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Meet Lucia Nguyen of Rainwa.Art

Today we’d like to introduce you to Lucia Nguyen.

Lucia, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
All my life, I’ve been making personal connections through my artwork. When I wanted to gain the attention of my teachers, I would draw angels in my free class time and show them once I was done. If I wanted my parents to be proud of me, I would draw their characters next to our (disproportionately small) house, and the artwork would be complete with a tree and a smiling sun in the corner.

I did this for everyone because I was often a misunderstood and angry child. I couldn’t play too much with my classmates otherwise I’d trigger a severe asthma attack and couldn’t breathe. All I knew was that I’d be dribbling a soccer ball for a couple of minutes, and then be on my way to the nurse’s office to use my inhaler. From then on, I resigned myself to be goalie so no team would ever be down a midfielder.

Since I was a fast runner and a competitive person, my secret childhood dream was to become an athlete. However, I spent most of my days indoors drawing because I couldn’t inhale the street dirt if I played outside and fell. I was also severely allergic to grass and dust so I gave up that dream pretty early on.

I just grew to love indoor activities. I drew and drew and when I didn’t know what to draw anymore, I read books from front-to-back and played video games until curfew. When I stopped trying to fight my limitations and focused on being an attentive observer, I stopped feeling like a burdensome, ill child and more like a confident and capable person even in their lonesome. I focused on processing my turbulent emotions and expressing them in artwork. Then my new childhood dream was to become an artist.

Since I grew out of my shell, I gained leadership skills and a strong conviction to continually improve myself. I managed to make a great friend through our shared interest in art and we’ve stuck together throughout middle school, high school, university, and even work. Because of them, I’m a freelance illustrator and I teach art to K–8 students. My work life is a great balance of fun and fulfilling.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
I was sixteen, a Junior in high school, and I noticed that I kept falling dead asleep in my 3rd, 5th, and 6th period classes (4th period was art). Despite the fact that I was consistently eating breakfast, sleeping early, and getting my 8–9 hours of ZZZ’s every night, something was wrong with me.

I’ve come to accept that the events that year and the few following ones had compromised my mental well-being. I was exhausted because my household was shaken with tension. Occasionally there was one-sided yelling, then two-sided screaming, accompanied by a few frustrated voices trying to calm the storm. My mother and father couldn’t stand each other anymore. My four elder sisters tried to diffuse their anger.

Being strict Vietnamese Catholics, my parents never considered divorce an option. My mother could no longer tolerate my father exhausting the family’s savings, throwing grandiose parties we’d have to host and clean up, and the worst of it, secretly having not one, but several mistresses over the course of their marriage. Instead of choosing to stay and clean up his life, my father packed up and left. I was then a high school senior, my life still ahead of me, and I knew my family didn’t have the resources to help me study far.

Now in my twenties, my family and father have lived apart for years but we’ve rekindled our relationship. It’s separate, distant, and often still unpleasant because he hasn’t changed much of his ways. I can’t forgive him for hurting my mother but both she and I acknowledge that our lives keep inevitably intertwining with his. I want to say that this is my story retold and its resolution will never mean to advocate for emotionally-compromising relationships. It’s a difficult space to navigate to this day.

But I definitely grow stronger with time. I had the most unforgettable journey at community college where my classmates, professors, and advisors recognized my intellect and artistic skill. They supported and celebrated me when I was accepted to every university I applied to.

I transferred, plowed through, then graduated summa cum laude at Cal State University Long Beach with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Illustration. I’ve been fortunate to have my mother, my sisters, and my brother-in-laws support me through my college career as well. They allowed me to chase my art education, my passions, and new lifestyle. The energy I once exhausted trying to understand my reality is now channeled into my art process. Having lived through many complicated experiences in my life so far, I carefully focus on the present moment in the form of marks, color, and composition.

Please tell us more about your art.
I connect, draw, paint, illustrate. The first part of the process is to get to know my client well.

I’m open to create a dialogue so that I can accurately bridge the ideas between me and my customer. Getting to know what they want to say and how we should convey it is crucial to my process. What direction should we take? What should we avoid? Should I tweak this and that? And it’ll come together as a jointly-constructed narrative illustration by the end.

My name “rainwa.art” is “raindrop waltz art” in short, combining my love for life, music, dance performance, and the arts. I recommend visiting my Instagram (@rainwa.art) to see the “behind-the-scenes” process videos of my pieces. I wholeheartedly enjoy sharing my skills and techniques with others in hopes that more people gain a deeper appreciation for the arts. I am proud to value transparency and engagement as much as my audience. What sets me apart is that I aim to go beyond an Internet persona. As a humanitarian, I’m always trying to connect with others on a deeper level. The most rewarding aspect of it all is seeing how my experiences enrich my artwork.

My inbox is always open for conversation. My Instagram is rainwa.art and you can also reach me via my work email rainwa.art on Gmail.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
It’s a time of uncertainty but I believe this gives me all the more reason to come out of it a healthy and stronger person.

Besides cleaning up my messy work studio, I’m developing several portfolios; some creature and environment/prop design. I’ve been working in storytelling mostly and I feel the need to let the technical side of me shine. Regardless, I’m open and searching for opportunities.

Depending on the response, I’ve also been considering leading a virtually-based art house/studio where artists with diverse backgrounds collaborate on narrative-based projects. Stay tuned!

I also have a tendency to spread myself thin working on sideline personal projects, so I’ll call it now that I’ll be planning new potential art lessons for my students and drawing epic characters and backgrounds for local D&D fanatics.

Contact Info:


Image Credit:

Killed with Kindness, Lucia Nguyen

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