SYBILLA C. BERTOLAJA

Creativity Bites Mi Hoang Art
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Welcome to the very first story of Creativity Bites.

This month I have had the pleasure of meeting with artist Mi Hoang.

We have talked about creative processes, colour palettes, podcasts and self love. I hope you'll like it.

Now sit comfortably, pour yourself something to drink, and enjoy!

Mi Hoang Art 

For those of you who don't know her yet, Mi Hoang is a lovely German-born Vietnamese young lady now living in Copenhagen, Denmark.

She has a sparkling personality and she has been drawing since forever. Her passion has developed over the years, from a very strong Sailor Moon phase to its exploit with classic-realistic portraits and still life motives.

It started as a hobby until this year it has become a full-time job.  

Hello Mi, thanks for being with us today. Let's start by telling our readers what defines your style as an artist and illustrator. 

"Hello! Thanks for having me here!

Well, defining my style in one word can be quite challenging as it is continuously developing but I would say that the key adjectives would be dreamy, flowery and in love with details. At the moment I am very into pink and red aesthetics. I think they're both happy and eye-catching colours. Funny enough I actually started with b/w drawings and then switched to this palette of shades".  

Can you describe us your creative process? 

"Well sometimes I just have an idea and it usually manifest itself in form of a semi-composition. So I would first think of all those different elements I see, sketch them on my notebook and then try to combine them harmoniously. To do so I would also document myself online, maybe on Pinterest, and study different shapes or take inspiration from similar objects. I would see which creative angle to use in order to make it work on a bigger scale. Take for instance tulips, such beautiful flowers, simple yet rich in details. I would look at thousands of tulips and study their texture, then I would do some more sketching and refined composition. Eventually, I would move to the bigger picture: outlining and filling the blanks". 

Growing up, have you always known you would have become an illustrator?

"I have always loved drawing but it has been only this year (thanks Pandemic!) that I have found the right combination of time, motive and inspiration in order for me to focus properly and experiment different techniques. A lot of friends of mine over the years have asked me "Why don't you do something with your art?", well I guess the time has come! 

Nowadays there are plenty of talented artists out there and with the power of social media, Instagram particularly, I feel like Art has blown up even more. Any artists can now showcase their work and immediately reach a vast audience but it can also be quite intimidating. I guess the trick is just going with the flow and keep trying". 

Speaking of IG and how easier it is today to stay informed on what other creative talents are doing, is there any specific artists you follow in the Scandinavian Art scene?  

"Well, Scandinavia is great for many different artistic areas like Design, Architecture, Abstract Painting etc. It's not quite the same style I use to express myself though, to be honest. I follow a lot of American artists as well as European illustrators. One of them is Dutch artist Martine Johanna, she's a painter and a drawer, and she has an education in fashion textile. I have been following her for years! She has a different aesthetic approach but she's definitely an inspiration in terms of techniques, she's very focused on dreamy motives as well as brushing like impressionists. 

All the artists that I follow definitely inspire me to be more creative and productive.

I also follow practicing artist & designer Gemma Davis (@_gemmadavis), as well as Norwegian illustrator Esra Røise (@esrarois) whom is a great example of Scandinavian aesthetics and, last but not least, Erik Jones (@erikjonesart). I could name many more but these are among my favourites". 

While platforms like IG can boost our visibility and give us instant gratification, Mi reminds us to approach it a bit more objectively and to take care of ourselves.  

"Nowadays our relationship with Social Media can be tricky. If you don't use it moderately, it can turn into a vicious cycle and therefore affect your creative flow. There is a lot of art output and whenever you have to compete with that level of fast productivity as an artist, or simply as a human being, it can be quite difficult. It takes time to brainstorm new ideas and draw new concepts, and while Instagram algorithm rewards you for posting often during the day, my creative process cannot always cope with it.

Personally, I think that besides the constant fight against the algorithm and the "need to be seen" on the platform, it is important to remind ourselves that we should not base our value and self confidence on our number of followers or on what others (strangers, quite frankly) have to say about our art.

I have decided to maintain a healthier relationship with this platform and this is why it is not my goal to reach a huge audience for the sake of it, I would rather have a smaller fanbase that truly appreciates my work and understands it. I say you do you: make art and most importantly have fun!".

"When the struggle comes, it is important to be forgiving and OK with who you are.

Sometimes you are not on top of your game and it's in those moments that you should remind yourself that you are not here to be perfect or to hit all your goals, you are simply doing your best". 

I know it is very difficult to list talents but I am too curious to know, who are your top 3 artists right now? Can you think of any musicians, painters, designers, architects etc. 

"As mentioned before, the first one I can think of is painter Martine Johanna (@martinejohanna), followed by another talented artist, embroider Sammy Dudley (@pink.pal) whom I think is still not appreciated enough for her skills. I have been following her for quite some time now, since I also share a passion for embroidery. Her colour palettes and motives are totally speaking to me. Moving towards Fashion and Haute Couture instead, I'd like to give a big shutout to Iris Van Herpen (@irisvanherpen), she's also Dutch and essentially a sculptor.   

These are all artists and disciplines that I have always admired, I look at these ladies and their work is just amazing!"

Now, while working on something, each one of us finds inspiration differently. I would like to ask you: when you find your momentum and start drawing, do you usually listen to some music in the background or do you simply enjoy the silence? 

"As a matter of fact, yes, I do listen to something while creating: tons of podcasts, I am a podcasts nerd! I mostly love podcasts about politics, history, society and pop culture. Lately I have listened to The Ezra Klein Show on Vox Media, Throughline and The Guardian Today in Focus . I also like the Wired Podcasts  series or another good one is Terrible, Thanks for Asking on Spotify". 

If you wouldn't be an illustrator, what would you be? 

"If I think of other artistic disciplines, I'd say something that is not totally out of reach is painting. I have never tried it but I have always respected it. I guess my illustrations could move towards paintings... or maybe even murals! I love murals and I believe we don't have many in Copenhagen. We have a lot of street art but I think murals would be pretty cool.

Otherwise I think Fashion Design is super interesting as a discipline itself and could be also something I'd like to experiment with. What fascinates me most of it is how it all starts as bidimensional and evolves into a tridimensional piece of art. I don't think I would make a good fashion designer but I have great respect for this craft!".  

Last but not least, where can people buy your amazing work of art? 

"For now people can buy my originals on Instagram, as well as buy my new limited edition of prints at Project Nord. The collection drops out on Friday, the 27th of November. I am very happy about this collaboration where each print is carefully curated and comes at a reasonable price. This way I hope I can make even more people happy and it works perfectly for me because I can now see what works best for my audience and test my creativity".   

"Creating Art should not be a competition. You should do Art for yourself and because you enjoy it, not only to please others". 

Find Dieu-Mi Hoang's Art @Mihoang.art  and at www.projectnord.com 

*Pictures courtesy of  Mi Hoang*


Interview by Sybilla C. Bertolaja, November 2020

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