In conversation with culture-illuminating illustrator, Linh Nguyen-Glen
Linh Nguyen-Glen, a full-time illustrator, mixes her love of art with her desire to make a positive impact on the world through her illustrations of both traditional folktales and contemporary stories. Drawing inspiration from a rich tapestry of global cultures, she skilfully crafts illustrations that not only captivate and enrich viewers but also resonate with real-world significance.
Why did you decide to take up illustration?
Well, I love stories, and I love art, so the idea of illustrating stories just kind of came naturally from there. I’m a visual person, so I enjoy the process of bringing ideas and concepts to life.
There’s something almost spiritual about taking contextual research and then turning that into a living, breathing illustration. Whether it’s a packaging design, book cover, or editorial, it’s the same. And if my work resonates with people, then even better.
I decided to take up illustration as my creative trade because it allows me to combine my love for art with my desire to tell beautiful stories.
How do you get past creative blocks?
I find that the less I focus, the more easily ideas come. So, I try to relax and let my mind wander. Creativity is fueled by life experiences, so if I put myself in a situation where I can experience life, then ideas will turn up eventually. It doesn’t have to be anything big. Sometimes I’ll just stare out my studio window, and other times I might go for a walk. Anything that allows me to observe life happening around me.
It also helps when I’m being extra critical of myself and I need to get outside my head for a while – something I think a lot of creatives deal with.
Other than that, collaborating with other creatives also works. Brainstorming and bouncing ideas off one another help provide a different perspective on things. And being part of a community with constructive feedback and open discussions can really help with growth.
What is your creative process?
After I get a brief from a client, or come up with a new idea myself, I’ll usually explore first. I’ll get myself excited about the topic and let my imagination run wild. I’ll then start gathering as many references and sources as possible. Pictures, scripts, quotes, stories, memes – anything that helps convey the themes and story of the brief.
I’ll take all of these visual and thematic references, and throw them into a creative board filled with notes and visual inspirations. I love this stage the most.
Finally, with a solid foundation in place, I move onto the composition sketch stage. I’ll experiment with different approaches until I find the best solution for the artwork. Once that’s established, I’ll start with character design, color blocking, linear work, and filling in details.
Where do you look for inspiration?
I have a passion for cultural storytelling, so I love looking at folk art, songs, tales, myths, and legends. I’ll also look at modern events and stories for similar themes if needed. It’s great to dive into a new cultural world and explore the way diverse people see the world. Their symbolism, history, values. I love it all!
A big thank you to Linh Nguyen-Glen for contributing to our series of creative conversations with industry experts.