Queen Honours Artist for Hand-Coloured Posters

Due to the current fast development of the printing industry, which ensures a quick turnaround time, the tradition of painting advertisement posters by hand has faded. With more than 30 years of painting advertisement posters, Nguyen The Minh, pen-named Hoai Minh Phuong, who is now living on An Duong Vuong street, Tan Binh district in Ho Chi Minh City is one of very few painters producing their posters by hand.


Phuong, a skilled painter, reminisces about his early days as a secondary school student. It was during this time that he first encountered the renowned artist, Hoa Hue, passionately creating his masterpieces along Phan Dinh Phung street. Enthralled by the artist’s captivating work, Phuong eagerly became his protégé. Subsequently, Phuong had the privilege of receiving invaluable guidance and mentorship from acclaimed painter, Vu Trong Hop. Through these experiences, Phuong honed his artistic abilities and eventually emerged as a distinguished painter in his own right.

Before the emergence of advanced techniques and technology, Phuong used to hand-draw addresses, advertisements, and logos for various clients who would commission his services. Despite facing challenging weather conditions, Phuong would travel across the city, its districts, and suburban areas, armed with his painting kit, to fulfill his clients’ needs.

Nguyen The Minh, also known as Hoai Minh Phuong, is a unique artist who continues to create his posters using traditional hand-drawn techniques. He currently resides on An Duong Vuong street, Tan Binh district, Ho Chi Minh City. Photograph by Nguyen Luan for VNP.

Phuong’s second son accompanies him on his motorbike to work. Nguyen Luan/VNP

Phuong’s Paints. Photo by Nguyen Luan/VNP

Phuong painting an advertisement banner for a mechanic’s shop. Nguyen Luan/VNP

Over the past years, there has been a rise in the popularity of electronic signboards over hand-painted ones, resulting in a decrease in demand for Phuong’s services. Despite this, Phuong remains dedicated to his craft, catering to customers who admire his talent and value the artistic nature of his work. These customers specifically request unique signboards for their establishments, favoring the individuality that comes from handcrafted pieces as opposed to those manufactured using high-tech methods. Furthermore, they appreciate Phuong’s warm and amiable personality. While working, Phuong often recites poems or shares stories pertaining to ethics, particularly inspiring for younger individuals.

About Phuong

Aside from his impressive painting skills, Phuong also possesses a deep and abiding passion for poetry, a love that has been with him since childhood. A unique aspect of his artistic process is his willingness to incorporate lines from his own poems into his captivating artwork.


Here are some of Phuong’s finished works:

Anti-rust paint provides long-lasting protection for the board, with certain varieties lasting up to seven years. – Nguyen Luan/VNP

Prior to completing a project, Phuong takes steps to ensure the longevity of the board by applying an anti-rust paint to its surface. This not only prevents rusting but also enhances its overall durability. In case the colors start fading over time, Phuong can easily restore the board’s appearance by washing and repainting it.

Among Phuong’s three sons, only Nguyen The Quang, his second son, has chosen to follow in his father’s footsteps by pursuing a career in hand-painted signboards and advertisement posters.

Story: Son Nghia – Photos: Nguyen Luan