Name / Artist Name:
What do you consider yourself? Artist, illustrator, painter, designer, other?
I consider myself primarily a digital illustrator and also an aspiring cultural artist, but I don’t just limit myself to these titles. I like to explore other mediums such as filmmaking, creative writing, and other art forms because why limit myself?
What are you working on currently? Or what kinds of projects have you done in the past?
Currently, I’m working on an illustration series exploring the different traditional clothing styles of the Hmong Diaspora. Doing research on each regional outfit has been quite fun (and time consuming). Everytime I think I’m finished with the series, I learn about a new Hmong group, so the project is never-ending haha.
Could you talk about how you got into art or doing what you do today? What’s your story? What made you want to pursue this path? Were there any challenges you had along the way?
Art has always been an integral part of my identity. From drawing Disney fanart in my childhood to creating art as self expression during my early teen years, drawing has always allowed me to self-reflect and visualize my interests. Nowadays, not only do I create illustrations to fulfill my curiosities, but I also make them to communicate ideas or depict history, culture, and knowledge to share with others. I’m still figuring out what path lies ahead for me in my creative journey, but along the way I’ve learned a lot about what kind of art I enjoy making the most and what makes the most impact. Of course, I faced challenges on my journey and still do today such as trying to make a career out of my passion for art.
Did you attended art school or majored/minored in Art or Design in college? If so, what were your experiences with it and did you think it helped you become a better artist? If you did not attended college or attended but did not majored in anything art-related, what helped pushed you to pursue art or improve your craft?
I am currently in college pursuing my bachelor’s degree in graphic design. I made this decision quite recently and am excited to see where it takes me. Taking these classes has been really helpful in developing my design process, sharpening my attention to details, and receiving feedback and critique on how I can improve my skills.
How do you balance art with work and life? How do you make time for art?
As a college student, my schedule can get very hectic, however, I find that I can always make time to work on an illustration during short breaks in between my classes (when I have nothing to do lol), during lunch, or on the weekends.
What are ways you find work or generate income as an artist?
I’m quite new to using my art as a source of income. As of right now, I have an online print shop on Etsy (@Manchamoon) which is where I primarily profit from my art. Occasionally I will take on commissions, but that honestly depends on how available I am.
Where do you get your ideas from?
My interests and inspirations are always changing and come from a variety of sources. For the past two years, I have been inspired by Hmong culture. Specifically how I can use illustration as a form of storytelling or reimagination. Sometimes, my illustrations are inspired from a curiosity that I have about a topic or even personal experiences that I’ve gone through. Other than that, I also take inspiration from the media that I consume such as movies, shows, books, videos, Pinterest, etc.
What kinds of tools do you use to make your work or what is your typical artistic process like?
As a digital artist, my primary tool is my ipad. It’s convenient, efficient, and I don’t have to clean up any messes. As for my artistic process, it usually begins with an interest or curiosity that I want to explore, sometimes a need for self-expression. Once I’ve locked down on a concept, I assemble some picture references and/or create a mood board, begin sketching the composition on a canvas size to my liking and finally proceed with my standard formula of creating linework, laying down base colors, adding shadows and highlights, and lastly adding details.
Are there any artists you look up to or find inspiring?
Omg, there are so many. Obviously, all of the artists on the Hmanganime page hehe (y’all are so talented!). Some other artists that I really admire are the film-director Guillermo Del Toro (LOVE LOVE his films), Leilani Joy, Kao Lee Thao, imawonder, trungles, Matthew Sorgie, Bao Pham, and Kelogsloops to name a few.
Do you have any favorite books, apps, movies, resources, or art tools that you recommend?
Again, so much to say here haha, but I’ll try to include the ones I adore the most.
Webtoons (I don’t really read many books now a days):
- My Giant Nerd Boyfriend (a good slice of life webtoon. Makes me laugh quite often XD)
- Lore Olympus (a new/modern take on Greek gods)
- Siren’s Lament (Kdrama-esk but with mermaids :3)
- Procreate (for digital illustration on Ipad).
- InShot (for simple video editing).
- Adobe Lightroom (for editing pics).
Movies (my favorite topic):
- The Shape of Water (18+)
- Howl’s Moving Castle (all of the Studio Ghibli movies really)
- Kubo and the Two Strings
- The Sorcerer and the White Snake
- Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
- Tax preparation info for MN Artists: https://foxtaxservice.com/resources
Art Tools (you can make art with anything really):
- Canson brand sketchbooks
- Sakura Pigma Micron pens
- Arteza gouache paint
- Ohuhu alcohol markers
Is there anybody you would like to collaborate or work with? Could be a person, another artist, or company.
I would be down to collaborate with any Hmong or non-Hmong artist! I have a project planned revolving around a book, so look out for that.
Is there any advice you would like to give to young artists or people just starting out?
Keep doing what you’re doing! No matter how much you or others doubt your skills/work, cast those negative thoughts aside. Art is a journey not a destination. I used to think that my art should look a certain way or style, but I’ve come to learn that my art is whatever I want it to be and that it is reflective of where I’m at as an individual!
What is your ultimate dream project or something you’ll like to accomplish in your lifetime (could be art or non-art related)?
I think it would be awesome to publish a book with my illustrations. Specifically, a book that can teach younger generation Hmong Americans about Hmong culture, clothes, traditions and keep them connected to our culture :)
What is the best way to get a hold of you or view or purchase your work?
I have a linktree with all of my social media: https://linktr.ee/manchamoon Otherwise, folx can support me by following my Instagram @manchamoon, my Facebook Page @Alex Yang Art or by purchasing prints from my Etsy shop @manchamoon.