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Vietnamese stamp designer Vo Luong Nhi (April 21, 2003)
"Nhiís designs of ao dai impressively reflect the beauty of Vietnamese women"
|Waxing philatelic: Vo Luong Nhi|
by Ngan Binh
Vietnamese stamp designer Vo Luong Nhi got a pleasant surprise during a holiday in Venice.
She was browsing through a book shop when she came across a table featuring stamps for sale and saw a set she had designed in 1990.
The stamps featured Vietnamese women wearing different styles of ao dai (long traditional dress), a series which had been one of Nhiís favourite projects.
The 42-year-old recalls how delighted she was to stumble across her paintings so far from home.
"With my works recognised, itís really a boost to my confidence," she says.
"It encourages me to continue incorporating liberal fine arts into the rigid frame of stamp design."
After graduating from the Industrial Fine Art College in 1984, Nhi took up a job as a cartographer at the Ha Noi Land and House Management Department. She stayed there for two years before landing a job at the Viet Nam Stamp Company as a designer.
|Colours of Mountain. 1999 Oil on canvas, 90cm x 90cm|
Pursuing her interests
The set of stamps displayed in the Italian shop featured variations on the traditional ao dai style.
Nhi is so passionate about Viet Namís traditional dress that she has also painted a series of oils echoing her stamp designs.
And in 1999, after spotting a new style of ao dai made from brocade and velvet, she created a second series of stamps.
"They look so attractive while still retaining the old characteristics Ė I like them very much," she says.
"Many artists have successfully designed stamps of women in ao dai, so I try to avoid repetition and imitation, or re-creating my own designs.
"Itís a painstaking process to complete a series design. We need to consider every little detail and be as creative as possible.
"When designing the second set of stamps in 1999, I poured all my efforts into ensuring they were different from my 1990 designs."
Nguyen Dung Nghi, a stamp collector since 1960, said she is a fan of Nhiís stamps, particularly of her 1999 ao dai series and 1991 poisonous fungi series.
"Nhiís designs of women wearing ao dai, use drawings which are soft, light and fresh, and impressively reflect the beauty of Vietnamese women," Nghi said.
"Vietnamese girls in Nhiís stamps look modern but timeless at the same time."
Nghi, once worked in the stamp companyís customer service department said most foreigners liked stamps which incorporated Vietnamese symbols such as the ao dai.
For the past 14 years, Nhi has created 200 broad-ranging stamp designs, many of which have proved a hit with philatelists.
Her human, fauna and flora illustrations have been the most successful and account for nearly half of her creations.
"Nhi has built up her own style and many of her stamps have won annual awards. Her works are sought by stamp collectors and are appreciated by stamp users as well," said Tran Le from the Society of Philatelists of Viet Nam, which was founded in 1960.
"She works hard by studying books and observing the facts to come up with new and beautiful angles for her designs," Le said.
He cited Nhiís stamps of poisonous fungi, flower-shaped mushrooms and Asian birds as some of his favourites.
Huynh Ngoc Ly, a keen collector, said he was pleased to see Nhiís 1990 ao dai series displayed in a Paris shop alongside others from countries with long histories of stamp production.
He was also warmed to hear the French salespeople note how attractive the ao dai looked and the number of visitors who crowded around to get a good look at the pictures.
Ly has also seen Nhiís 1999 series displayed in a philatelic shop in Hong Kong. When he asked the shop owner how much the stamps cost he was told they were not for sale.
The next challenge on Nhiís drawing board is a new set of stamps to commemorate Viet Namís hosting of the SEA Games in December this year.
Judging from her track record, she will have little trouble coming up with an eye-catching idea. ó VNS
Reprinted with permission from Vietnam News Agency
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