Michelle Nguyen is a mixed-race Vietnamese American comic illustrator based in Portland, Oregon. Nguyen grew up in Southern California, splitting her time between Riverside and Garden Grove before moving to Portland, Oregon, when she was fourteen years old. She attended Tualatin High School and the University of Puget Sound before transferring to Portland State University to complete her degrees in fine art and in Japanese. Now a comic book illustrator, Nguyen has worked on publications such as the Grumpy Cat comics and currently illustrates The Underfoot, a young readers series. Her art and anthology contributions have also won several awards, including the 2017 Ignatz Award and the 2018 Eisner Award. In addition to illustration, Nguyen also works at the Portland-based comic publishing company Oni Press as an associate publisher.

In this interview, Nguyen starts by talking about where she attended school and how she became interested in comics. She goes on to discuss the recent anthology her work was featured in, ELEMENTS: Fire, a collection of work by creators of color, and what being recognized in this anthology as a creator of color meant to her as a mixed-race Vietnamese American. Nguyen also discusses a typical day in her life as both a freelance illustrator and an associate publisher at Oni Press. She then shares about her childhood living in California and Oregon, her ties to the Vietnamese community through her father and grandmother, and her current hopes to become more involved in Portland’s Vietnamese community by studying the language and learning more about the culture. At the end of the interview, Nguyen talks about her father and his family’s experience as Vietnamese immigrants, as well as the generational differences and social issues facing the Vietnamese community today.