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Shop of the Month – Tu Ha An

Shop of the Month – Tu Ha An

Illustrator, video artist, designer and engineer. An creates images that revolve around here home country, Vietnam. Check out the beautiful world of Tu Ha An!

An (pronounced like “Anne”) helps us discover Vietnam from a different angle, full of freshness and colours. At the tender age of 25 years and having lived in France for about eight years now, we’ve asked her where her inspiration comes from.

How did you become a designer?

I started drawing very early, soiling all the walls of my parents’ house, their furniture and their work folders. I never stopped drawing…I think that’s how I became a designer. I have never studied art or design, so I learned everything by practicing and having fun, but I’ve also learned from failing.

What equipment do you use to create your Spreadshop designs?

All the designs in my Shop are handmade. I use ink and watercolour for most drawings. Then I scan them and try to do as little retouching as possible. The designs that are currently in my Shop mainly stem from my work in Inktober 2018 (Inktober is a global challenge to create one ink illustration per day throughout the month of October).

In your Shop, the names of your designs are in both Vietnamese and French. Do you have Vietnamese people in mind when creating your designs?

In fact, I chose to give a Vietnamese and a French name to each design to make my Shop unique. I find it funny and intriguing to see Vietnamese titles with lots of accents on the words. These designs are really for lovers of this particular style. Certainly, all the designs of the Shop have a link to Vietnam, but it remains quite subtle.

Instagram, Facebook, YouTube – how do you use these different social networks to promote your Shop’s designs?

My Shop is quite young, so I am still in the testing phase, utilizing different ways to promote the Shop and designs. Usually, I post photos on Facebook or Instagram to announce Shop information like new designs and promotions. I also use Instagram stories to announce promo codes. Over the next few months, I plan to make a short video clip for YouTube to introduce the Shop, show the products and discuss customer feedback.

On which network are you most active, and why is this the case?

I’d say Instagram. It’s a network that relies on visual communication, and it’s great for designers!

You use more English on Instagram and both French and Vietnamese on Facebook. Does your target audience change with the social network?

Yes, absolutely. Even if I try to connect all these communication channels, I use each social network for a different purpose:

  • Instagram to share drawings or DIYs. It’s a bit like a gallery where we present our work. You can reach users anywhere in the world and it focuses on the visuals. So, I keep my descriptions short and often use English to express myself.
  • I use Facebook to communicate with friends and members of my community who are French and Vietnamese.
  • YouTube is great to convey the messages I really care about – it’s a fun playground for communication.

Your designs are inspired by the manga style, right? Are you a manga lover?

Absolutely! I’ve been a big fan of manga and anime ever since I can remember. My designs are definitely influenced by manga. And my favourite manga is Death Note by Takeshi Obata and Tsugumi Ohba. Their basic ideas are just brilliant and unique with very well-depicted psychological details. Manga offers us interesting points of view on very original subjects.

What are your plans for 2019?

The first video clip about my Spreadshirt store will soon be released on my YouTube channel. I will probably make another video clip to tell some of the anecdotes behind each design in the “Inktober 2018” collection. New designs from my Inktober 2018 drawings will be available for sale in the Shop. And, of course, a new collection of “Vietnam-related designs” will follow as it remains a common theme of my creations.

Why did you choose Spreadshop over other shop systems?

I became a Spreadshirt customer when I created personalised clothing as gifts for friends and family. I have never been disappointed by the quality of the products (mainly clothes). I also had very good experiences with Spreadshirt’s customer service. That’s what made me open my Shop with Spreadshirt. What’s more, the site’s interface is really intuitive and user-friendly. What more could you ask for? 😉

What advice would you give to someone who wants to open a Spreadshop?

I am still a beginner in this field and continue to learn every day, but I think it is important to pay attention to the quality of the designs. That’s essential as it’s the heart of your Shop! Promote your Shop by word of mouth…it’s really important. Tell everyone you meet! Often, your first customers will be your family or friends, so listen carefully when they offer feedback and suggestions.

Apart from that, I think you also have to be careful about the timing of Shop promotions. Take advantage of gift occasions like Christmas or Valentine’s Day to offer new designs and products.

Expert question: How does Ly Thong end up in your designs?

I love this question! Ly Thong is the villain from “Thach Sanh”, a popular tale in Vietnam. Ly Thong is the adopted brother of Thach Sanh, the hero of the story. For several years, Ly Thong took advantage of his brother; he even betrayed him by trying to kill him and then steal his lover. When all his plots are revealed, Ly Thong tries to escape into the night. Lightning strikes him halfway and he turns into a dung beetle. Sooner or later our actions catch up with us!

Thank you An for this wonderful interview. We look forward to seeing your new creations! Bon voyage!

Find it on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.

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