Success Through the Lens of Art

July 16, 2019

“When you try your best, live happily, and treat other people well, success will definitely come to you.” 

This is how Nhung Lê, a Hanoian-born illustrator now based in Brooklyn, New York, defines success. But what does success really mean? Is it feeling personally fulfilled? Having the dream relationship and family? Or is it something more tangible; influence, or status, or money? Maybe it’s something different altogether? 

What’s great is that there is no one definition of success. We all assign our own meaning to the word based on the accumulation of our life experiences. And understanding what success means to others will help us define what it means to us. 

To initiate our “Success Through the Lens of Art” project, Dreamplex asked a collective of Vietnamese artists to illustrate what success means to them. Despite living across borders, they all took to paper, canvas, and the digital screen to create artwork that embodied their ideas about success.


Success Through the Lens of Art


The project was led by curator Kim Anh Đoàn of T-pot Journal and Away Studio. According to her, “Everyone’s definition of success is different. ‘Success’ to me is a strong balance between doing what you love and doing what is necessary, between time spent at work and time spent with the important people in your life… The feeling of being successful must bring joy and contentment. 

In order to be successful, I believe it’s essential to do what you love and to feel proud of your achievements. In this way, your positivity can influence the people around you. Being in the creative industry, I have had the opportunity to work with many different talented artists over the years. Their stories and passion always inspire me to continuously move forward and improve my work day by day.”


A Range of Viewpoints from an Eclectic Group of Artists


Five young Vietnamese artists were chosen by Kim Anh for this project, who are not only different in their artistic styles, but also came from diverse backgrounds. Each artist put their own interpretive twist to the word “success” and came up with beautiful pieces of art that are now proudly displayed within the walls our Dreamplex Trần Quang Khải location.


The artists are: 

  • Nhung Lê, Brooklyn, New York (US)
  • Hương Anh Trịnh, Hanoi (Vietnam)
  • Toma Nguyễn,  Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam)
  • Vũ Tuấn Anh, Hanoi (Vietnam)
  • Việt Huỳnh, San Francisco, California (US)


Nhung Lê – “Paint Your Own Opportunity.”

“For me, success comes from the inside, not the outside. Success is measured by how happy and grateful we are in our lives. Instead of looking up to other people, I believe it’s better if we take a deep look at ourselves to find success. When you try your best, live happily and treat other people well, success will definitely come to you.”

Her image is of a girl looking at herself in the mirror while another girl behind the mirror draws a twinkle star for her to hold. “What this means is you’re the person that creates your own chances,” says Nhung Lê. 

Illustrator Nhung Lê was born in Hanoi, but is now based in Brooklyn, New York. In 2015, she opened her own stationary brand, Chic + Nawdie where she sells prints of her own work. 

Hương Anh Trịnh – “One Step at a Time.”

To Hương Anh Trịnh success is managing to hold your head high, aimed at your destination, and knowing that obstacles could look scary at first but usually aren’t that bad. 

The challenge for the man in this artwork is not simply the length of the stairway to the goal far up, it’s more about resilience, being able to keep balance for the apple on his head. “For me, this symbolizes knowledge and consciousness throughout the whole journey. He’s determined to take step-by-step towards his goal, instead of rushing or surrendering to the struggles. He knows that no good result ever comes overnight, and struggle is the pre-condition for growth. This stairway journey prepares him to always be ready for the next step, encouraging him to constantly strive for a higher level of performance.” 

Hương Anh Trịnh is a Hanoi-based illustrator with a keen interest in creating art that brim with positive energy. A lot of her work is driven by her love for the natural world and she always aims towards explaining scientific information through highly visual concepts. 

Toma Nguyễn – “Build a Positive Self Image.”

Success to Toma is the process of creating the life you want to live, the destination where you feel happy and satisfied. Everyone will have their own goals, which makes the path to the success of each person different. For some it’s easy, for others, it’s not. Anyone who can overcome all obstacles and reach their goals, that is success.

Toma’s painting is titled “Build a Positive Self Image." The title stems from her belief that success is a process that everyone creates for themselves. It starts when you’re just a little kid, you have hobbies, you grow up and make your dreams come true. Sometimes you fail, but you learn from your failures. “For me, at the end of the day, success is created from different pieces of small achievements. But it tells the world who you are and you’ll feel happy for what you did.”

Toma Nguyễn, is a Saigon-based freelance graphic designer and illustrator. 24 years old, her hobbies are drawing and listening to music. 

Vũ Tuấn Anh – “What do you really work for?”

Vũ Tuấn Anh has an interesting perspective of what success means. “We all have different dreams, and maybe we don’t believe it, but the world we live in is built from the dreams of those who were here before us. Our phones, our cars, our companies, even our looks. So don’t forget to dream, dream beautiful dreams and make it a reality.” And this is what he depicts from his artwork. To him, fulfilling our dream is a kind of success, event the simplest dream like waking up everyday.

Vũ Tuấn Anh is a Hanoi-based illustrator and visual artist with over 5 years of experience in publishing, editorial, and commercial art. He contributes often to some of Vietnam’s most popular e-magazines, Kenh.14, T-Pot Journal, and more.  

Việt Huỳnh

“This one is pretty straight forward with bold type. I’ve added soft shadows to the letters to create some depth. This creates an optical illusion that makes the words look like they are floating, making them more prominent in the overall composition," shared Việt Huỳnh about his artwork. 

Việt Huỳnh was born and raised in Ho Chi Minh City but now calls San Francisco, California, his home. He is a graphic design artist and often expresses his feelings and important messages through his art. 

Dreamplex: A Space for Success


Dreamplex is a network of co-working spaces in Saigon and Hanoi that wants to inspire and enable young entrepreneurs to be successful. Success that is not just about the bottom line of its members’ companies, but rather a holistic and authentic sense of doing well – personally and in business: working on something you love, with a true sense of purpose, and while creating every day and long-term sustained happiness for yourself and your teams. 

Where you work and the physical surroundings you’re in can influence your mood and productivity a lot. Good workplaces help you connect back to what drives you, every time you walk in, have a meeting, or simply sit down and get some work done. Tying to their mission and vision, Dreamplex spaces are therefore designed as “spaces for success,” where every element of the physical workplace helps you grow your sense of inspiration and motivation.

Come see the exhibition at Dreamplex, 62 Trần Quang Khải, Tân Định, Quận 1.

Check out the next articles in this series:

Paint Your Own Success – Nhung Le
One Step at a Time – Huong Anh Trinh
Build a Positive Self Image – Toma Nguyen