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Mentor of the Day: LeUyen Pham

If you haven’t seen the work of LeUyen Pham (pronounced LeWin, for those of you who were wondering) , you’ll be blown away when you do.  Check out her very entertaining website filled not just with amazing artwork, but some great Flash animation!   You can instantly tell, LeUyen is a very gifted artist and storyteller.

For anyone who’s ever wanted to get into children’s books either on the side or as a full-time career, you won’t find many people as accomplished as LeUyen. She has created over fifty books for children and has a variety of styles.  Her work ranges from phenomenal ink work to incredible watercolors, and from very graphic shapes to beautifully rendered scenes.  She makes switching styles look so effortless!

Before doing children’s books, LeUyen also had quite a career in feature animation.  In an article with The Noe Valley Voice, LeUyen shares her story:

The semester before she graduated Art Center College of Design in 1997, DreamWorks offered her a job in its layout department. “I was the only girl and the youngest in layout,” Pham says. “It was great to be with the best artists in the world–I learned so much there.”

But the world of animation began to change. LeUyen was working in a new department called 2-D/3-D, where she used her drawing skills as well as what she had learned at SGI to lay out animated movies. “In layout, you do the drawings, and you have to be an all-around wonderful draftsman,” LeUyen explains. “But those draftsmen were being replaced with 3-D modelers, who have a strong compositional eye but don’t have to draw well. I had gone into animation to draw, but I was hardly ever drawing.”

On the side, LeUyen had started to illustrate children’s books. “It’s a tough [industry] to get into,” LeUyen says. But she persisted and gained enough moonlighting work that allowed her to quit DreamWorks after three years.

LeUyen then took her savings and traveled around the world. Another talented DreamWorks artist and friend, a Frenchman named Alex Puvilland, heard she needed a place to stay in Paris and found her a cheap apartment. When he learned that LeUyen had broken up with her boyfriend, he showed up on her Parisian doorstep. The two were married in the fall of 2005 and now live San Francisco, California.

Needless to say, LeUyen’s had quite a career, one I’m sure a lot of us hope to have!  So if you’re trying to get into the children’s book industry now or sometime in the near future, consider applying to be LeUyen’s mentee!  She’s open to taking one lucky person from anywhere on this planet and sharing her knowledge about getting into this difficult industry as well as helping you create portfolio pieces to submit to publishers.  You can’t beat that!

Some of LeUyen’s books include:

• Freckleface Strawberry Series, written by actress Julianne Moore
• God’s Dream
by Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Grace for President by Kelly DiPuccio
• The Alvin Ho series written by Lenore Look
Big Sister, Little Sister written and illustrated by LeUyen Pham
All the Things I Love About You  written and illustrated by LeUyen Pham

A complete list can be found on her website.

And also check out LeUyen and Alex’s contributions to the SketchTravel project!

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