Through simple yet poignant images, graphic artist Lê Duy Nhất revisits the rivalry between Vietnam’s two great cities Star Trek or Star Wars ? Creation or evolution? Spider Man or Batman? iOS or Android? Thanks to budding graphic artist, Lê Duy Nhất, 25, there’s now buzz around the greatest local eternal debate: Hà Nội or Sài Gòn?

    Born in Thanh Hóa, 136 km south of Hanoi, Nhất moved to Sài Gòn at the age of 18 to attend university. Armed with a degree in IT, it didn’t take long for him to discover that he didn’t like working with hardware. “I love images. Even TV commercials and advertising posters speak to me.” So it was back to graphics design school.

    For his final project, Nhất created a whimsical book outlining the differences between Hà Nội and Sài Gòn, highlighting cuisine, dress, daily habits and work culture. “I love traveling and wanted to work with the theme of Vietnamese culture. The idea came from reading an online forum where people argued which region was better – the north or south. But it was very biased. So I wanted to make a pictorial comparison but with a narrower scope of just Hà Nội and Sài Gòn. As someone who’s lived in the north and the south, I based the book on my own observations, asked familymembers and did a lot of research on YouTube and read articles.”

    The product was a 31 page book which Nhất uploaded onto Behance, an online platform to showcase and discover creative work. Picked up by websites, blogs and media, the simple,poignant illustrations have gone viral. Within a week, more than 20,000 people had viewed his book. “My purpose in uploading my work was to find prospective employers. I wrote it in English because I wanted my foreign teacher to be able to read it. I didn’t think about monetizing it or securing rights to it.”

    The images obviously resonate with viewers. “I think people yearn for traditional culture. People also like to compare things. 80 to 90 percent of the comments have been positive. People have given me lots of compliments and also some suggestions to fix the spelling and grammar. People also comment on their own observations. I think people who live in Sài Gòn but go to Hà Nội for business really get my work.”

    Nhất is currently interning as a graphic artist but has plans to make more books, with topics ranging from teenage slang to more on the differences between north and south. T-shirts are also in the works as is getting the book published.

    On future projects, he says: “I want to make something to help first-time visitors better understand Vietnamese culture. I feel Vietnamese culture is like a gold mine that hasn’t been fully excavated. If foreigners can come to Vietnam and write books for other foreigners about Vietnamese culture, why can’t we?”  When asked which city he prefers, Nhất answers coyly, “Every place has its own characteristics. You can live anywhere as long as you’re happy.”


    Published 26/11/2013 Viewed 1820 Category ASK
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