Doan Ngoc Duy, an RMIT Vietnam alumnus and Creative Director of the Vietnam – Australia Mural Village, is living his dream as an art and design specialist and lecturer while contributing his expertise to the community.
Creative design for the community
During his three years at the University, he regularly took the initiative to participate in volunteer work, where he contributed his knowledge and skills to the local community.
Doan Ngoc Duy is a familiar name to organisations like Adobe Youth Voices, Huynh Tan Phat Foundation and Smile Group. With these groups, Duy shared his design and filmmaking knowledge with disadvantaged kids and young creative enthusiasts.
After graduation, with his skills and ability to lead, Duy was soon assigned to managerial roles in his workplaces including PNJ, KOVA, MullenLowe, and Mirum.
Though busy with projects, the young Creative Director maintains his promise to support community programs like Gop tinh trao Tet by Unilever, and Narrow the Gap by the LIN Center for Community Development.
Recently, Duy completed his role as the Creative Director of the Australia - Vietnam Mural Village in Cao Lanh, Dong Thap Province, a community art project funded by the Australian Embassy in Vietnam.
The murals were conceptualised by Duy and collaboratively designed along with university students and young artists in Ho Chi Minh City.
Thirty artists from Australia and Vietnam then painted the murals onto 800m2 of wall area along the Tien River in Tan Tich Hamlet, Tinh Thoi Commune, Cao Lanh.
“[In these murals] we wanted to achieve an ingenious blend of traditional beauty, some modern twists, and daily life moments of the residents,” Duy said of his idea behind the Mural Village.
“This project is also an opportunity for art students and professional artists in Vietnam and from other countries to experiment with community art.”
With the new Cao Lanh Bridge across the Tien River opening recently, residents in the Mural Village can now also welcome a brand-new look for their hometown.
“Creative direction is not simply about coming up with new ideas or designing beautiful products, but also about communicating these ideas, listening to feedback, working with each other to improve the ideas and turning them into something that will benefit the community,” Duy explained.
Spreading creative passion to younger generations
Duy has also realised his dream of becoming an educator who can nurture the creativity of new generations.
In 2013, the young man first became a visiting lecturer at the Ho Chi Minh City University of Fine Arts, then at Hoa Sen University and FPT University. He currently lectures at the Ho Chi Minh City University of Architecture.
During his first year of teaching, he had to work in the daytime and spend an hour in traffic on the way to evening classes.
“Many people asked why I worked so hard to keep two jobs, when my daytime job pays well,” Duy recalled.
“I never considered teaching a part-time job to make more money. I dreamt of being a lecturer so that I can help to cultivate [creativity in] young generations. With that in mind, despite the challenges, I never find it tiring.”
Duy encourages his students to continuously immerse themselves in cultural, historical and social knowledge in order to create meaningful designs.
He is also devoted to applying service learning to his courses. Duy connects students with real-world projects, for example supporting the deaf community or campaigning for natural resource preservation. This allows them to learn through practical experience and use design to contribute to their community while still in university.
“Like other educators, I try my best when teaching in the hope that I can foster strong capabilities and professional values in the young generation. Hopefully, the creative industry in Vietnam will achieve sustainable growth,” Duy shared.
Story: Le Thanh Phuong