Going Against The Grain: LeUyen Pham

FFAP2014 Artist LeUyen Pham

leuyen

LeUyen Pham is an award-winning author/illustrator of nearly sixty children’s books.  Her books include “God’s Dream,” written by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the New York Times Bestselling series “Freckleface Strawberry,” written by Julianne Moore, “Grace for President” by Kelly DiPucchio, the Alvin Ho Series by Lenore Look and “The Boy Who Loved Math” by Deborah Heiligman, to name a few.  She also co-illustrated (with her husband Alex Puvilland) the New York Times Bestseller “Templar,” a 450-page graphic novel written by “Prince of Persia” creator Jordan Mechner.  Her books have garnered numerous awards, including the Society of Illustrators Bronze Medal, the Junior Library Guild recipient, Parent’s Magazine, the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio award, among others.  Prior to illustrating books, LeUyen began her career at Dreamworks Feature Animation as a layout artist.  LeUyen lives in San Francisco with her husband and her two adorable young boys, Leo and Adrien.

Full Name:

LeUyen Pham

Hometown:

born Vũng Tàu, Vietnam

Current City:

San Francisco

Ethnicity:

Vietnamese/French

 What does it mean to you to “Go Against The Grain?”

I have the perfect drawing that answers that question better than I could with words.

 

brave fish

What made you decide to pursue a career in the book industry?

I don’t know that I decided to pursue it as much as it pursued me. I’ve loved children’s books and illustrating all my life, but I have to admit as a kid I’d never been encouraged by my parents to be an artist. They were more inclined towards a more traditional field for me. In my family, I have an older sister, two older brothers and a younger brother. We were expected to become (in that order): a doctor, a businessman, a dentist, a lawyer and an engineer. I was told that to become artist would mean confining myself to a life of poverty. Of course, this is understandable that my parents, having come from a war torn country, would want their children to pursue the safest of careers. (Also, let’s admit it, with an arsenal of children like that; my parents would never have to pay for professional services ever again! All I’d have to do would be to marry a mechanic, and they’d be covered for life!) Most of my siblings did pursue those jobs, but somehow, when it came to me, I just didn’t go that way. I went as far as attending UCLA for two years as a political science major, before jumping ship and entering art school. Even there, I was told that one could never make a living as a children’s book illustrator, that it was a side job at best. Somehow, for whatever reason, I didn’t listen. I think I’ve got some sort of internal compass in me that always points me in the way my heart needs me to go. Cornball, I know, to say that, but it’s absolutely true. So here I am, having not listened to anybody, and doing exactly what I thought i could never do. Wait a second, holy cow! I think I just accidentally answered the “going against the grain” question.

What have been some of the challenges you faced/lessons you learned as an Asian American in this field?

Seriously? The BIGGEST challenge is that NOBODY CAN PRONOUNCE MY NAME. I’m not even joking about that! I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard my name slaughtered before a presentation. Even some of my closest friends, even editors I’ve known for years, hesitate slightly before introducing me. I think it’s funny, though. And I usually start out any talk to elementary schools or at signings with a proper pronunciation of my name. I even renamed my website to “howdoyoupronounceuyen.com.” I figure, the day any kid can walk into a book store or library and ask for a book by me, and be able to pronounce my name correctly, is the day that I can count myself a success in this field.

Also, publishers who don’t know me who call me are always surprised to hear my voice on the phone. I think they think I’m a man. Which I like to take as close to a compliment, suggesting that my art doesn’t seem more feminine than masculine. But still, if I see another letter addressed to “Mr. LeUyen Pham”, I don’t know what I’ll do…

Other than that, though, I’d have to say that as an Asian American, the publishing field is an extremely welcoming field. I think stories that are not main stream, with culturally diverse characters, are really sought after. So I can’t say I’ve have any complaints!

What do you feel is your biggest accomplishment, and why?

I don’t think I’ve had any really big accomplishments. I think I’ve had a large number of little accomplishments that have led me to where I am. I can’t say with any certainty that any single event changed my life so much that it propelled me to where i am now. I just kept doing what I was doing, kept moving slowly towards my goals, and lo and behold, I look up and find myself having published over 50 books, happily living the life of an artist and feeling very fulfilled.

Wait a second! Holy cow, I forgot my kids. Do my kids count? They’re pretty big accomplishments! Well, actually, they’re still pretty young, maybe I should wait until they’ve moved out of the house before I can say that.

What’s up next?

Oh, brother. What’s NOT up next? I’m one extremely busy illustrator. This year alone I’ve illustrated already 6 books, and I’m not even done yet. Let’s see… I’ve just finished illustrating a book called “Vampirina Ballerina Hosts a Sleepover,” written by Anne Marie Pace. The book is about a Vampire girl who has a sleepover, but is embarrassed to show her friends her home, as she’s, well, a vampire, and her house is appropriately ghoulish. But the little Vampire girl is really me, a little Vietnamese girl, who was also embarrassed to bring over her best friend. When I was ten, my friend came over to my house and wondered at all the “Vietnamese” stuff around — the shrine to my grandparents, the fact we had to take off our shoes — she even saw chicken feet frying in my mom’s pan! I remember being so embarrassed, but now I look back and wish I’d embraced my culture more. So “Vampirina Ballerina” is a way for me to revisit that part of my life, and in the book, this little vampire girl starts out feeling embarrassed, but with the support of her family, and in realizing herself that it’s pretty cool to be different, she gets her friends to embrace her life too. Other projects? Let’s see, I have a couple board books coming out called “Pat-a-Cake” and “All Fall Down” with Candlewick Books, a huge picture book on “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” where all the different characters (maids a milkin’, lords a leapin’, etc) are represented by different ethnicities around the world (and yes, I have a Vietnamese maid a milkin’, in an ao dai, a Thai drummer, a Japanese lady dancing and all manner of all other races — see the accompanying illustration) coming out next year, a book called “The Princess in Black” written by Shannon Hale, about a very pink girly princess by day, monster-fighting super hero girl by night, and then another young reader book written by Lenore Look called “Alvin Ho”, about a young chinese boy living in Massachusetts who is absolutely afraid of everything, but in a very funny way… I also did a New York TImes Bestselling 450 graphic novel with my husband Alex Puvilland (illustrator extraordinaire and the one critic I trust the most) called “Templar,” written by Jordon Mechner. And then on top of all that, I’ve got a bunch of my own stories coming out. “No Such Thing As Little” (the illustration previously shown is one for this book), “Friends” (a story based on my youngest son), another as yet untitled project… the list kind of goes on, I’m exhausted just thinking of it! Here are some sample pieces of some of my projects.

