Posted by: Kathy Temean | February 23, 2019

Illustrator Saturday – Khoa Le

Khoa Le is a freelance illustrator, graphic designer, and painter based in Vietnam. She describes her work as whimsical, dark, yet vibrant and combines traditional and digital processes to create her final pieces. Based in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam, Khoa is the author and illustrator of numerous picture books. In addition to her work in publishing, she has a few other side jobs such as graphic designer and painter. As a painter, she has participated in several groups and 2 solo exhibitions, in Vietnam and other Asian countries. Khoa is also a proud mom of 5 cats.

Her work can be described as whimsical, dreamy and with a bit of fantasy. She loves details and can draw a mean line-art, so if she was not an illustrator, she would probably be a tattoo artist.

She is the winner of the Grand Prize Samsung KidsTime Authors Award 2015 (Singapore) and the second runner up of The Scholastic Picture Book Award 2017 (Singapore). Khoa also has a passion for travel, an eagerness to learn about different cultures, and a desire to discover the beauty of the world.


I worked mostly with digital medium. but I make textures with traditional medium such as watercolor, oil color, and also taking pictures of nature’s texture to add in and creating a “traditional” feeling to the paintings. I also creates digital brush myself playing with those textures files.


Put some shading and some text so client can understand generally how it would look

More detail sketching

Full color final Illustration

Interview with Khoa Le: 

How long have you been illustrating?

I think more than 10 years.

What and when was the first painting or illustration that you did where someone paid you for your artwork?

It was a short story book that got published in Vietnam.

Have you always lived in Vietnam?

Yes, I do.

What art university did you attend to major in graphic design?

I went to Ho Chi Minh Fine Art University and graduated with major in graphic design, but regarding to illustration, I would say I’m a self-taught.

Did the school help you find illustration work?

Somewhat. Even my major is graphic design, we still got many fine art related subjects like any fine art student. That helps me put the artistic side in my illustration.

Do you feel art school influenced your illustrating style?

I am not sure. When I was younger I had a lots of favourite artists. I think all of them influence me in someway.

How many picture books have you illustrated?

I cannot remember, probably a lot.  I was somewhat well-known illustrator in Vietnam before I get contracts from other countries.

What was the title of your first published book?

— I don’t remember, it was quite long ago. It was not a very important book/ writer, but I was grateful the editor gave me, a completely new artist, an opportunity to start a career as an illustrator. Definitely gave me some boost received my first payment from illustration work, even though it’s a very small pay.

How did you get that contract?

Through a senior journalist, she knew me through a comic series I had worked for a teenager magazine, then introduce me to the publisher.

What type of illustrating were you doing before illustrating your first book?

I did some comics, some artwork/illustration for myself. I’ve been drawing/painting my whole life. Since I was 3-4 years old, I always have my freetime doodling.

Did you work with any art directors or editors located in the US when you illustrated The Boy Who Cried for Simon & Schuster at their imprint Insight?

No, I did not. The book was published in Italian and French before that, and Insight just bought the right to publish it in English.

Have you written and illustrated a book of your own?

Yes, many. Actually, “The Boy Who Cried” you mentioned above is one of them.

What is your latest book?

The lastest book I’ve written and illustrated called “The mysterious princesses”, also published in Italian and French.

How long have you been making a living from doing freelance illustrating?

Since my 1st book I illustrated ever. I maintain my main job as graphic designer at a publisher while manage doing freelance illustration.

I notice that many of your books are published in languages other than English. Do you know how many different languages have been used with the books you have illustrated?

I think a few, French, Italian, Polish, Spanish, Russian, Chinese.

I see you are represented by Astound. How did you connect with them and how long have they been representing you?

They found me! I have a few portfolio online, one very active is Behence, I think they found me through one of those artist portfolio. They contacted me, through some discussion and consideration I decided to be represented by them. I think it’s been 2 years.

It looks like you might have done a few CD covers. Is that correct? If so, how many have you done and how did they find you?

— Yes, CD cover are very fun to make. As I’m also very much into music, doing CD cover is just one of the most interesting illustration I got the chance to get into. Most of the artists contacted me are young/ new up-coming. I think they also found me somewhere in the internet.

Have you done any book covers?

A lot!

Do you get most of your commissioned work from exhibiting?

Not much. My exhibition was mostly my private artwork/collection. It does not have much to do with my illustration work.

Would you illustrate a book for an author who wants to self-publish?

I would. I’m not the one to choose thing based on prestige or anything. If the story and idea is my thing, and the timing allows me, that would be no problem.

Have you worked with educational publishers? Which ones?

Yes, I do: Learning AZ

Have you done any illustrating for children’s magazines? Which ones?

Yes, Benchmark.

Have you ever thought about illustrating a wordless picture book?

That would be a great idea.

What do you think is your biggest success?

I don’t think I have any big success yet. There’s still many things I want to do.

What is your favorite medium to use?

I started with traditional medium and move forward to digital medium. But still I’d like to combine traditional with digital. Nowadays I work mostly in digital.

Do you own or have you used a Graphic Drawing Tablet when illustrating?

I have a few, they are all from Wacom.

Do you try to spend a specific amount of time working on your craft?

I think all the work I’ve done somehow makes me getting better on my craft, days by days.

Do you take pictures or research a project before you start?


Do you think the Internet has opened doors for you?

Yes, it’s true. Thanks to internet, not just me, but also many illustrators out there can connect to publishers/editors world wide.

Do you have any career dreams that you want to fulfill?

I don’t think ahead and set myself any big goals. Every illustration job I get can be such a joy to work on and I just concentrate on enjoying that, one thing at a time.

What are you working on now?

I have a couple of illustration projects, and one book written/illustrated by myself.

Do you have any material type tips you can share with us? Example: Paint or paper that you love – the best place to buy – a new product that you’ve tried – A how to tip, etc.

I think it varied for all artists, and anything you feel comfortable working on, than it’s good for you.

Any words of wisdom on how to become a successful writer or illustrator?

Keep working and find joy in doing so.

Thank you Khoa for sharing your talent and expertise with us. Make sure you share you future successes with us. To see more of Khoa’s work, you can visit her at: Website:

If you have a minute, please leave a comment for Khoa. I am sure she’d love to hear from you and I enjoy reading them, too.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Amazing! Stunning! What a work of art! Love it!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Love your work!


  3. Khoa, your work is gorgeous! Thanks for sharing it with us. I love the two with the girl and the polar bear.


  4. Reblogged this on Freelance News and commented:
    ho chi minh , khoa le


  5. Your work is exquisite and so varied and magical. I especially love ones in the vein of Leda and the Swan.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I just absolutely love your work Khoa! Such a visual delight!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Lovely, thought-provoking images… thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Wow, your work is magical! Thanks so much for sharing. Absolutely gorgeous!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Wonderful world you create, full of magic!


  10. Thank you Kathy, for finding, interviewing, and sharing the work and words of this lovely, joyful and deep artist.


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