Khanh Tran Follows Her Art to Minnesota

Khanh Tran
Khanh Tran Follows Her Art to Minnesota

Vietnamese native excels in Applied Visual Arts

Khanh Tran, 21, has aspired to be an accomplished artist for as long as she can remember. Born and raised in Thu Duc, an urban district northeast of Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon), the largest city in Vietnam with a population of 8.2 million, Khanh has enjoyed drawing from the time she was a little girl. She also knew that she might have to look overseas for more advanced training in her chosen field.

“Studies in the arts and design are not very common in Vietnam,” she said. “I decided to start searching for colleges in the United States.”

Luckily, her aunt and uncle reside in Apple Valley, Minn. They sent her a list of colleges to check out. She watched a video about the Applied Visual Arts program at Dakota County Technical College and was sold on the idea of enrolling. In 2010, the same year she graduated from her local high school, Khanh applied at DCTC and was accepted. She promptly picked up her life and moved to Minnesota.

“I live with my grandmother in Rosemount,” she said, adding that her mom and sister live in San Jose, Calif. She comes from a large, very supportive family. She had a yellow cat in Vietnam called Cat. “My cousin, Nhan Phan, also lives with us. He is studying engineering at Inver Hills Community College.”

Applied Visual Arts at DCTC prepares you for a career in commercial art and design. A unique combination of courses combines digital art techniques with the techniques of traditional drawing and painting. You will learn leading-edge software, including the best from Adobe and Corel. You will become versed in the design process, exploring, planning, designing and producing visual solutions to communications problems. You will acquire a foundation in art techniques, design principles, creative problem solving, concept development, illustration, typography and layout while creating your own works of art. When you graduate, you will have the skills you need to land an entry-level position in the commercial art field while gaining new employment opportunities in a number of related industries, including marketing, publishing, advertising and animation.

Khanh’s grandmother speaks very little English and Khanh herself needed to greatly improve her English-speaking skills when she first arrived in the U.S., having studied only English grammar and listening at her high school. Naturally soft-spoken, she now speaks English fluently while still thinking in Vietnamese. She admits that she often mixes the two languages in conversation.

Khanh finds much of her artistic influence in manga, or Japanese comics, and anime, or Japanese animation. Both manga and anime are hugely popular in Japan and many other countries around the world. Khanh’s favorite anime works are My Neighbor Totoro and Whisper of the Heart; her favorite manga works are Monster and Billy Bat.

As an international student, Khanh has adapted well to life on an American college campus. She finds the environment at DCTC exceptionally welcoming. Her fellow students are friendly—and her instructors are unexpectedly gracious and approachable. She noted that teachers in Vietnam are typically stern and remote. Students keep their distance and personal interaction is discouraged.

Khanh also enjoys how she has access to the latest iMacs and newest creative software programs. She is already adept at Adobe Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator. She especially likes using Corel Painter, digital art software that simulates real-world art materials, noting how Gwen Partin, her instructor, taught her how to use a tablet and pen with Painter to add another dimension to her art.

Mora and Nina by Khanh Tran

Looking forward to graduating fall 2014 with her A.A.S. degree in Applied Visual Arts, Khanh is making plans to work as a professional graphic designer and illustrator. Her goal is to earn enough money to move to Japan and develop a manga style all her own. She pointed out that Vietnam imports manga and does not create comics independently with a direct link to its own culture. She would like to change that. In 10 years time, she sees herself as a successful manga artist and children’s book illustrator. She has a book in the works already, Nina and Mora, the story of a young girl and a firefly.

Khanh Tran Art Gallery

For more information about Applied Visual Arts at DCTC, contact:
  • Gwen Partin
    Applied Visual Arts Instructor