Alvin Ho
“Alvin Ho”
2
“The Twelve Days of Christmas”
3
“Vampirina Hosts a Sleepover”
From "Sketchtravel", soon to be "Friends"
From “Sketchtravel”, soon to be “Friends”
"Templar"
“Templar”

Quote to live by:

I have MANY quotes, hard to choose one.  So I’ll offer up two:

“It is curious that physical courage should be so common in the world and moral courage so rare.” — Mark Twain

“If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.” — Milton Berle

Funny that my biggest heroes are funny old white guys (that’s not a quote, that’s just me commenting on my quote choices).

Sign (Eastern Animal Sign & Western Zodiac):

Year of the Ox (go Ox Girl!) and Leo (roar lion!)

Passionate about:

Everything.  Seriously.  I have boundless energy for all things that I’m even a little interested in.  When I grow old, I won’t die, I’ll just burn out at last.

Favorite food:

My mom makes the most awesome cơm gà (chicken rice) in the world.  Like, I dream about it sometimes.  She never makes it for me any more, just for my kids.  Oh, and then sushi.

Can’t live without:

My husband and kids of course!  Then my ten minutes of alone time in the morning with my coffee and the internet.  And, well, so sad to admit this, but : my iPad, NPR, Netflix, Kindle.  Before you judge, remember that I draw and paint in a studio pretty much by myself most of the time and require some sort of intelligent life form emanating from some source, be it virtual or otherwise.

Going Against The Grain: Jody Pham

JodyPham_portrait_ATG

JodyPham_portrait_ATG

Jody Pham is an artist and illustrator based in Dallas. Her love and appreciation for the visual arts began at a very young age, and only grew with time. Her work is distinctively monochromatic, and filled with intricate details that invite the viewer to take a closer look.

She has worked on a wide array of creative projects, from providing illustrations for Stripmall Architecture’s last album, creating bag designs for a collaboration with Cykochik custom handbags, to illustrating the winning canvas-wrapped cooler for Red Bull’s Canvas Cooler competition this Summer. She has showcased her work at the Fort Worth Community Art Center, as well as created live at art shows throughout the Metroplex, including Art Love Magic’s Underground and GirlShow; Local Flavor, Kettle Art’s Holiday Presence, and Art-Hunger’s One Year Anniversary Show. She has also donated original works for various fundraisers and charity events, including Artists Healing Japan in Dallas, and Anatomy for Life in the UK. She’s thrilled to exhibit her work at SCOPE Miami during Art Basel for the first time this December.

In addition to her artistic goals, she aspires for a career in social services, with a focus on the needs of children and families. She recently earned her BA in Sociology from UNT, and is currently pursuing her Masters of Science in Social Work at UTA. She hopes to continue integrating her passions for human services and the arts in her community as she works to further cultivate both.

Full Name:

Jody Lynh Pham

Hometown:

Grand Prairie, Texas

Current City:

Dallas, Texas

Ethnicity:

½ Vietnamese and European (German, Scottish, and Irish)

What does it mean to you to “Go Against The Grain?”:

Accomplishing great things through unconventional methods. Defying conformity and shunning mediocrity. Taking chances. Being resilient, open-minded, and receptive to new ideas and ways of doing things.

What made you decide to pursue a career in the arts industry?

Art is such a powerful tool, for both the creator and observer. It creates a wide array of emotions that captivate and move people. I truly think that art has the power to change lives. It’s been a constant in my life that has always made me feel a deeper connection with the world around me.

What have been some of the challenges you faced/lessons you learned as an Asian American in this field?

In my younger years, it was a challenge to pursue the creative arts, which conflicted with my family’s expectations to I would seek a degree in the Science or Technology spectrum. While they did give me positive feedback about my work, they didn’t consider it a “serious” path that could actually lead to anything.

What do you feel is your biggest accomplishment, and why?

Being the first person in my family to earn my BA, and pursue my Masters. I’m also proud of how far I’ve come after putting my art out into the local art scene in the last couple years. Up until 2011, I had primarily shown my work through online avenues, and was honestly very apprehensive about taking the plunge. I didn’t realize the impact that being face to face with art patrons would have on me. Putting my work out into the community has given me the gift of meeting so many dynamic and passionate people, as well as providing me with opportunities to grow as a visual artist in countless ways.

What’s up next?

I’m preparing to show at SCOPE Miami this December, and also have my first solo show in the works. I also want to be more active in my community in regards to promoting the arts, and volunteering my time.

Quote to live by: “There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.” -Ernest Hemingway

Sign (Eastern Animal Sign & Western Zodiac): Monkey/Aquarius

Passionate about: drawing, multicultural studies, volunteering, learning, cooking Vietnamese food, genealogy, human rights.

Favorite food: Sushi, takoyaki, pho, banh xeo, anything Greek.

Can’t live without: My iPhone.

Fashion for a Passion No. 5 Marks New Milestone

DALLAS, TX – Non-profit ATG Against The Grain Productions hosted its annual charity event Fashion for a Passion No. 5 on Saturday, Oct. 12th at The Dallas Contemporary Museum in the Dallas Design District. The show was attended by 365 guests who helped to raise $35k, which will go toward for ATG’s supported orphanages in Asia, scholarship fund and year-round outreach programs.

Copyright by David Loi
Copyright by David Loi

Entering the Dallas Contemporary, guests got to enjoy the ambiance set by Lumiere Lighting & Drapery and music by DJs Super T, tasty bites by Royal Catering, sips by Ben E Keith and dessert by Sugarbee Sweets Bakery. Hung from the rafters with red rope hangers were the eight designers’ t-shirt design pieces. The work of eight Exhibiting Artists – Jody Pham, Trung Vuong, Kathy Tran, Cameron Lee Phan and ATG Artistic Scholarship winners DJ Wang, Grace Kwon, Xiaoye Jiang and Catherine ‘Kit’ Zauhar’s were displayed, flanked by tables of fabulous silent auction packages. Pre-show Musical Performers from ATG’s community partner Kollaboration Dallas included Kassy Levels, Mijee Park, J.O and Y.O!, as well as a special performance by ATG Artistic Scholarship winner Kendyl Ito. The show kicked off with a surprise ensemble performance. As guests took their seats, President/Founder Tammy Nguyen Lee, Community Outreach Directors Jared Rehberg and Hue Dao Miner and 2012 Artistic Scholarship winner Thoa Nguyen honored the two 2013 Artistic Scholarship winners who were present at the event, showing videos of gratitude from the ones who were unable to be present in person.

