Nguyet’s colorful and clean yet whimsical designs have supported a range of coffee and tea companies in the Portland, Ore., area.
BY EMILY JOY MENESES
SPECIAL TO BARISTA MAGAZINE ONLINE
Photos courtesy of Nguyet Bui
It’s always a pleasure to feature women of color making strides in the coffee industry, and for today’s installment of “Coffee & Design,” our sights are set on Nguyet Bui (she/her): a talented graphic designer whose colorful, whimsical, and beautifully detailed artwork has supported One Stripe Chai, Capitola Coffee, Green Bridge Coffee, and more entities. Read on to learn about Nguyet, her start as a designer, and how she keeps her creative wheels turning.
Emily: Hi, Nguyet! It’s so great meeting you. I’m absolutely in love with your artwork. To start, can you tell us a bit about your art? Are you primarily a graphic designer, or do you dabble in different mediums? And what first drew you to becoming a graphic designer?
Nguyet: Hi! My name is Nguyet Bui and I am a graphic designer based in Portland, Ore. I like to explore different mediums to initiate brainstorming and develop inspiration, but graphic design is my medium. Growing up, my parents encouraged me to be creative, and throughout my childhood, I found that art was the most enjoyable and freeing for me. In high school, I had the opportunity to take graphic design classes, and it helped me realize I could pursue it as a career.
How do you get inspiration for the artwork you create? And what sorts of things do you like to do to get in a creative mindset?
It’s cliché to say, but I find inspiration everywhere. From nature to books, film, packaging, music, fashion, experiences—there is something you can borrow from everywhere and anything. To get in a creative mindset, I keep it simple with a pen and paper. I write out every idea that comes to mind as fast as I can and then I sit with the list, circle the ones I’m most curious about, and either sketch it out or go online to find a visual to match. It’s a fun way to see what comes to mind and then challenge myself to push the idea further.
Your work for One Stripe Chai is absolutely beautiful! I love how many elements of nature are included in your work. Would you say nature is a big inspiration for you (especially living in Oregon)?
Ah, thank you so much for your kind words. Absolutely. I moved here from the Midwest a little over five years ago and just fell in love with PNW scenery. It’s so nice to be close to the mountains and the coast if I ever need a quick getaway. Nature is very important to me, and when given the opportunity to produce relative work, I am the most excited about it.
What sorts of hobbies do you have outside of designing? Are you a big coffee or tea drinker yourself? I see you’ve worked with multiple coffee companies, which is awesome! Would you say your style naturally lends itself to creating for coffee companies?
Oh, hobbies—for the past few years I’ve been trying to start hobbies because I realized I am a workaholic and design has become a huge part of my identity. I do like to go on hikes, bike around town, and I’ve started gardening, which has been very therapeutic.
I only drink tea—my body can’t handle drinking coffee, but I do appreciate the aroma and all the effort that goes into making coffee. I would agree my style is very adaptable and works well with coffee/tea companies due to its nature; however, becoming a coffee/tea designer was a happy accident. I was looking for a new opportunity at the time, and fortunately I surrounded myself with motivated entrepreneurs and business owners. Through that, I’ve been able to develop relationships with the people behind the companies on a professional and personal level and I am so grateful for it.
What advice would you have to young artists who want to turn their passion into a career?
My advice would be: Follow your intuition and do what feels right for you. I also think it’s very important to build and take care of your relationships with your network and community—it can take time, but you never know where it could take you. Plus, it’s always nice to have a support system rooting you on.
My other advice would be: Take advantage of the opportunities that come your way. It’s OK to say “no,” but try to have an open mind. The opportunities out there can surprise you.
Anything else you’d like to share about yourself?
I want to thank you for taking the time to get to know me and my work. This past year was exhausting and scary, and it still is—but I am trying to be hopeful for our future. It’s a humbling experience to take the time to reflect and realize that I am very happy where I am today. Thank you again.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Based in Los Angeles, Emily Joy Meneses (she/her) is a writer and musician passionate about culture and collective care. You can regularly find her at Echo Park Lake, drinking a cortado and journaling about astrology, art, Animal Crossing, and her dreams. Explore her poetry, short stories, and soundscapes on her website.