Ly Thanh Le
Ly Thanh Le is a New York based illustrator and designer and pleads for manual work and a decelerating slowdown process in the design process. She loves to do things with her hands. Not only at work. Also in the kitchen. This is majorly due to her roots, which are Vietnamese, and can also be found in her contribution to the BeepEgg Character Collection, “Nori”. Nori is a special kind of seaweed used in Asian cusisine. Its silky arms harmonize perfectly with the shape of the egg. So the result is a small, functional object as charming as if it was handmade.
soft / Swan Lake
medium-soft / In the Hall of the Mountain King
hard / A Little Night Music
Ly Thanh Le
BR Ly, how would you describe the BeepEgg “Nori” in one short sentence?
LT A small, functional object as charming as if it was handmade.
BR Your Character BeepEgg is a netting of fine lines. What’s the concept behind it and what’s up with the name?
LT Eggs have an imperfect shape which is harmonious, though. When I saw seaweed in an aquarium, I thought how nice it would be if those soft and silky arms of the sea weed embraced the egg.
BR You come from a Vietnamese background. How do your roots influence your work?
LT Endless patience, the almost manic urge to do eve-rything by hand and in the end it always comes back to great food at some point…hahaha.
BR After your studies, you moved to New York. Did life in New York change you?
LT Yes, it definitely does something to me. I’m faster, more efficient and determined. I get more input and energy than in any other city I’ve lived in before New York. It’s a jungle out here, but I’m proud to be able to live and work here every day, next to these masses of talented and interesting people from all over the world.
BR You studied graphic design. How do graphic design and illustration overlap and influence each other in your work?
LT I’m moving back and forth between those two disciplines. And I take whatever I consider best to execute a project. For me, those borders are blurred lines, there is no right or wrong. I frame my playful illustrations graphically many times, though, by using clear typo or geometrical shapes.
BR Many of your illustrations are based on ink or pen drawings. What’s so fascinating about this style of drawing to you?
LT It feels…“real”. In a digital world, where everything can be deleted or copied a thousand times within nanoseconds, this to me is the only way to create something unique. With one breath. One move. It also means to slow down or decelerate in the designing process.
BR One of your passions is cooking. How come and how would you define your style of cooking?
LT If you come from a predominantly female and cooking-enthusiastic home, it is difficult not to grab the cook’s knife at some point. My family never stopped me from trying new dishes, even when I was still an infant. I can pursue my intense curiosity through my cooking. There is no ingredient or style of preparation I would not experiment with.
BR Your bachelor thesis Vietnam — a culinary identity is all about the Vietnamese cuisine. Can you tell us more about that?
LT First and foremost, it is about stories. Stories about my home, my love for it and how this love is manifested through dishes of Vietnamese cuisine. I have an emotional and sensual connection to Vietnamese cuisine and my book tries to visualise these feelings and attempts to bring that cultural treasure across to the reader. The 100 chosen recipes are a good entry into Vietnamese cuisine, once you got hungry by reading the stories.
BR You named your BeepEgg “Nori”, referring to a culinary ingredient, a special kind of seaweed. Do you frequently connect your illustrations to your cooking?
LT Not really, but it seems these things happen intuitively. I printed pineapple and tuna patterns on leather for an American shoe brand. Without knowing why. I guess cooking is the most humorous of all creative disciplines.
BR Thanks Ly!