Copyright by Ivy Do
Copyright by Ivy Do

“It was a special, emotional and wonderful milestone night, and we could not have done it without the efforts of so many who were willing to devote the necessary money, time and talent to making this event happen,” said President/Founder Tammy Nguyen Lee. “It is no small feat that an organization like ours can continue to pull off an event of this caliber and magnitude consistently year after year. I’m tremendously proud of our team and sincerely grateful to all who have helped our cause.”

First time attendee and 2013 Kollaboration Dallas winner Kassy Levels gave it her all, staged a fantastic set and enjoyed every minute of FFAP. “It was definitely a classy event! The scene was an incredible display of art, talent and fashion,” said Levels. “I am proud to say I was part of FFAP No. 5 not just because of the event, but more importantly, the organization that directly benefits the event.”

Copyright by David Loi
Copyright by David Loi

Musical entertainers and exhibiting artists shared their love and support to ATG President/Founder Tammy Nguyen Lee and the Board for all their hard work to get FFAP where it is today.

Kendyl Ito expressed her thanks to ATG for recognizing her as a scholarship winner and musical performer. “Thanks so much ATG! It truly is an honor to be an Artistic Scholarship winner, and I couldn’t be more proud to be a member of the ATG community now. You all inspire me everyday and give me the extra push to continue in my artistic endeavors! Be bold and always live life ‘against the grain.’”

“As a musician and artist myself, I’ve done my fair share of performances. Still, FFAP was a more precious experience than most; in that it was an event supporting aspiring artists follow their dreams. I’ve never felt more blessed and honored to be part of an event,” performer Mijee Park said. “Seeing people come out to not only socialize but support so many different artists, communities and causes were amazing. It shows that ATG is being proactive which is something that we desperately need in this world, in order to better ourselves and do better onto others.”

Copyright by David Loi
Copyright by David Loi

Exhibiting Artist Kathy Tran attended the event and realized how much effort and opportunities ATG has provided for audience and volunteers to mingle. “I was exhilarated to be a part of the event with other artists of all forms. I had the opportunity to connect with quality people of the Asian community in Dallas…I was home!”

The evening was emceed by actress/model LeeAnne Locken and CBS 11 Morning News Reporter Elizabeth Dinh, who engaged the audience from the start with lively banter and humor. In honor of the anniversary, even the catwalk was shaped in a “5.” Beautiful models from Page Parkes Management, Dragonfly Agency and Campbell-Wagner Runway strutted off the diverse collections of eight Presenting Designers, including Nikki Duong Koenig of Cykochik Custom Handbags paired with Vera Wang’s Viviona swimwear, Kim PhamBecky Hollands, Danh Ta, Cac Lam of Cac DeMode, Texas Next Top Designer winner Hanh Dang of Lucy Dang and Jerry Matthews of Nine Muses.

Copyright by David Loi
Copyright by David Loi

Returning designers expressed their appreciation to the show for helping getting them positive label exposure, as it has for FFAP success story Khanh Nguyen of Nha Khanh.

“Against The Grain’s FFAP was a successful event not only to help me launch my career as a designer, but also to spread support for education in Asian American communities and to provide funding for orphanages in Asia,” designer Danh Ta said. “This is why I chose to return and participate as a veteran designer. ATG has been a true inspiration pushing me to accomplish more as a designer while in turn helping to raise awareness for those who are less fortunate.”

Copyright by Ivy Do
Copyright by Ivy Do

Jerry Matthews of Nine Muses closed the show and said, “FFAP is always a highlight of the year for me. It’s so great to work with such passionate people while doing something we love and giving back to a great cause. The event itself was so fabulous, it seems like ATG somehow make every year a unique experience that is way different than their previous shows. I can’t wait for next year.”

Copyright by Chi Tran
Copyright by Chi Tran

First time presenting designers expressed humble gratitude for being selected to showcase their work for Fashion for a Passion and awe at the show’s production value.

Becky Hollands has been eager to participate in her first Fashion for a Passion and has made the goal to return again in the future. “This year marked my first year and I am so grateful and honored for the opportunity to chase my dream and in doing so, utilizing my time and talent to celebrate the Asian American community alongside artists and musicians to promote opportunities for scholarships, funds and raise money for orphanages in Asia. ATG has given me the opportunity, the voice and the extra push in taking the plunge to pursue my dream as a fashion designer and launching my own label.”

“ATG put together a great pack of designers,” said Vera Wang. “All the designs were strong and refreshing…Viviona Swimwear is proud to be part of it.”

Each presenting designer donated at least 2 pieces to be auctioned for charity live. Additional auction pieces were given by FFAP veteran Nha Khanh, Dora Yim, Ann Hoang by Ann Hoang, Le Dragon d’Or and Watters. The night’s top bids were for a black racer back wool peplum top with embellishments and black wool flared pant by Nha Khanh, a 18K White Gold with Diamonds “Handcuff Necklace” from The Bound Collection by Le Dragon d’Or and a “Vega” ivory textured organza wedding gown by Watters.

Copyright by Chi Tran
Copyright by Chi Tran

To see photos from the evening’s event, please visit the ATG Flickr site, with photos courtesy of David Loi, Chi Tran and Ivy Do.

The non-profit will launch a $10k social media holiday fundraising campaign starting November 1st, to help reach its annual goal and a record of $50k raised in one year, 100% of which will go towards the next year’s giving budget for orphanage aid, scholarship funds and outreach programs.

ATG Against The Grain Productions, a Dallas-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, promotes Asian American cultural awareness through compelling media projects and raises funds for international orphanages. In addition to giving out an annual scholarship to exemplary Asian American students pursuing a degree in the arts, they also produced the feature documentary, Operation Babylift: The Lost Children of Vietnam, which has screened at over a dozen film festivals nationwide and received the Audience Choice Award for Best Feature Film at the Vietnamese International Film Festival and the Documentary Audience Choice Award from the Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival. For more information, visit www.AgainstTheGrainProductions.com or www.TheBabylift.com.

