The sketch artist.


Drawn to Ho Chi Minh City for work and to fulfil a dream that was created after backpacking Vietnam, Allan Kjaer moved to Saigon nine years ago.


Having lived in Indonesia for four years, he is originally from Denmark. His outlook on artistic expression and life in Vietnam are intertwined, creating a perspective of what it is to create in this up-and-coming part of the world.


Versatile Perspective


With a past rooted in music, Allan played in a band for many years before his creative outlet became channelled into paintings and, more recently, sketches.


“Art is a lot of things,” he says. “I appreciate many forms and some of my inspiration comes from music. I still love to paint, lots of colours, I like lots of colours when I paint. But when I draw, it’s just black and white.”


Channelling his creative energy into A3 ink drawings, the nature of his sketches means he can work anywhere — on holiday, in a café on a balcony, any place that gives him a space to create. It allows him to interact with his environment, an environment he finds to be a constant inspiration.


“The art scene [here] is growing and buzzing, but is still in the beginning stage,” he says, referencing places such as Saigon Outcast as giving people a location to meet other like-minded individuals.


“It’s people who can come and express themselves in terms of what they are wearing, what they are painting or what they are singing, or sell what they want to sell or do what they want to do. It’s this free space in the city where nobody is chasing you for being different.”


Exploration for Inspiration


One of Allan’s passions is to ride his custom-made tracker motorbike around the outskirts of the city. Listing the endless sites including dark alleyways and eyesores you see along the way, it’s a landscape that inspires him.


“It comes in waves,” he says. “There can be months where I don’t do anything in terms of sketching and paintings. It can be I’ve just been to an event or on a de-stresser bike ride, and I’m in a good mood. So I try to sketch something. When I start, I'll do five pieces at the same time, I can’t wait till the paint is dry. Then in a week or two it will calm down.”


But when it comes to his social circle, there are fewer people engaging in the same creative form as he is.


“Some play music, some show art, some do street art and graffiti, but it’s not many. I don’t have any really close friends who are into paintings,” he says.


Future Pulse


To pay the bills, Allan works in the furniture business. Product developing indoor and outdoor furniture is a job he has held for the last nine years. It allows him to engage creatively.


Despite loving his job, he hopes to cultivate a more flexible schedule to allow more time for his art. Whereas in the past he has been inclined to work alone, working with others has led to a desire to create something bigger and be a part of the process that helps young artists exhibit their work.


“I’m seeing myself working with others,” he says. “In the year to come I definitely see myself doing more with companies and creating something fun in the art scene — like pop-up art and wall art.”


He adds: “There’s a big movement for this and I’m just excited for it and the people involved.”

Photo by Mike Palumbo


To read the other articles in this series, click on the following links:


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