mellamonadroj asked: I am in AWE your art is amazing!!! Your defiantly my favorite artist. What type of pens do you use? The lines are beautiful! Can't stop looking at your work
Aw, thank you! That’s really sweet of you. :)
kitsunetoneko asked: Great new business cards! I hope that you will update your comics again soon, too. Your art is so very sweet and cute.
Thanks! I really hope I can do that, soon, too!
I decided this year that I want to do something extra special with my business cards. If people are kind enough to ask for or about my work, I think they should be able to take something special away.
I printed two card versions corresponding to the beginning and the end of The Little Mermaid, a story very near and dear to me, in limited run with a space for a print number and room for me to sign so my cards are like tiny little prints. I want to see how well this works out, and I might continue to do this in the future.
If you ever run into me around Minneapolis or Saint Paul, I might have some of these on me :)
It’s always exciting to be updating my business card.
I liked the old version (right), but I drew it to size last year, and it’s very small. I wanted to see how a larger image would translate. We’ll see how it goes!
Trung, a recently joined (and dearly loved) Face Forward Illustrator, immigrated to the United States with his parents in 1992. As a child his parents strictly monitored his media consumption so he never saw comic book superheroes like Batman or Spiderman on TV. Instead he discovered these characters at the library, and as a child developed a liking for illustrated books. More specifically, he enjoyed French and Belgian comic artists due to their lighthearted drawing styles. Besides being of great influence for his artistic development, reading library books also helped Trung learn English.
“I used to like to draw pictures of superheroes from, like, the 1930s, and I remember being really surprised that none of my friends knew who Buck Rogers was. Even though I really liked to read about superheroes and how they came to be created, I never took an interest in actually reading superhero comics.”
Trung developed a special inclination towards books with pretty illustrations, which frequently turned out to be fairy tales. Inspired by 20th century book and poster illustration at a critical point in his artistic development, much of Trung’s work now reflects these styles of illustration. Ironically, often disguised in these beautiful images were euphemisms for more serious commentaries.
“I love pretty stories where ugliness and violence are hiding in plain sight. I think it contributed to my interest in issues of visual culture and identity - the images and themes that we privilege as beauty and goodness reveal a lot about our unspoken biases and prejudices.”
These days Trung works as an administrative assistant in a preschool and creates illustrations and comics on the side. Currently he is working on a children’s book for a local non-profit and creating a collection of short stories “centering on trans-generational immigrant and identities”. Because his artwork is not his main source of income, his success is not based on monetary measures. Instead he defines his success by how personally fulfilled he feels. Trung explained that his success is measured intrinsically instead of extrinsically, but acknowledged that for working artists this definition of “success” might be different.
Trung is also a new member of the Face Forward community! He started as a participant in the Let’s Talk Dialogues during the summer of 2013, where he had the chance to meet a bunch of other creative minds and experience the inherent impact of dialoguing in the dynamic Face Forward artist community.
After the summer he was asked to be an Educational Facilitator for the Fall 2013 sessions, along with Pearll Warren and Ashe Howard Allan. This is where I had the privilege of meeting Trung for the first time, and I’m grateful for the vast amount of knowledge Trung shared with all of us over the past 8 weeks.
“I find that I’m more directly involved with Face Forward’s mission as a facilitator than as an artist. Face Forward’s focus on humanity through art encourages dialogues in and around communities in terms of being responsible art-makers. A good first step to creating socially responsible art is to try to understand the context behind our respective media.”
Face Forward has developed a collective of “socially conscious” artists, which means different things to the different people involved. For Trung, being socially conscious doesn’t necessarily insinuate action, but does involve a sense of responsibility. In his opinion, being socially conscious doesn’t mean you have to fix all the oppressions present in the world, but you do have to acknowledge and engage with the people and ideas that have been silenced.
“People and artists who take that consciousness a step further and incorporate it into their works and their actions, artistic or otherwise, are socially responsible. And I think social responsibility is a social effort - it’s about giving those systematically omitted voices in our communities room to tell their own stories and really listening to what they’re saying. “
During our groups last Let’s Talk Dialogue this fall we spent an hour and half exploring artistic iconography, with Trung confidently leading the way. He ended the session by defining art as a “persisting moment in time”, a new framework for understanding art that has remained with me even after the dialogues ended.
“Art is evidence of a human history, and I want to be a part of that. I just want to be able to have participated in that dialogue, in making that evidence.”
*All Illustrations created and provided by Trung Le
Thanks for the great interview! <3
With the way my schedule works, it’s tough to keep up with sustained projects, but I like doing little tiny concept comics like these. I’ve always been stuck in this either/or mindset about whether I should work with really consistent but ornate pen ink lines or really expressive brush lines. I really like both, so I’m going to try to do both. It’s fun to see how much a little practice and a slight change of pace changes the way I worked over the course of a couple months.
The ‘story’ is super spare and was conceived when I did two concept drawings that were originally supposed to be a part of some zines. I revisited the characters and did a thing.
Dustin Cabeal from Comic Bastards gave a very nice review of my comic for Jason Walz’s anthology, Crap Shoot.
“I’ll be honest this is a story I can probably read a dozen times and take something new from it each and every time. I don’t know how to describe the story to you other than by saying that it’s inspired by Greek mythology and deals with love. The artwork is fantastic and has a huge range of skills attached to it. Every bit of the art is filled with solid colors and harsh lines and yet there is an overall softness to the look of the art. It’s definitely a great addition to the issue.”
Thanks, Dustin! And thank you to Jason Walz for curating the anthology.
The LADIES OF LITERATURE zine is now available for online pre-order! Featuring the work of 36 talented artists, this volume includes 56 pages of female book characters and authors spanning several genres and time periods!
CONTRIBUTING ARTISTS: Abigail Malate | Alex Bahena | Amanda Scurti | Amelia Chia | Andy Lee | Arielle Jovellanos | Ava Nguyen | Brigid Vaughn | Chantal El-Bikai | Desiree Surjadi | Diana Huh | Emily Ho | Erica Chan | Grace Fong | Grisselle Rivera | Jackie Yang | Janet Sung | Jenny Xu | Karina McBeth | Katrina Richter | Katy Farina | Kirsten Sjursen-Lien | Kristen Acampora | Kristen Davis | Laura MacMahon | Lily Luo | Lily Pfaff | Michelle Hiraishi | Pablo Leon | Paulina Ho | Penny Candy Studios | Rachel Royale | Trung Le Nguyen | Viktoria Ridzel | Xiao Li | Yssa Badiola
Teaser art by Trung Le Nguyen (Gerda and the Snow Queen), Grace Fong (Alanna of Trebond, Daine Sarrasri, Luna Lovegood, and Hermione Granger), Viktoria Ridzel (Bianca di Angelo), and Rachel Royale (Persephone).
All proceeds are being donated to charity projects promoting classroom literacy. First 20 orders include a free gift! Please allow at least one month for turnaround time. Also note: A few pieces feature language and tasteful nudity.
Get your zines here! I’m so excited to see ‘Gerda’ in print!