2013 Fashion for a Passion No. 5 Words of Praise

Photo courtesy of David Loi
Photo courtesy of David Loi

2013 was landmark year for Dallas-based non-profit ATG Against The Grain Productions, who recently hosted its 5th annual Fashion for a Passion charity event. A unique evening, Fashion for a Passion brings the community together to celebrate emerging Asian American fashion designers, artists and musicians as a platform to promote up and coming talent. This year’s event was hosted at Dallas Contemporary, attended by 365 guests and raised nearly $35,000 for ATG’s supported orphanages in Asia, artistic and leadership scholarship funds and outreach programs.

Read some of this year’s reviews:

FFAP is always a highlight of the year for me. It’s so great to work with such passionate people while doing something we love and giving back to a great cause. The event itself was so fabulous, it seems like ATG somehow make every year a unique experience that is way different than their previous shows. I can’t wait for next year. – Jerry Matthews of Nine Muses, Presenting Designer

I cannot express my gratitude and admiration for ATG and Fashion for a Passion as an organization and group of people. My brand “Lucy Dang” was launched officially with ATG and it has been an amazing 3 years for us professional since our debut. I truly believe by being a part of this charity and helping contribute to this amazing cause, we were blessed tenfolds. – Hanh Dang of Lucy Dang, Presenting Designer

Against The Grain’s FFAP was a successful event not only to help me launch my career as a designer, but also to spread support for education in Asian American communities and to provide funding for orphanages in Asia. This is why I chose to return and participate as a veteran designer. ATG has been a true inspiration, pushing me to accomplish more as a designer while in turn helping to raise awareness for those who are less fortunate. – Danh Ta, Presenting Designer

This year marked my first year, and I am so grateful and honored for the opportunity to chase my dream and in doing so, utilize my time and talent to celebrate the Asian American community alongside artists and musicians to promote opportunities for scholarships funds and raise money for orphanages in Asia. ATG has given me the opportunity, the voice and the extra push in taking the plunge to purse my dream as a fashion designer and launching my own label. – Becky Hollands, Presenting Designer

Thanks to everyone for making it such a fabulous event. I would love to work with ATG in the future. – Vera Wang of Viviona, Presenting Designer

Thanks so much ATG! It truly is an honor to be an Artistic Scholarship winner and I couldn’t be more proud to be a member of the ATG community now. You all inspire me everyday and give me the extra push to continue in my artistic endeavors! Be bold and always live life ‘against the grain.’ – Kendyl Ito, 2013 ATG Artistic Scholarship Winner

It was definitely a classy event! The scene was an incredible display of art, talent and fashion. I am proud to say I was part of FFAP No. 5 not just because of the event, but more importantly the organization that directly benefits the event. – Kassy Levels, Musical Performer

It was so great experiencing the ATG event and performing for it. Everything was well organized and put together on a “next level scale.” Being involved and seeing the true passion of Tammy and her crew’s hard work was really what made the show so great. The models, designers, art and music artist were all on point. I’m just happy we got to perform for the fashion show. Definitely going to be there next year! Thank you, Tammy! – Josh Osgood & Anthony Young of J.O. & Y.O.!, Musical Performer

As a musician and artist myself, I’ve done my fair share of performances. Still, FFAP was a more precious experience than most; in that it was an event supporting aspiring artists follow their dreams. I’ve never felt more blessed and honored to be part of an event. Seeing people come out to not only socialize but support so many different artists, communities and causes were amazing. It shows that ATG is being proactive which is something that we desperately need in this world, in order to better ourselves and do better onto others. – Mijee Park, Musical Performer

I was exhilarated to be a part of the event with other artists of all forms. I had the opportunity to connect with quality people of the Asian community in Dallas…I was home! – Kathy Tran, Exhibiting Artist

It has been my honor to be a part of such a worthy cause again this past year. – Dr. Sam Lam of Lam Facial Plastics and Ova Skin Care, Year-Round Sponsor

It’s all about the kids. Keep up the good work. – Ace Kham of Copy HQ, Year-Round Sponsor

I am privileged to be involved with Against The Grain as it continues to organize wonderful events as a platform for rising Asian Americans and donate all its net profit to orphanages in Asia and creating scholarships for students seeking degrees in the arts. – John Ting, Esq. of Law Office of John Ting

Against The Grain’s Fashion for a Passion showed off some very talented young designers and singers whose donations along with the audiences support helped raise money for a great cause. Having never attended an event like this, I was impressed with the entire production which involves so many people donating their time to make this event a success. – Jeff Lanscek, Portfolio Administrator of Baldrige Asset Management, VIP Guest

The ATG Fashion Show was a fun and fashionable event with an array of talented artists. It was a great way to mingle with local designers and see their beautiful designs, all while benefiting a great cause. – Valerie Huggard of Senior Accountant at SEI, VIP Guest

FFAP No.5 was an incredible milestone event which I am incredibly proud and humbled to have been a part of as a board member and a presenting designer for Cykochik Custom Handbags. Everyone came together for ATG’s cause and produced another high-caliber event. I am inspired and moved by all the talents involved! – Nikki Duong Koenig, Presenting Designer

I have had the privilege of show casing my collection with ATG since the launch of the very first Annual Fashion for a Passion, and it is heart warming to watch how the show and the organization as a whole has evolved over the years. She show has become such a spectacle every year and provide platforms for emerging designers like me to further our careers. I admire ATG so much for their dedication to better the community, and truly appreciates the opportunity to use my talents to support such a great cause. – Kim Pham, Presenting Designer

Even though I did not physically attend the event, it was an honor to participate and have my work be a part of the show! The work ATG does is truly exceptional. – Xiaoye Jiang, 2013 ATG Scholarship Winner

Fashion for Passion no. 5 was my third year of supporting for this great cause. I am so honored to be a part of it and very happy that I could be able to contribute to the cause. I am so proud of how everyone came together, supported, and worked so hard to make the event became another successful year. I am looking forward for next year event with bigger progress, bigger success. Thank you so much for letting me be a part of an amazing cause – Cac Lam, Presenting Designer

Pictures from the event can be viewed on the ATG Facebook Page or ATG Flickr Page, courtesy of David Loi, Chi Tran and Ivy Do.

