inspiration?
  • As much as I don’t like to admit it, these days I find most of my inspiration on social media. I follow lots of artists on instagram and twitter and seeing their art fuels me! 
  • Pinterest has a seemingly infinite amount of images where I can find myself being inspired by a photo of makeup, a piece of clothing, or even a picture of a living room. 
  • Offline I find inspiration in reading graphic novels, watching animated shows/movies, browsing Artist Alleys at conventions, and looking at murals while walking through cities. 
What advice do you have for someone pursuing a creative career? 

It can be very difficult but remember you are not alone! Go out and connect with your local art community! Take that unrelated day job to pay your bills if you have to and keep practicing, try to teach yourself when you can, and never give up. Also, it’s very easy to get swept up in creating for ‘likes’ on social media and trying to keep up with that awful algorithm but please try to not let it dictate how you feel about your art. Create for yourself first and foremost.