Artist Name: Hue Vang
What do you consider yourself? Artist, illustrator, painter, designer, other?
At heart, I am an illustrator but professionally I am a painter/designer/compositor.
What kinds of projects you have done in the past?
I’ve written and directed plays as well as animated shorts/motion videos based on Hmong mythology during my time at UW Oshkosh for the annual Hmong Student Union Educational Conferences. While working on my MFA at UW Stout, I worked on narrative games as a modeler, concept artist and game designer. On my free time, I worked on animatics retelling various Greek Mythologies or digital painting commissions.
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?
I’ve always had a strong interest in drawing. Growing up as kid, I was really shy, so drawing was the only way to express myself. My drawings made people happy and in return, that made me happy to see their excitement. Among the greatest challenges were balancing artistic improvement while working on a science degree as an undergrad. My parents didn’t approve of art as a career and they’d rather I pursue the medical field. At the time, it was very difficult, but in hindsight, it made me work even harder to become a professional artist. Plus, the people I met at Oshkosh really helped me grow.
It became a goal of mine to prove to my parents that a career in Art and Design can be as financially rewarding, successful and professional as doctors, lawyers and scientists, especially for the first and second generation Hmong people living here in America.
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?
After my Biology degree, I attended UW Stout and received my MFA in Design. The program helped me become more disciplined as an artist. Projects that I worked on during my free time had no deadlines, so I had all the time I needed to perfect them. But in the real world, time is more valuable than perfection (unless you have a billion dollars laying around right?). Also, Stout has a lot of networks with professional artists and designers in the industry to connect with. Quality work and connections matter! (It helped launch my career at DreamWorks Animation).
How do you balance art with work and life? How do you make time for art?
You’d have to enjoy the grind of any craft to become better at it, whether it be sports, singing, cooking, etc. So, making ample time for it is important.
These days, I relax more during my freetime so I won’t burnout at work. Before that, I’d paint in Photoshop for at least 2-4 hours. On the weekends, I make it my full-time job, 8-12 hours a day. Some days it’s very frustrating because it seems like I’m getting nowhere, but when a project is finally finished, it’s very fulfilling. I spent a year doing this after I graduated until DreamWorks Animation reached out to me.
Do you think making money from your art is important to you? Do you make money from your art? If so, how?
Yes, it is important to be financially stable doing your job. Art school, and art supplies (esp. hardware & software for digital artists) are very expensive. Depending on your artistic interest, you can’t improve without some of these tools.
Aside from my job as a matte painter, I make Youtube videos and take commission on the side as well. Most importantly, focusing on quality work will lead you down a financially successful path. The money will be there, but will you?
Where do you get your ideas from?
I get my ideas mainly from random thought of life or from random music on the Internet.
What kinds of tools do you use to make your work or what is your typical artistic process like?
I mainly work digitally in Photoshop, using a small Cintiq. My process begins with creating a reference board of ideas, colors and poses (if drawing characters). Using a 3D software, such as Maya or zbrush for perspective and dynamic posing/lighting is often used. A rough layout is blocked, then final layout, then color, then final color, and then details such as rim light and shadows, blacks and whites are added to push contrast. But, my process changes a lot as I’m still learning new tools.
Are there any artists you look up to or find inspiring?
Jim Lee, Hayao Miyazaki, Glen Keane are up there.
Do you have any favorite books, apps, movies, resources, or art tools that you recommend?
The works of Mokoto Shinkai (Your Name, 5 Centimeters per Second, Garden of Words) is a must see!
Art tools I recommend: A drawing tablet for digital illustration/painting. If you’re able to afford one, a Cintiq. Also, Photoshop, Maya/3DMax, zBrush, Substance Painter, Houdini, Nuke, Unity & Unreal Engine…learn them if you can!! If you’re more tech savvy, learn how to program shaders, animation, vfx. You’re almost guaranteed a job in the animation/games industry with a programming background.
And most importantly, be patient and don’t give up.
Is there any advice you would like to give to young artists or people just starting out?
I’m still a young artist myself so the advice I’d give is very commonly used: never give up on your goals. Easy to say, but hard to do because of how unpredictable life is. But your goals are out there waiting for you. Bring them an umbrella when you meet them, please don’t leave them out in the rain. Take care of your goals, and your goals will take care of you.
Is there anybody you would like to collaborate with or work for? Could be a person, another artist, or company.
I’d love to work with Jim Lee, Hayao Miyazaki, Glen Keane or Mokoto Shinkai one day.
What is your ultimate dream project or something you’d like to accomplish in your lifetime (could be art or non-art related)?
I’d love to visit/camp at the Hang Son Doong cave in Vietnam.
Are there any current projects that you’re working on or in the near future that you want to tell us about?
I’m one of the many people working on The Croods 2, so be on the lookout for it.
I’m also (slowly) working on a visual storytelling of the greek myth of Theseus: The Tragedy of Theseus for my Youtube channel.
And also working on a painting of a Dante and Bayonetta commission. Speed paint video of the process coming soon!
What is the best way to get a hold of you or view or purchase your work?
I haven’t been too active on social media, but you can view my Artstation at: https://www.artstation.com/huevang
Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/schenman/featured