See highlights from D Magazine.

Read DFW Style Daily’s Coverage by Heather Lettieri.

Read Asia World Media’s Coverage by Anthony Tran.

For more press/media information on the event, please contact Elizabeth Dinh or Annie Tran at pr@againstthegrainproductions.com.

ATG Against The Grain Productions, a Dallas-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, promotes Asian American cultural awareness through compelling media projects and raises funds for international orphanages. In addition to giving out annual scholarships to exemplary Asian American student leaders and those pursuing a degree in the arts, they also produced the feature documentary, Operation Babylift: The Lost Children of Vietnam, which has screened at over a dozen film festivals nationwide and received the Audience Choice Award for Best Feature Film at the Vietnamese International Film Festival and the Documentary Audience Choice Award from the Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival. For more information, visit www.AgainstTheGrainProductions.com or www.TheBabylift.com.

Asia World Media: The Fusion of Fashions for a Honorable Cause

http://www.asiaworldmedia.com/main/archives/5360

When Fashion, Art and Music are merged together, what do you get?

FFAP5 from Asia World Media

Fashion for a Passion : a show entering it’s 5th year as a supportive venue for young Asian-American artists, musicians and fashion designers.  Hosted by Against the Grain Productions, the show features a diverse group of artists  of Chinese, Korean, Taiwanese, Vietnamese, Filipino and Japanese descent.  On October 12thin the Dallas Contemporary in the Dallas Design District,  a carefully selected group of fashion designers, artists, and musicians showed off their work, including local vocalist Kassy Levels and fashion designer Nikki Duong Koenig (Cykochik). Though musicians such as  Mijee Park, and Kendyl performed  for the audience, fashion design lead the show.

AWMFFAP_16

The idea of creative fusion sparked younger Asian American who participated in the show. Designers featured were Vera Wang (Viviona), Kim Pham, Becky Hollands, Danh Ta, Jerry Matthews (Nine Muses), Cac Lam (Cac Demode) and Hanh Dang (Lucy Dang). Among the designs were a line of beautiful, sexy and edgy skirts  by Nine Muses, which focuses on sophistication for women’s clothing. Some Fashion for Passion attendees were lucky enough to take home designer dresses by the FFAP designers.  One woman took home a wild, leopard print dress by Ann Hoang.

But Fashion for a Passion is not just about promoting artists. The profits made from the show go toward Asian orphanages , non-profit organizations and scholarships

AWMFFAP5_10

Through past funds, Fashion for a Passion was able to award five artistic scholarships to students who pursued the fields of fashion, music, and Contemporary Art Saturday night. Among the recipients was Catherine ‘Kit’ Zauhar , a film and television production major from New York University.

”I’m really excited to be going to Fashion for a Passion, because I am obsessed with all things fashion, and this will be my first time getting to go to such an event,” Said Zauhar.

AWMFFAP5_11

Other recipients were Kendyl Ito (Sacramento, CA), Catherine “Kit” Zauhar (Philadelphia, PA), Grace Kwon (Tigard, OR), Dih Jiun “DJ” Wang (Virginia Beach, VA), and Xiaoye Jiang (Minneapolis, MN).

Overall, the 2013 Fashion For A Passion  show raised awareness and money for orphanages in Asia and provided a safe haven for the young and upcoming generations of Asian American artists to express themselves.

AWMFFAP5_16

“Each year, Fashion for a Passion is painstakingly planned down to the finest details in an effort to create a quality platform that promotes a new generation of young and exciting Asian American artists and to bring the community together.” said Tammy Nguyen Lee, the  President and Founder of ATG.

For more information about Against the Grain Productions, visit http://www.againstthegrainproductions.com

AWMATG8

awmffap_12

AWMFFAP51

awmffap5_9

AWMFFAP5_8

AWMFFAP5_7

 

AWMFFAP5_5

AWMFFAP5_4

AWMFFAP5_2

AWMATG10
Photo Courtesy of Luwan Hy (Cam Cam)

 

 

 

 

 

 

DFW Style Daily: Against The Grain’s ‘Fashion For A Passion’ Marks Fifth Successful Year

Against The Grain Productions’ annual Fashion For A Passion show is truly one of my favorite Dallas events. And it’s not just because of the clothes.
From left: ATG Vice President Nikki Duong Koenig, Vera Wang of Viviona, ATG President and Founder Tammy Nguyen Lee, and a FFAP guest.
Last Saturday, October 12th, marked the fifth year for this popular charity show, held once again at the Dallas ContemporaryAgainst The Grain (ATG) is a non-profit organization dedicated to educational and outreach programs within the Asian American community, as well as raising funds for orphanages in Asia. Fashion For A Passion is its most popular event, bringing together designers, musicians, food, and artists for a memorable evening. Click here for my coverage of Fashion For A Passion 2012.

This year, ATG rounded up an impressive roster of eight local Asian American designers. They included Hanh Dang of Lucy DangTexas Next Top Designer 2013 and winner of Belk’s Southern Designer Showcase, as well as Jerry Matthews of DFW Style Daily favorite, Nine Muses. In addition to showcasing looks from their lines on the runway, each designer donated at least two garments to be auctioned live during the show.

Leather and lace dress by Lucy Dang

Khanh Nguyen of Nhã Khanh watches as her donations are auctioned for the cause.

True, the clothes were simply incredible. But the aspect of this community event that is even more important to remember is that ATG is 100% non-profit. The nearly $100,000 they have raised to date through this effort has been utilized in its entirety to further its cause. No one, from the production team to the models to ATG’s board members, is paid. Each donates his or her time and talents, and the result is one hell of a production.

Viviona Swimwear, accessorized with Cykochik Custom Handbags
A three-piece fall ensemble by Kim Pham

Designer Becky Hollands (left) poses with an auction winner.
Bustier, jacket and skirt by Danh Ta

Two looks by Cac Demode Designs
Four distinctly stunning dresses by Nine Muses

Over the years, I’ve come to know most everyone involved in Fashion For A Passion. Tammy Nguyen Lee, ATG President and Founder, is one of the kindest, most hardworking individuals you could ever hope to meet. Beautiful actress and model LeeAnne Locken has emceed the event for past four years, bringing her signature brand of excitement and fun. The designers, again donating their time and beloved creations, continue to impress and inspire. These are my friends, and I’m proud of them. I love this event because of what it stands for. It isn’t about segregating our community, but about bringing us together so that we can be proud of our neighbors and share in their successes.

