Alumni News





Andrew Hem grew up poised in the balance between two cultures: the rural animistic society of his Khmer ancestors, and the dynamic urban arts of the tough Los Angeles neighborhood where his family eventually came to live. Fascinated by graffiti at an early age, he honed his skills with graphics and composition on the walls of the city before following his passion to Santa Monica College, and eventually to a degree in illustration from Art Center College of Design.

With his background in street art, Hem decided to take his very first art class at SMC in figure drawing.

“It was an easy transition for me. Before that I only did graffiti, and I mainly did lettering,” says Hem, explaining why he decided to focus his education on fine art. “It was easy for me to change to figure drawing because of the shapes and cylinders in graffiti.” He is very grateful to Professor Trujillo, as well as many other SMC professors that were dedicated to encouraging him to perfect his craft.

The drawing classes Andrew took at SMC helped him reach the level of professionalism he is at now, because it gave him the strong drawing background that was necessary to strengthen his painting. After earning an associate degree, Andrew transferred to study at Art Center in Pasadena. Today, he works in gouache, oil and acrylic, and his haunting impressions of culture and landscape evoke the life of the spirit through the visionary manifestation of memories and dreams.

Over the nine years since his graduation from Santa Monica College and Art Center with a B.F.A. in Illustration, Andrew Hem has exhibited in venues worldwide, from Museums such as Portsmouth Museum of Art in New Hampshire, Honolulu Museum of art school, Fort Wayne Museum, Worcester art museum and Oakland Museum of California. He has also had solo and group exhibitions in Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, San Diego, Seattle, Portland, Nashville, Miami, Toronto, Zurich, Berlin, and Lecce, Italy.

He has flown across the world doing murals in Germany, Colombia, Brazil, Chile, and Australia. He has lectured at Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles, Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, Ringling College of Art and Design in Florida, Transylvania University in Lexington, California State University of Northridge, and Rio laboratorio in Colombia. His personal work has been featured in Beyond Illustration, the Society of Illustrators annual, Communication Arts, Spectrum, American Illustration, 3x3, Swallow and Hi-Fructose, among others, and his illustration clients have included Apple Inc., EBay Inc., Sony, TBWA, 42 entertainment, Scholastic, Geo Photoredaktion, DPI, St. Anthony Messenger, Three Legged Legs, Matchbox Studios, Weekly Reader, Chicago Time out, The Atlantic, New Scientist, the Los Angeles Times, Adidas and Lucky Brand Jeans. He lives and works in Los Angeles.

He was also one of ten artists to be invited to the White House for a celebration of American Art.

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