Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Iowa resident spreads Kingdom’s history, culture through digital art



Iowa resident spreads Kingdom’s history, culture through digital art

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Armed with only his two computer screens and Photoshop, 32-year-old Soun Vincent has now created many amazing pictures that have gone viral on Facebook, and he is celebrated back home for helping to spread Cambodian culture globally. The self-taught artist has produced some 45 pieces of digital art since 2014. supplied

Iowa resident spreads Kingdom’s history, culture through digital art

Growing up in poverty, Soun Vincent never had an opportunity to properly sharpen his talents through a formal art education.

But this has not stopped the instinctive, self-taught Cambodian artist – who now lives in Des Moines, the state capital of Iowa in the US – from developing his talents over the years, from his roots in painting to his work now in the burgeoning world of digital animation.

Born in 1987 to a poor family in Oddor Meanchey province’s Banteay Ampil district, Vincent was the oldest son of the three children.

With the Kingdom still enduring civil war in the border regions – including in Vincent’s own province – his family was forced to move frequently to escape the turmoil when he was a young boy.

Despite none of his family members having any interest in art, the young Vincent found refuge from his turbulent upbringing through his pencils, as he illustrated the escapist wonders of his imagination on paper.

“I’ve loved painting since I was 11 years old. After school I would spend most of my free time learning how to draw on my own,” Vincent tells The Post.

His dreams of pursuing art formally at the Royal University of Fine Arts in Phnom Penh were scuppered as his family struggled to subsist on their meagre livelihood. Instead, he earned money to support his family after a painter from a local gallery offered him a job and informal training when he saw Vincent’s potential as an artist.

“From 2005 to 2006 I worked at an art gallery, this is where I learned more about oil painting with direction from an elder painter called Mok Ravy,” he says.

In 2009, Vincent married and decided to start a completely new life from scratch in Des Moines. With the higher cost of living in the US, Vincent was forced to give up his painting.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
32-year-old Soun Vincent has now created many amazing pictures that have gone viral on Facebook. Supplied

But his artistic flair could not be contained for long, so in 2014, when his life in the US stabilised, he began taking an interest in Youtube videos explaining digital art.

“Starting in 2014, I began spending a lot of time learning about digital arts from Youtube – mostly because it’s easier and I don’t need to spend much money on supplies,” he says.

Armed with only his two computer screens and Photoshop, the 32-year-old has now created many amazing illustrations that have gone viral on Facebook, and is celebrated back home for helping spread Cambodian culture globally.

Since 2014, he has produced some 45 pieces of digital art. Whenever he shares these pieces on social media, they receive a hugely positive response he says. This, Vincent adds, has made him finally feel like a true artist.

“I started painting on my own in 2001, but I never felt or considered myself to be a true painter at all. That is until this year after I’ve begun receiving so much love and support from everyone.

“A lot of people support my artwork every time I post on Facebook, that’s what has motivated me to try and do a lot of research for more ideas,” says Vincent, whose work is inspired by the Angkor Empire – which dates from the 9th to the 15th century CE.

One of his pieces portrays the great ancient Angkor warriors with armour, shields, spears and archery bows. It took him 32 hours to complete.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
One of Vincent’s pieces portrays the great ancient Angkor warriors with armour, shields, spears and archery bows. It took him 32 hours to complete. supplied

“My main aim is to provide new creations that show the action and outfits from the Angkor period that other artists haven’t done yet. I mostly focus on the Angkor period, I love to draw about what happened during that time.”

For research, Vincent has made trips to Siem Reap province to study the Angor Watt temple carvings. He has also carefully sampled the clothing and jewellery from that time to make his digital illustrations engaging.

“I hope Cambodian people know about this era. Even though the accessories might not be totally accurate, it is a picture that shows our culture back in ancient times. We will gradually lose it bit by bit if we don’t recreate it and show people our historical and cultural heritage,” he says.

But despite the significant time investment he places into his hobby, Vincent does not hesitate to share his work with the public for free.

“I don’t really earn anything from this to be honest, but it’s ok, I have a job that gives me enough to support my family already. I do this to entertain myself and spread Cambodian culture abroad,” he says.

MOST VIEWED

  • Typhoon Noru brings flash floods – 16 dead

    An official warned that that the 16th typhoon of the season, Noru, had brought heavy rains to areas the Mekong River and flooded thousands of homes in the provinces bordering Thailand. As of September 27, the death toll from the flooding had risen to 16. National Committee

  • All Covid restrictions for inbound travellers lifted

    Cambodia has apparently taken the final step towards full reopening of the country without Covid-19 restrictions by removing all requirements for inbound travellers, who until now had to show health certificates indicating that they have tested Covid-19 negative in the past 72 hours as well as

  • Defence minister reaffirms Kingdom’s staunch support for One-China policy

    Minister of National Defence General Tea Banh has reaffirmed Cambodia’s unwavering support for the One-China policy. Tea Banh was speaking at the September 20 ceremonial handover of 117 vehicles and other military equipment donated by China’s defence ministry, held at Phnom Chumreay International Military Training

  • Thai Senate delegates in Cambodia to discuss anti-graft co-op

    A delegation from Thailand's Senate was in Phnom Penh on September 28 to meet their Cambodian counterparts to discuss strategies for fighting corruption and enhancing cooperation. The Thai delegates were from its Senate’s Committee on Studying and Inspecting Corruption, Misconduct and Strengthening Good Governance. They

  • Mushrooming borey projects and home financing – a cause for concern?

    A spurt in housing developments is typically a sign of a growing economy but underneath all that might lay some anxiety of credit growth as developers offer financing to buyers at higher rates, an activity the central bank identifies as ‘shadow banking’ Earlier this year,

  • Textile industry minimum wage now $200

    The official minimum wage for workers in textile-related sectors including garment, footwear, and travel goods for 2023 was pegged at $198, with Prime Minister Hun Sen stepping in to add $2 to the total, making it $200 per month. The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training made the announcement