We had the pleasure of interviewing Albert Nguyen! You can catch him at WonderCon this weekend in Anaheim…Q. When did you first realize your talent and that you could sell your art?
I remember trying to sell drawings for $1 each around middle school. I always did drawings here and there for a little money, but started to take it more seriously when I was 18 or 19, making really bad comics and selling them at conventions around the Midwest. It was a different time back then! Conventions were often in malls or hotel ballrooms. Small, with a few comics dealers, one or two local pros, and a handful of local indie folks like me, selling hand stapled comics with variable levels of quality. The patrons were primarily bearded men with t-shirts tucked into their jeans.
Q. Which came first for you the geeky stuff or the art? And when did you combine the two?
I’ve loved comics since I can remember, and have always been drawing superheroes and fantasy and sci-fi. Pretty much as soon as my little kid eyes saw geeky stuff I was trying to draw it. I distinctly remember being blown away by Jim Lee’s X-Men and Rob Liefeld’s X-Force when I was in 5th grade and trying to draw with lots of lines and details like my art heroes.
Q. You do geeky themes for your art but also Dog Postcards… what other non-geeky art can we expect from you?
You never know! I love portraiture and figure drawing so I might get back to that one day. Every now and then I get an itch to do a project that isn’t related to anything else I do, which is how the dog postcards happened.
Q. Some of your art combines historical photos and geeky characters do you have more art like that in the works?
Combining historical images with comics and Star Wars was how I started my current batch of work, but I’ve hit a wall with it. I’ve run out of famous images that 1) most everyone will recognize 2) hasn’t been done a million times before, and 3) works for me! Once that wound down, I did a few illustrations in the style of medieval illuminations and that’s now mutating into making cinematic style posters.
Q. What is the strangest commission request you’ve had? and did you do it?
Thankfully it usually doesn’t get too crazy, but some of the more notable ones were a human version of a My Little Pony character that was somehow used to ask someone out, and a mermaids with loooooots of notes as to what the mermaid should look like and why.
Q. You work in all mediums, from watercolor, oil, to markers… which is your preferred method?
I prefer ink and markers right now. It’s fast and impactful and I feel like I’m in a good place with it. Using watercolor is like a panic attack from start to finish. I have so much to learn with oil paint but maybe when I’m retired I’ll get to pick it up again!
Q. What’s one tip you would give young artists?
Don’t rest in your comfort zone for too long. Always push to learn more about everything you can. Anatomy, perspective, different art mediums, etc. Push push push.
Q. This year you have 11 cons lined up so far, what do you love and hate about cons?
I’m always really excited before a convention. I really like the energy of cons, talking to other fans about nerdy things, and drawing for people. During a con though, I’m exhausted, trying not to catch a cold, and missing my daughter. Eating on the road is also pretty rough. Not a lot of vegetables happen.
Q. As a Star Wars fan, what were your thoughts on The Last Jedi?
I liked it a lot! It made me like The Force Awakens more too. It’s not perfect- there’s plenty of things that could’ve been done better, but I liked how it progressed Kylo, Rey, and I appreciate grumpy old Luke’s end. Yoda was really funny. Admiral Holdo’s sacrificial lightspeed jump was beautiful. I’m a little confused why it was so divisive. It’s a great time to be a Star Wars fan. We are spoiled for choice of content to consume. We get a new movie every single year, TV shows, video games, LEGO, etc etc. I love it.
Q. Where can our readers find you next?
My convention schedule is posted on my website, knewwhen.com. I’ll be at WonderCon at the end of March and then Silicon Valley Comic Con in early April. I hope to see some readers there!