June 23, 2016 ContraBean

Saigon Street Artist: Daos/ Part 1

As one of Saigon’s leading street artists, Daos has never stopped creating and spreading awareness of the form—even in the face of career breakdowns, military conscription, and the all too real need to pay rent.

He was 16 years old when he first thought about giving up art. Comics he’d been drawing his classmates got the attention of a Japanese studio and they wanted Daos to join them as a full­-time artist.

It was a dream come true for a life­long Magna geek, but one that would have meant leaving school, and his parents didn’t allow it. The disappointment of having to turn that down left him questioning everything he thought he wanted—thought he’d been working for. He might have given up art then, he said, had another ­­less professional ­­offer not come his way.


“A classmate came up to me and said ‘Hey, are you Daos? I want to start a graffiti crew, are you down for this?’ So I said ‘Okay, yes.’ But his face looked like a gangster so I was a little bit scared. But, he was really nice, so we started our first crew.”

It was his first time doing graffiti outside of the school bathroom and a chance to master the basics: lettering, coloring, and running from security guards. This is when he stole the dog.

But for all the effort he was putting into this new art, and the movement he saw maturing in Europe and the U.S., what little community there had been in Saigon was dying. Good cans weren’t available and everyone he knew was quitting.

“I felt so disappointed. I tried to quit graffiti but I couldn’t. I figured out it was more than a hobby. It’s a part of my life.”

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