We had the good fortune of connecting with Huyen Khanh Do and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Huyen Khanh, what habits do you feel play an important role in your life?
Oh gosh……a few really essential ones. Efficient use of time, for sure. I have to juggle visual art, music, and dance, which means planning practice time and painting time around my jobs, making sure I’m fulfilling commissions in a timely manner, following up with clients, etc. all the while, trying to balance that around work and making sure every art form has room to breathe and grow. They all sort of feed into each other, and I’ve found that the relationships between art forms have only strengthened my knowledge of how they all work. The more I create, the more I understand the creative process – what I need to hone, what strengths I can take advantage of, how my learning curve works and how I can apply it to everything I’m working on, etc. I’m constantly thinking about how I can sharpen and clarify the message I’m trying to send to my audience. Can I make this more poignant somehow, more stark, or does it have to be subtle in different ways? I’m constantly questioning myself, and my work.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I’m a little weird for an artist, because I specialize in three different art forms, as opposed to honing in on just one. For the longest time, I thought it would be music – as a classically trained pianist, the lifestyle is such that you’re expected to practice 36 hours a day, concertize, and teach. And for a while, I was doing that. But I soon realized that being shut in a tiny room with a piano for that long wasn’t enough to make me happy, so I began to explore other avenues of art – that being visual art and dance – as “hobbies”, just something to do on the side. As my skill with those forms progressed, I realized that I didn’t just want to keep them as hobbies – I wanted to bring them to the forefront as well, which was something I wrestled greatly with, during the last years of my terminal degree in music. Should I specialize only in piano, or should I diversify and see if I can somehow juggle all three? Would I be a better musician if I just spent all of my time dedicated to practicing piano? I soon realized that yes, I would be a better musician if I did that, technically, but I’d be absolutely miserable, giving up art and dance. And the more I’ve progressed, the more comfortable I’ve become, growing as a musician, artist, and dancer. Oh, and also, to anyone who’s reading: YOU CAN DO THE THING IF YOU REALLY WANT TO. Don’t let anyone or anything tell you that you can’t do the thing. If you want to do the thing, you can absolutely do it. You’re never too old. You’ll make the time. You just have to be willing to live with the fact that you’ll suck for a while at it, until one day you won’t, because you’ll have gotten good enough to be…..decently okay. And then you’ll just keep getting better. It just takes practice, perseverance, and the courage to live through a string of failures. Go on, now, chop chop.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
All right, hold on to your seats. Food: Guisados Tacos (seriously the best tacos I’ve ever had) Kogi Truck (if you can hunt it properly. Yes, you do need to actually hunt the Kogi truck.) BCD Tofu House (A nice Korean restaurant that’s open 24 hours a day?! WHAAATTT?!) Tip’s House – Thai Food (The owner is this quirky lady who is a wonderful person. They’re a family owned business, and they’re ADORABLE.) Koreatown Pizza Company (the weirdest Korean fusion pizzas ever, but damn tasty) Bea Bea’s (you’ve never had pancakes until you’ve had Bea Bea’s) Daikokuya, Shinsengumi, and Silverlake Ramen for the best ramen you’ll ever have FrankieLucy Bakery for Filipino pastries and delights Intelligensia Coffee in Silverlake Tra Space, Ding Tea, LaBobaTory, and Pearl’s Finest Teas for boba/bubble tea Sweetfin and Sugarfish for Poke Golden Deli for Pho The list just goes on. Places to visit: Botanical Gardens: Huntington, Descanso, and Los Angeles Arboretum Museums: Getty Villa, Getty Center, The Broad, MOCA, LACMA, The Museum of Jurassic Technology The Arts District ALL DEM BEACHES Los Angeles National Forest
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I HAVE SO MANY TO THANK! Ohmygoodness. My mom, first and foremost, for patiently accepting me and all of my weirdness, and for the many many lessons she took me to as a child. Nana, my godmother, for her immortal wisdom, gentle support, and endless encouragement. Jason, my dance partner and dear friend, without whom I would have never made it as far as I have in dance. Mrs. Zukerman, Alison Edwards, Joanne Ausmus-Baker, Larry Livingston, and Dr. Pierce, for their unmitigated wisdom in all things music-related, and their wonderful support. Viacheslav Kostianets and Anna Shahbazyan, for their belief and perseverance in giving the awkward turtle that I am the gift of dance. Isabella, my dragon twin, who has listened to hours upon hours of my troubles and worries with her eternally calm presence of mind, and soothing words of understanding. Brathzo Karanovic, my hermano, for being an unshakeable pillar of support. My band, Midnight Shinigami, my second family. Bill and Robin, for being my Los Angeles parents, and a source of undying love and warmth. And finally, Jacob, my Cheshire Cat, for soothing the anxiety-riddled insanity that comes out of my mind.