I Am First

Here is a video interview of me discussing my journey as a first generation college student. The video was produced by the student team of: Jacob Bluhm, Tony Pha, and Michelle Sandquist from a PHOTO-330, Video Production Fundamentals at the University of Wisconsin-Stout.

Dua’s Artist Tips

After having gone through personal experience and several art and design courses, I have compiled a list of important creative tips to live by as an artist. Hopefully some of these tips will be helpful or motivate some of you to continue thriving in the art world!

1. ALWAYS make work. The number one reason why most artists do not succeed in the art world (or in anything) is because they stopped trying. If you don’t give a damn about your work, who else would? You’re only as good as the last artwork, painting, or design you’ve made. Do not let your current project be your last. Besides, how do you know how good you can become if you suddenly just…STOPPED?

2. Study life and apply it to your work. Go out into the world and observe EVERYTHING! Observe people, animals, and landscapes and buildings. Study their structure and how they function or move. Sketch down your observations to reference and apply them to your work later. Do not rely solely on flat internet stock images or drawing books; you’re not getting the full 360 experience.

3. Improve and refine your skills. You can always build or refine your craft. You could go to art school, watch art-related Youtube videos, go to the library and check out awesome drawing books! Whatever your method of improving your skills may be, just remember that the ultimate way to improve your drawing skills is to observe and draw. Nothing more than that.

4. Experiment and try everything. In college, I had to a Life Drawing (anatomy) course that I did not want to take, but was required to. Although I did not necessary liked the idea of taking a class I was not interested in, I attended class with an opened mind. After the semester ended and I finished the course, I realized how much more I have learned about the human body that could be applied to the work I am currently working on. After after that course, my anatomy improved tremendously. It’s okay to try new things. I RECOMMEND you to try new things! Do things out of your comfort zone because after you’ve done so, you will appreciate the possibilities around you.

5. Don’t stick with your first idea. Usually when you are assigned a project or are about to start a project of your own, you start out ideating. This is probably the most important step to spend time on aside from the execution itself. Most beginning artists skip or do not spend enough time on this step. For example, a blueprint must be made before a building gets constructed. From there, we all know that our first few ideas are usually not the best because that’s when our brain starts warming up. I recommend you to do multiple (pages of) sketching and ideation. When your brain gets rolling, that’s when the great ideas start coming.

6. Surround yourself with artists who are as good, if not, better than you. There’s nothing better than having a team of art-lovers sharing work and talking about art. When you network with these individuals, observe their work and process. Being around peers who share a similar passion with you will motivate you in your own art-making. Plus, you could receive honest and constructive criticism to improve your work.

7. Don’t compare yourself to another artist. No matter how good their colors, anatomy, or proportions are, you can never be exactly like them. Don’t make art by copying the works of others; instead, study and analyze the mark-makings, process, and execution. When you get all caught up in making art that looks like someone else’s, then you are really not making art that stands for you.

8. You are the judge of your own work. At the end of a long critique, you may feel upset or overwhelmed by the numerous feedback you’ve received. It is best to filter them out! If someone’s suggestion just does not feel right (or the fact that you applied it to your work and it still does not feel right), ignore it and move on! Make work that stands for you.

9. Share your work! This is something that some artists forget to do, and it is SO CRUCIAL! Whether you share it with a local art community or through online art communities, the act of sharing art and getting responses is the whole purpose for making art (at least to most of us). So make work and get it out there!

10. Start NOW! What are you waiting for?

July 4th Weekend

My Kev Xav group and I had a wonderful time at Center for Hmong Arts and Talent’s (C.H.A.T.’s) 11th Annual Freedom Fest held within the 34th Annual Hmong Sports Festival on July 4th and 5th in St. Paul, Minnesota. There were wonderful artists and entertainers! Met some inspiring individuals and hope to attend it next year again.

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Pop-Up Comic

An experimental four-page comic in a pop-up book form. This was a two-week project done using bristol board, watercolor, and color pencils. The story follows Gabby and Earl and their adventures on the island. A more in-depth explanation of the world can be found here. This is currently being displayed at the University of Wisconsin-Stout from Saturday, May 10th to Tuesday, May 13th, 2014.

Pop Up Comic

World Building Project: Gabby and Earl

A two-page comic based on a world where there are two island experiments. One island have an experiment of 10 people that started 60 years ago and the other one is a more recent study full of 10 years old. The objective of these studies are to study human behavior without the influences of the outside world. The island provides all the food, shelter, and food the experiments would need. The purpose of this world building project is to allow room for a more elaborate plot. This short comic is a segment of the larger world and story. The following environment drawings  illustrates the world of the two research islands.

Gabby and Earl - Page 1

Gabby and Earl - Page 2


World Building Environments