 

All photos, credit Heather Lettieri for DFW Style Daily.

Exhibiting Artists Reveal New Depths to Fifth Annual Fashion for a Passion

FFAP5_artists_collage

DALLAS, TX – Dallas-based non-profit ATG Against The Grain Productions puts on more than just a fashion show every year; the innovative organization’s overall purpose and goal is to support and promote Asian American artists, and this event has become a platform to share fashion, music and the latest emerging art. The anticipated Fashion for a Passion No. 5 will be held at the Dallas Contemporary on Saturday, October 12th from 6:30 PM – 10:00 PM, and this year there will be an eclectic mix of eight Exhibiting Artists who represent different genres and styles. Guests will not only get to view but even bid to own one of a kind pieces from this granted group of rising stars, including ATG Artistic Scholarship Winners DJ Wang, Grace Kwon, Xiaoye Jiang and  Catherine ‘Kit” Zauhar, alongside local artists Jody Pham, Trung Vuong of Loyal K.N.G, Kathy Tran and Cameron Lee Phan. From photography to painting and even the newest addition of short films, several types of art media created by Asian American artists will be on display for guests to enjoy. Proceeds of the event go to benefit ATG’s supported orphanages in Asia, artistic and leadership scholarship funds and outreach programs.

“What ATG is trying to do is not only encourage art appreciation but also to build a community of artists and bring together those who love it and are passionate about it  to support one another,” said ATG President/Founder Tammy Nguyen Lee. “Whether it’s on a canvas or on a TV screen, ATG wants to share the talent and unique message that these artists have and hopefully bring some inspiration to others.”

There are more ways than one to show how much you love to exhibit your passion through art, and Jody Pham truly exhibits a wide array of creative skill — from providing illustrations for Stripmall Architecture’s last album, creating bag designs for a collaboration with Cykochik Custom Handbags, to illustrating the winning canvas-wrapped cooler for Red Bull’s Canvas Cooler competition this summer. Before donating her pieces to Fashion for a Passion, Jody has previously donated original works for various fundraisers and charity events like Artists Healing Japan in Dallas and Anatomy for Life in the U.K.

“I am thrilled to be an exhibiting visual artist for Fashion for a Passion! I am especially excited to be a part of an event that not only works to help those in need through creative expression, but also brings both the talents and unique struggles of the Asian community to the forefront.”

Most people make their life choices and decisions to better comfort themselves when it comes down to it, but Trung Vuong made his choices by living a lifestyle that commonly beat all odds. A dropout pre-med student, he chose to pursue his passions in the artistic fields through developing his own T-shirt brand, Loyal K.N.G. Throughout the past 4 years since the brand’s inception, Trung, along with his teams of passionate artists and leaders, have grown Loyal K.N.G. into a full-fledged lifestyle brand that sells jackets, button-downs, hats and more.

“It’s an honor to be apart of such a positive cultural community event, and to be able to showcase our artwork at Fashion for a Passion really invigorates our resolve to keep creating and contributing our artwork to the world.”

Beaumont, Texas native Kathy Tran carries around a sketchbook, knows how to handle various professional cameras and some nights may be seen sporting a pair of boxing gloves. Because Kathy likes to do so much, she doesn’t consider herself just a photographer, designer or sketcher – but instead, a creative individual. Kathy is currently studying at Brookhaven College, working on an Associate of Arts degree and plans to transfer to Southern Methodist University to study Creative Writing, all while donating her time to this year’s show.

“It means a great deal to be a part of this event, because it hits home for me in every aspect with the arts, fashion, my culture and the charity connection to the orphanages, because I myself have recently been adopted. I’m living in two worlds of culture and class as a Vietnamese American artist, and Fashion for a Passion ties my worlds together.”

Currently based in North Texas, Cameron Lee Phan is a Vietnamese American photographer whose work focuses on fashion and portraiture. He develops more for his work each year and continues to grow in the field and path that he follows.

“Being a part of the 5th annual Fashion for a Passion is an honor! It means breaking down limitations and paving the road for innovation!”

Five seems to be the magic number for ATG this year, as the organization recently awarded a record five artistic scholarships to graduating high school seniors, all of whom are participating in Fashion for a Passion No. 5.  One of the biggest benefits of winning the scholarship as an artist is to be able to be connected immediately to a community of fellow artists and art patrons who can help bolster, mentor and launch these budding careers. Included are 18 year-old Grace Kwon, a Tigard, Oregon native who is majoring in Visual and Fine Arts and 17-year-old Xiaoye Jiang, an adopted Chinese Jew who grew up in Minnesota who is attending New York University double majoring in Photography and Sociology.

Dih Jiun “DJ” Wang just began his freshman year at The Parsons School of Design in New York City, majoring in Communication Design. DJ is Taiwanese from Virginia Beach, VA who has a wide-range of artistic talents, from fashion design to the visual arts.

“Being a part of the 5th annual Fashion for a Passion means being a part of something greater than myself. Something phenomenal. Something inspiring,”

For the first time, ATG is incorporating film into its line-up of exhibited art. “It’s so ironic that we never had film in our previous FFAP,” said President/Founder Tammy Nguyen Lee. “Considering film is my first creative passion, it only made sense to bring it into spotlight now. We’re thrilled to show the work of one of our scholarship winners and partner with The Asian Film Festival of Dallas to bring you some of the coolest ‘visual wallpaper’ to enjoy.”

“I’m really excited to be going to Fashion for a Passion, because I am obsessed with all things fashion, and this will be my first time getting to go to such an event,” said Catherine ‘Kit’ Zauhar, a Philadelphia native who is majoring in Film and Television Production at the elite Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. Art is a deep part of Catherine’s life, and she aims to use her talents to tell compelling stories. “I am so happy and inspired by a lot of current Asian American designers (Anna Sui, Alexander Wang, etc.), and I can’t wait to see what kind of interesting and unique looks are put forth. I feel like fashion is still an industry that Asian Americans are breaking into, so it’s really exciting to be apart of such an interesting and unique time for Asian American designers. I absolutely cannot wait to be in the same room as so many talented Asian American artists!” Her short film, IT WAS FALL, will play on a screen in addition to the short film, THIEF, directed by Jay Chern (a Taiwanese filmmaker who grew up in Texas).

