The First King (2021)
'The First King' is my first published illustrated children’s book made-out of hand papercut art. Inspired by ‘Con Rong Chau Tien’ story -one of the most famous fairy tales and folktales in Vietnam about its magical origin. As an educator and artist embracing cultural diversity, this project holds a special place in my heart because I get to share and pass on my heritage pride to other multi-racial children out there. Just like most fairytales and folklore, ‘The First King’ has hero’s, deities, romance and teaches us valuable lessons about great powers along with great responsibilities and scarification for the greater good. The story also echoes the educational value of compassion within the community and highlights a very important chapter of Vietnam history, as well as the one of a kind miracle birth of 100 children.
My original approach for this project was just using Adobe Illustrator on a drawing tablet but quickly realized this medium did not capture the mystical and playful look that I wanted to create. So, after browsing through my old pictures of my trip to my hometown in Vietnam for inspiration, I decided to incorporate my childhood’s favorite art mediums: watercolor and markers on recycled craft paper to portray the greenery landscape and historical symbol. The richness of texture and brush strokes not only created a dimensional effect for the characters but also created a new modernized illustration style blended with the conventional poem written by Los Angeles film director -Damien Saint Jackson.