His real name is Le Thanh Tung, but he’s usually known as Crazy Monkey or Tung Monkey. He’s just turned to 24 years old but his remarkable achievements in national and even international art contests have earned him many rewards. Nowadays he is popular among the visual artists in the Vietnam. His answers during the interview reveal a vast intelligence, making this a fascinating talk.
HCMC Life: When did your passion for graphic design start?
Crazy Monkey: I have been addicted to drawing on Windows Paint since I was 14 or 15 years old, when I drew funny manga or cartoon characters like Doraemon, Mickey or Popeye.
HCMC Life: Do the prizes from the art competitions pressure you to work harder?
Crazy Monkey: The prizes don’t really cause pressure. They’re the standard on which I base my work and my projects. The important thing here is the period of time you keep up with that standard. If you are broken by the pressure, you’re restricting yourself with immaterial concerns.
HCMC Life: What are your strong points, if you compare yourself to your colleagues?
Crazy Monkey: Well, perhaps I am more innocent than them. I like the state of being innocent, greeting everything with pure surprise. This state allows you to imagine your head off.
Crazy Monkey: The weekdays are not so special. I’m busy dealing with the briefs and projects from my customers. Weekends are more interesting because I have time to go out with my friends or make art I like. Sometimes I join the VJing (live video interaction) events in bars and lounges in the city. My daily routines aren’t varied, but they’re smooth.
HCMC Life: The contemporary arts seem to abuse multimedia effects. What needs more effort or talent, graphic design or the drawing by hand?
Crazy Monkey: As far as I know, art was integrated with multimedia tool long ago. Andy Warhol made his first movies when he made the laminated paintings “The Twenty-Five Coloured Marilyns,” and dipped into the iceberg of traditional art. The combination of multimedia tools and traditional ways is encouraging to young graphic visual arts designers.
I’ve never compared hand-drawn and graphic paintings because once the artworks are hung on the wall, they transfer the same amount of artistic value. There only real difference is that manual drawings are supposed to be unique because the artist can’t make a perfect copy. Graphic designers work on computers, so their creations lack exclusivity.
Crazy Monkey: Good question. I have never been asked so. Well, I don’t believe in the absolute freedom of design. Designing is much different from creating. A designer is a blend of a painter and a draftsman. The finish must be not only artistic but also useful, which the designer can’t determine himself because it depends on the needs of the customers. Therefore, absolute freedom in graphic design is unrealistic.
HCMC Life: What inspires you to design?
Crazy Monkey: A good song, especially in the chillwave or soul genres. Some of my favourite artists are Toro Y Moi, ISO 50and Tokimosta. A good movie helps, too. Whenever I need to clear my mind to get space for new ideas, I often meet up with my friends for some chit-chat and drinks.
HCMC Life: What are your future plans?
Crazy Monkey: I am taking part in a project in cooperation with Piaggio Vietnam. This is a fun and interesting project that will launch at the end of this month. For my long term plans, I am preparing for a short visual arts course in U.S next year. I hope that everything will be alright.
HCMC Life: Thanks for sharing.
Some of Le Thanh’s prizes:
- Third prize in the Advertising Design Contest for Vietnam tourism held by CMA, Singapore.
- First prize at the Graphic Exhibition “Just Do it 2” hold by FPT Arena in 2008.
- Top 5 of IAS – Hall of Fame Award Singapore, the honorable annual prize for young Asian designers. His artwork was used for advertising broadcasts in Singapore.
- First prize in the Film category in the Vietnam Young Lions contest in 2009, representative of Vietnam to take part in the international Young Lions taken place in Cannes, France in June, 2010.
Interview by: Pham Chieu. Photo source: Crazy Monkey.