My name is Viet Nguyen and I'm a 21 year old miniature figure painter. I've been painting since I was 12 years old. Over the course of almost 10 years, I've painted thousands of figures and this website is an attempt to catalog my work.
In addition to painting, I am also a full time student at the University of Texas. I have a day job in Marketing and on the weekends I DJ Korean and Japanese music in nightclubs around the country. All my extra time is spent painting.
When I have 12 years old, on a trip to Belgium, my aunt game me a catalog for Warhammer models. At the time I had thought them just to be cool looking action figures but when she took me to a Gamesworkshop, I remember being amazed at how tiny all the figures were. I knew immediately that I wanted to make my life about this.
However, I didn't walk out with any figures that day. My parent had objected to the investment of paints and of course the price of the actual models. They believed I would drop this hobby as quick as I forgot about my other toys. As soon as I returned to the States, I bought a set of cheap paint from the dollar store and a bag of green plastic army men. On my fourteenth birthday after painting hundreds of "Imperial Guardsmen," my aunt sent me a box of Empire Spearment and a set of Citadel paints. The rest is history.
Soon after my first forays into the Warhammer 40,00 universe, I learned that my meager allowance of $5 a week for mowing the lawn wasn't going to fund an army worthy of doing battle in the name of the Emperor. On my first trip to a Gamesworkshop store with some of my painted figures, my friend suggested I start commission painting. He had me paint 10 Elves from the Lord of the Rings game in exchange for an old Leman Russ. When I returned with the models a few weeks later I got my first paid commission - an entire army of Chaos Space Marines.
Fast forward a few years to high school and I had my own little studio with my brother doing assembly and some friends that would come over to paint for some extra cash. A lot of them worked at nail salons and miniature painting was a natural fit for them. I also had half a dozen artists I met online that would take projects that my studio couldn't handle. However, all good things come to an end and after high school we all went our separate ways and my parents made me stop painting to focus on my studies. The company was handed off to one of our contracted painters who ran off with the money and models. I spent a good portion of the money I had saved up for college and sold of almost all of my personal paintings to refund clients.
For two years I did not touch a paintbrush. Originally I had planned to get back into painting once I settled in university but I was burned out from 8-12 hour painting sessions from high school and more importantly I felt like the painting community would not accept me back because of the reputation my name had with defaulted commissions.
For those two years I considered picking up a brush again many times and eventually I just did. I started again anonymously and choose the name Sensei Swag. I choose that name because I wanted to use something bold but wasn't meant to be taken seriously since after all it was just for fun. Not long after painting again, I am doing commission work again. And besides my brother who occassionally does assembly, it's all me.