Tickets to Fashion for a Passion range from $50 to $100 and are on sale exclusively online at the FFAP Event Page.

For more press/media information on the event, please contact Elizabeth Dinh or Annie Tran at pr@againstthegrainproductions.com.

ATG Against The Grain Productions, a Dallas-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, promotes Asian American cultural awareness through compelling media projects and raises funds for international orphanages. In addition to giving out annual scholarships to exemplary Asian American student leaders and those pursuing a degree in the arts, they also produced the feature documentary, Operation Babylift: The Lost Children of Vietnam, which has screened at over a dozen film festivals nationwide and received the Audience Choice Award for Best Feature Film at the Vietnamese International Film Festival and the Documentary Audience Choice Award from the Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival. For more information, visit www.AgainstTheGrainProductions.com or www.TheBabylift.com.

Bringing Musical Variety to Fashion for a Passion No. 5

DALLAS, TX – As Madonna said, “Music makes the people come together.” Non-profit ATG Against The Grain Productions presents more than just art and fashion at this year’s 5th annual Fashion for a Passion. There will be four exciting new musical talents set to take the stage and perform a variety of genres, all while supporting a cause that is dear to their hearts. The charity event will take place on Saturday, October 12th from 6:30 PM – 10:00 PM at the Dallas Contemporary and will feature music by Kollaboration Dallas finalists Mijee Park, J.O. and Y.O.!, Kassy Levels (Kollaboration Dallas Winner) and Kendyl Ito (one of this year’s ATG Artistic Scholarship winners), along with a fashion runway show, live auction, art exhibit and more.

“Although the event is named Fashion for a Passion, don’t be fooled. It’s really a three-ring circus,” said President/Founder Tammy Nguyen Lee. “We wanted to bring together a diversity of Asian American artists, and music is an important component. We’re excited to have participation from our community partner, Kollaboration Dallas, as well as have the opportunity to showcase our very own Artistic Scholarship winner.” Proceeds from the evening go to benefit ATG’s supported orphanages in Asia, outreach programs and scholarship fund.

Kendyl-Ito-200x300Beauty, brains and talent is what people should think of when we mention Kendyl Ito, an 18-year-old from Sacramento, CA and one of the five ATG Artistic Scholarship Winners. She is currently a freshman studying musical theatre at Pace in New York City. When Kendyl came across ATG’s scholarship, she related to the organization from the ground up. Less than 5′ tall, petite Japanese American Kendyl is redefining color-blind casting, landing leading roles as Elle Woods in “Legally Blonde,” Sandy in “Grease,” Eve in “Children of Eden” and most recently Rosemary in “How To Succeed In Business.”

“Simply put, it is truly an honor to perform at ATG’s Fashion For A Passion event this year! It’s one thing to perform amongst an amazing group of talented artists, but to perform for a beautiful cause like this is truly heartwarming.” – Kendyl Ito

KassyLevelsPromoPicAt only 17 years-old, Kassy Levels is not just an amazing vocalist (with a range of three octaves), but a very gifted songwriter and musician from McKinney, TX. She strives to bring back the authenticity of music, with inspirations such as Beyoncé, Justin Timberlake, Alicia Keys and Jessie J. Her vocals have often been compared to several of her inspirations but after hearing her sing, her distinct, well-controlled vocals sets her apart from the rest. Half Filipina and half African-American, she made her debut in 2009 in the Dallas music scene and quickly established a name for herself among North Texas natives. She released her first album, “Storyteller,” in 2011. With her musical blend of Pop/R&B accentuated with her vocals, she has captivated her audiences by blowing away listeners not expecting such power and confident stage presence from this young a performer. She was recently honored as this year’s Kollaboration Dallas winner and is in the process of recording her sophomore album. Follow her music vlog “Street Corner Spotlight” on www.youtube.com/kassylevels.

“As a musician, I can appreciate when people give me the opportunity to share my gift with other people. I love the fact that ATG is providing an outlet for Asian fashion designers to showcase their work, all while giving back to the community! Fashion and compassion, is my kind of combination! I know that there are people who will be inspired by the Fashion for a Passion event and what they stand for!” – Kassy Levels

sadfsdfJ.O and Y.O.! form an amazing duo with their opposing styles and relentless energy. Josh is an indie pop artist who has been roaming the streets and venues of Dallas with his acoustic pop project, “The Josh Osgood Band.” Anthony Young  aka Y.O.! (who is half Thai and half African American), is an up and coming hip hop artist who regularly performs at Dallas clubs such as Plush and Aqua Lounge. He also produces for VK studios and performs regularly on local radio stations. After meeting through rather auspicious means, the two decided to combine their flavors into something special.

“J.O and YO! are always down to support the young crowd, kids that aren’t as privileged as us. We always enjoy being apart of something greater than our selves, if it be through music, art, fashion so be it. If there’s a difference to be made, we’ll make it” – J.O. and Y.O.!

a2367410437_10Mijee Park is a Korean American singer-songwriter based out of Richardson, Texas. With a mother who played piano and a father who played guitar, it only made sense for Mijee to pick up and learn from her parents. As a little girl, she sang and jammed out with her parents, started writing her own music and performing at her church choir. At 15, Mijee started working with producer Sang Ham at UG Productions, eventually performing alongside artists such as Joseph Vincent and Decipher. Outside of music, she is working on a nursing degree at the University of Texas at Austin.

“I feel so honored and blessed to be able to share my music through Fashion for a Passion. It’s awesome to know that there is honest support for local Asian American artists here in Dallas.”- Mijee Park

Tickets to Fashion for a Passion range from $50 to $100 and are on sale exclusively online at the FFAP Event Page. 

For more press/media information on the event, please contact Elizabeth Dinh or Annie Tran at pr@againstthegrainproductions.com.

