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Conversations with Sang Lam

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sang Lam.

Hi Sang, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstory with our readers?
I grew up in Vietnam and attended college in the US. After graduating Ringling College of Art and Design, I became a background artist in animation for Netflix, Psyop, Rooster Teeth, and Bubba’s LA. As much as I love working with a studio, I find more joy in working on my own thing. So while I was in between studio projects, I created my own online shop and started exhibiting at convention’s artist alleys with the help of my partner.

I started with small local conventions and slowly got accepted into some very awesome conventions including Anime Expo, Fanime, Lightbox Expo, C2E2, Anime Central, Dragon Con, etc. The process of figuring out how to best display my work on a 6ft table was a lot of fun and it’s constantly evolving. I was able to travel throughout the country and gradually found myself in a convention artist group, where everyone was extremely helpful to one another. We would share hotels or Air BnBs when we exhibit at the same conventions and stay up late every night just hanging out.

I love the convention scene because it felt very welcoming to everyone. It’s not as gatekeeping as some other art industries. It can also be much more rewarding.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
I was lucky to have my partner, Dustin Panzino, who has been quite successful with online sales and at conventions. He helped me start my own shop and we would travel to conventions together. As we continued doing conventions, our friend group grew and everyone helps out one another.

But I do have personal struggles that I have to work through myself. The stress of wanting to make the painting look perfect often stops me from working on it at all. I would have a hard time finishing new work because of that. Setting deadlines was helpful for me personally but it is still something I’m working on.

I feel like as an independent artist, keeping up with social media is part of the job now. And I have a hard time with that since I am quite an introvert. It is also another thing I’m slowly working on.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I’m an independent artist and I create paintings and merch that I would buy myself. Simple, small, and cute things bring me joy and that’s how I would describe most of the items in my shop. My origami enamel pins are what I’m known for. Their clean geometric shape language also continues throughout my work. I also paint a lot of cozy sunsets and landscapes as I travel through the US. Some of the illustrations I’m most proud of include paintings of Vietnam. Because it’s a beautiful place and I feel like it does not get as much attention as it deserves. A part of my work is fan art of shows and games since I exhibit at conventions and it’s a great way to connect with the attendees.

Where we are in life is often partly because of others. Who/what else deserves credit for how your story turned out?
My partner, Dustin Panzino, has been a big help in my journey as I find myself as an illustrator. He’s exceptionally talented and insightful. Although our art styles differ, we’ve learned much from each other. He teaches me how to render and I show him how important design is. Traveling and exhibiting at conventions is a constant troubleshooting process and it’s way more enjoyable when you have someone by your side figuring it out with you.

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