We’re back with the next installment of our staff spotlight series! The next interview is with Nhu Nguyen, Associate Vice President, Creative Director based in Washington, DC.
Christian Hendricks: How did you get into art and design?
Nhu Nguyen: As someone who immigrated to the U.S. as a child from Vietnam, I had a difficult time finding my “place” in society, especially being at the intersection of so many different subcultures and communities. As a neurodivergent AAPI woman with cleft lip and palate and disabilities, I often isolated myself and never spoke up.
I turned to art as a vehicle to express myself and help let my voice be heard. At a young age, I challenged myself to interact and play with as many different artistic mediums as possible until I felt like I mastered them enough to be able to effectively tell my story. What started as drawing and painting on paper turned into digital mediums like photography and graphic design — performing and singing on stage turned into public speaking and conducting workshops. I have art to thank for helping me find my purpose (I even have a tattoo that says “Art is the answer.”)!
CH: What is the most rewarding part of your job/career?
NN: The most rewarding part about what I do is being able to uplift and amplify the voices of others in a way that I wish someone would have done for me as a child. Having been in a position where I wanted to be heard, I use those lived experiences to guide me in what I do today in helping others share their stories in a powerful way, driving them towards the positive change and results that they need. At Fenton, it’s amazing being able to work with colleagues and clients who share the same passion and commitment in advocating for others.
CH: Tell us about a project that turned out particularly well.
NN: Before Fenton, I had the amazing opportunity to lead a large team in the new endeavor of creating a mini-YouTube series, featuring celebrities like Anthony Anderson and Julie Bowen, in an effort to bring awareness to a new medical treatment that may help those with a specific type of lung cancer. It was the first time the client and the company I worked at had ever done anything like this, so there was a big learning curve. But at the end of it all, all the hard work paid off and the results exceeded everyone’s expectations!
CH: What social causes do you care about deeply?
NN: I am passionate about so many causes but the top of the list for me are equitable mental health awareness and access, eliminating pay/wage disparities and inequality, reproductive rights, and racial injustice. A lot of my passions derive from my own personal experiences, and I want to be able to stand with others as we navigate through these issues together.
CH: What do you like to do outside of work?
NN: Outside of work, I own and operate a creative studio on the side where I run an Etsy shop of designed printed goods, help smaller local organizations with creative strategy and services (including design, illustration, and photography), provide mentorship and coaching, and host workshops and webinars.
Aside from that, I love snuggling with my corgi, Boba, trying out new restaurants and cocktails, karaoke and game nights with family and friends, and planning events and parties — the biggest upcoming one being my wedding later this year!
CH: What inspired you to start photography?
NN: I was obsessed with being able to capture “hidden” beauty in ways that others couldn’t see, so when my uncle gave me his old camera at the ripe age of 10, I started looking at the relationship between light and shadows and how they shaped the environment around them. I started off with inanimate objects but then slowly transitioned to experimenting with portraiture. Eventually, my experimental portraits led me down an exciting path of becoming a beauty and fashion photographer for a handful of years where I got to work with fashion magazines, modeling agencies, and world-class creative teams. However, pretty quickly I realized that I wanted to do something that wasn’t just photography and help others in a more powerful way, so I stepped away from the fashion industry to pursue an education in visual communication design which has led me to where I am today!
CH: What’s your proudest achievement?
NN: I would say it would be having some of my progressive illustration work retweeted and reposted by big celebrities like Simu Liu, Jennifer Aniston, and Alyssa Milano! A lot of my personal illustration work I create mainly serves the purpose of advocating for progressive causes or bringing awareness and education to cultural milestones. It’s been really cool to see such big names organically engage in something that I consider to be a personal passion project.
CH: What advice would you give to others hoping to pursue a career in creative/multimedia work?
NN: Never stop learning and always ask why. So many times, clients may think they know what they want. But as a creative, it is our job to not only make things look nice but also to make sure they are as engaging and captivating as they can be. This often means going the extra mile to truly understand a client’s needs and pushing the envelope to see if there are other creative alternatives that can help achieve their goals more effectively.
Thank you, Nhu!