ATG Against The Grain Productions, a Dallas-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, promotes Asian American cultural awareness through compelling media projects and raises funds for international orphanages. In addition to giving out annual scholarships to exemplary Asian American student leaders and those pursuing a degree in the arts, they also produced the feature documentary, Operation Babylift: The Lost Children of Vietnam, which has screened at over a dozen film festivals nationwide and received the Audience Choice Award for Best Feature Film at the Vietnamese International Film Festival and the Documentary Audience Choice Award from the Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival. For more information, visit www.AgainstTheGrainProductions.com or www.TheBabylift.com.

Emerging Asian American Fashion Designers to Present Latest Collections at Upcoming 5th Annual Fashion for a Passion Charity Event

FFAP FB Event Cover

DALLAS, TX – From swimwear to handbags and high-end women’s apparel, eight Asian American designers will present an array of unique collections at the 5th Annual Against The Grain Productions Fashion for Passion charity event. The calendar will say it’s fall, but the designers have each used inspiration and imagination to create wondrous collections for the event, which takes place from 6:30 pm – 10:00 pm on Saturday October 12, 2013 at the Dallas Contemporary in the Dallas Design District. The event features a runway show, musical entertainment, an art exhibit, live/silent auction and tasty bites and sips — all to benefit ATG’s supported orphanages, outreach programs and scholarship fund.

President/Founder Tammy Nguyen Lee is thrilled to host yet another show. “Each year, so much hard work and dedication goes into the meticulous planning of this event. Our team of volunteers is committed to creating a great evening that brings the community together to showcase incredible Asian American talent and gives them a platform to share their unique vision and voice. It’ll be an unforgettable night for Dallas and for the arts!”

Whether it’s from a veteran or a newbie presenting designer, there is a lot more to expect from this year’s line-up. All based in Texas, each designer shows true passion and spirit when they were asked what they are planning to present at Fashion for a Passion No. 5.

Nikki Duong Koenig | Cykochik Custom Handbags

2013 started out wonderfully for two-time Fashion for a Passion veteran (and ATG’s Vice President) Nikki Duong Koenig. She shared her overall goal at the beginning the year…to be able to fully launch Cykochik full-time and her dream has come true. After successfully raising a $10,000 goal via Kickstarter, she said, “I’m thrilled to celebrate Cykochik’s 10 Year Anniversary at ATG’s 5th Fashion for a Passion! I believe that everything in life has a cycle, and I’ve come full circle since presenting in 2010,” Nikki said.  “My hope for us is to achieve another milestone in fundraising,  so that we’re able to contribute more to our causes.”

Vera Wang | Viviona

This is Vera Wang’s first year as a part of Fashion for a Passion, and she’s also the show’s first ever presenting swimwear designer. Both she and ATG are anxious as to what the audience response will be to her collaboration with an architecture firm. Said Vera, “I strongly believe it will be a very positive experience showing with all the talented designers and hopefully, we will be able to follow the footsteps of the presenters in the past seasons.”

Kim Pham

From having a youthful curiosity to a mature mentality, Kim Pham returns to Fashion for a Passion now as a woman who feels her aesthetic has evolved since she presented at FFAP at the tender age of 17 when she was a senior at North Garland High School. Now 21 and a decorated graduate of UNT’s school of fashion and design, Kim said, “I’ve grown up, and I’ve thought more about the business side of fashion and thinking about how it’s marketable. I’m gearing more toward ready-to-wear, unique but more marketable pieces.” Her collection will show an Aztec influence, using gold jewelry, as well as maroon, dark brown and black colors. Additionally, fur and alligator are among the varying textures she will incorporate into her clothes.

Becky Hollands

One source of inspiration for Becky Hollands’ work right now is the theme “Diamond in the Rough.” She hopes to “really take texture and the colors and facets of rough diamonds to my collection.” With a Cantonese mother and European father, Hollands said her biracial background has really affected her perspective on everything, and in some cases, extreme perspectives. Becky described her current work as “Overall, really just playing with movement and space with the composition of my pieces.”

Danh Ta

“What will be different this year is the anticipation,” Danh Ta said. Presenting for another year in a row, Danh will unveil his Spring/Summer 2014 collection.  Danh said, “My work is [inspired by] Elizabeth Taylor’s movie, Cleopatra.  [I have] taken her iconic role as an Egyptian queen to embody strength and beauty into my next collection.”

Jerry Matthews | Nine Muses

“Last season, fall was the seductress,” Jerry Matthew said. “This season for spring, she is flirtatious,” he explained when discussing how he will showcase both seasons at the event. He returns to FFAP for a second time, although now with the new label Nine Muses, created with co-designer Francesca Viamonte. The label name is a nod to the story about the Goddess of Clarity and how she gave birth to nine muses. Each season, the designers have nine sources of inspiration; Fall 2013 includes strong women of film and pop culture, while Spring 2014 was heavily influenced by supermodels.

Cac Lam | Cac DeMode

Fashion for a Passion always seems to include a graduate from the illustrious The Art Institute of Dallas, and this year we give you Cac DeMode Designs. Based in New York, but living in Texas, Cac’s designs are like her – inspired by the fashion forward, romanticism, femininity, individuality, Eastern and Western designs. There’s no other way to describe it (or her) — eclectic and eccentric.

Hanh Dang | Lucy Dang

They say third time’s a charm, and for Hanh Dang of Lucy Dang, the third time is just as memorable as the others. From watching Hanh Dang grow from a fledgeling designer to being named Texas’ Next Top Designer to winning a $10 million contract with Belk, audience members can truly see what she is made of when she follows her heart. “The first time that I showed, we were emerging, and the second year, we were emerging, but this time around, I feel like we’ve emerged…It feels great to be a veteran,” Hanh said.

Tickets to Fashion for a Passion range from $50 to $100 and go on sale exclusively online starting Thursday, September 12th at the FFAP Event Page. 

For more press/media information on the event, please contact Elizabeth Dinh or Annie Tran at pr@againstthegrainproductions.com.

ATG Against The Grain Productions, a Dallas-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, promotes Asian American cultural awareness through compelling media projects and raises funds for international orphanages. In addition to giving out annual scholarships to exemplary Asian American student leaders and those pursuing a degree in the arts, they also produced the feature documentary, Operation Babylift: The Lost Children of Vietnam, which has screened at over a dozen film festivals nationwide and received the Audience Choice Award for Best Feature Film at the Vietnamese International Film Festival and the Documentary Audience Choice Award from the Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival. For more information, visit www.AgainstTheGrainProductions.com or www.TheBabylift.com.

###