Name / Artist Name: Ngianhormua Yang
What do you consider yourself? Artist, illustrator, painter, designer, other?
Educator, Illustrator, Concept Designer, and Artist. Why can’t we be more than one? lol
What are you working on currently? Or what kinds of projects have you done in the past?
Currently, I am working on a Youtube video series with my non-profit organization. I am also writing an educational text book on perspective drawing while freelancing as a concept artist for independent video game companies.
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 really got into art because of one of my older sisters. She loved drawing and I would always bug her to draw Batman and other comic characters for me. Then I decided to start drawing them myself. Originally, drawing was only a passion and hobby with no real thoughts on making it a career and job. There was a time that I actually fell out of love, multiple times actually, but then rediscovered my love for the arts when I was recommended for an after school drawing program by another sister of mine. It was there that I discovered art was a viable career option, contrary to popular belief, and a rediscovery of my love for the arts. If it wasn’t for that program, I may have ended up going to an engineering field of sorts or medical field.
The biggest thing that made me want to pursue this path was the feeling of sharing the worlds, stories, and visuals I had in my head with everyone else. Just the thought of being able to stimulate other people’s minds, imagination, thoughts, emotions, and empirical ideologies through the use of imagery was, and is, something so powerful and profound. Like food, the visual arts is one of the languages of the world that is so common but so underestimated. The profundity of art and its ability to speak and communicate with people of differentiating backgrounds and languages is a skill that reaches beyond common understanding.
Just as many other artists out there, I have faced the struggles of finding my own unique visual voice, message, and story that I want to convey my thoughts through. Beyond that, there are the challenges and stigmas of the starving artist, proper compensation for what we do, the misconceptions of the time it takes to create something, and the challenges of family opinions and judgement that so many of us continue to fight against.
Even now, when people hear that I am an artist, especially in the Hmong community, it is either received extremely lackluster or it becomes more of a “oh, cool, my kid loves to draw too.” But when they only hear/know that I am a college educator, the reactions are completely different and filled with more admiration and respect towards me. This stigmatic judgement of a career being held in higher regard over another is something that is continual and will never be able to fully escape from but that is where I don’t mind educating those of the plethora of artistic careers that are sustainable and viable.
Did you attend 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 attend college or attended but did not majored in anything art-related, what helped push you to pursue art or improve your craft?
I attended the College for Creative Studies earning a BFA in Illustration with a minor in Animation. In 2019, I earned my MFA in Illustration from the Savannah College of Art and Design.
Art school is not for everyone and isn’t necessarily needed to become a better artist. It does make it easier being guided by those more experienced than you, teaching you the do’s and don’ts of art but one of the best experiences about art school is the network and connection you make with like minded individuals. In the current day and age, it’s far easier to do so than when I was starting college but regardless, there is nothing like being locked in a room full of 20 other individuals just working away at a drawing and being inspired by those around you.
For me, art school really helped me grow by leaps and bounds. But that is for me. I know many others who tried art school and it didn’t help, which is okay too. Every individual learns differently and a traditional formal education isn’t necessarily right for everyone. The key thing regardless is self-motivation, study, drive, and keeping your mental, spiritual and physical health in mind.
How do you balance art with work and life? How do you make time for art?
This is something I am still trying to figure out. lol. I always like to keep in mind this quote from one of my favorite films:
“Life is like a box of chocolate, you never know what you’re going to get.”
~ Forest Gump~
On Top of that quote, I also keep in mind that you just follow a guideline but don’t be scared of the deviations. They keep things interesting.
What are ways you find work or generate income as an artist?
Most of my work comes from my networks, recommendations, and cold calls. As an artist, you can’t be scared to verbally communicate with others. I always joke with my students that you have to be an extroverted introvert when you want to work professionally as an artist. Extroverted in your fearlessness of approaching and speaking to strangers but introverted in being okay in isolation and solitude when working on projects that are solo; which makes up a majority of the work if you are a freelance illustrator.
Where do you get your ideas from?
I get my ideas from all different aspects of living, examining, and critically analyzing my surroundings. In order to truly be an effective visual communicator, you have to live life, examine life, see life, analyze life, and understand life to a certain degree. The other part is, I get ideas from my clients since they are who I’m usually designing for.
What kinds of tools do you use to make your work or what is your typical artistic process like?
For personal and gallery oriented work, the sky and imagination is the limit, besides cost, but my go to materials are graphite, colored pencil, black sumi ink, acrylic paint, and metallic spray paints. My usual chosen substrates are watercolor paper, bristol paper, and mixed media paper.
For my commercial work, I work digital with Photoshop, Blender, and SketchUp depending on what’s needed to be done.
Are there any artists you look up to or find inspiring?
There are so many but my biggest influences at the moment are James Jean, Norman Rockwell, Tomer Hanuka, Inoue Takehiko, Robh Ruppel, Syd Meade, Junji Ito, Kim Jung Gi, Ruan Jia, and basically anyone who works at Riot Studios.
Do you have any favorite books, apps, movies, resources, or art tools that you recommend?
Books: Color and Light by James Gurney, How to Draw/Render by Scott Robertson, The Framed series of books by Marcos Mateu-Mestre, Graphic LA by Robh Ruppel, Visions: Composition for Animators by Hans P. Bacher, Figure Drawing by Michael Hamptom, Figure Drawing by Steve Huston
Apps: Photoshop, Clip Studio Paint, Procreate
Movies: Too many to list. hahaha
Art tools: 12 inch clear plastic T-Square, kneaded eraser, layout bond paper, Smudge Guard Glove, Sumi Ink, Acrylic Ink, A G-nib, fountain pens, GraphGear 1000 mechanical pencil
Is there anybody you would like to collaborate or work with? Could be a person, another artist, or company.
There are too many to list.
Is there any advice you would like to give to young artists or people just starting out?
Don’t forget the reasons you are choosing art but also keep in mind, it is a business and requires hustle.
What is your ultimate dream project or something you’ll like to accomplish in your lifetime (could be art or non-art related)?
Opening up my own art studio, publishing house, and educational institution.
What is the best way to get a hold of you or view or purchase your work?
You can find the list of everything at https://linktr.ee/ngianhormua
The link will always be updated with new shops and websites if ever added.