I was born on 03 Dec 1971 in Saigon, Viet Nam, and three and a half years later, I immigrated to the United States with my father, mother, sister and one aunt. I grew up in Gaithersburg, Maryland and attended Gaithersburg High School, where I graduated in 1989.
Shortly thereafter, my family moved to Orange County, California, and I attended Otis College of Art and Design. There, I majored in communication design with a focus on illustration, but by the time I graduated in 1993, I had already decided to become a graphic designer. In the years following, I worked in traditional print design, but in 1998 I moved to New York and began practicing design almost exclusively for the Web and other interactive media.
In 2001, I joined several colleagues from my previous employer (who shuttered their design operation in that year’s market downturn) in founding Behavior, a design studio. I helped manage and run the company for four very successful years, and I left on good terms on 31 Dec 2005.
In 2006, I became Design Director for NYTimes.com where I built and led a team of world class user experience designers and remade the way design is practiced at The New York Times. I have written extensively about my largely positive experiences at this singular institution in the archives. Of particular note are my departure announcement from July 2010 and some thoughts on why I left.
In early 2011, I co-founded Lascaux Co.. In November, we launched Mixel for iPad, the world’s first social collage app. Its goal is to empower creative self-expression for new audiences and users everywhere. It’s free, available on the App Store.
I’m currently in a very happy relationship with Laura Holder. We’re living in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn with our young daughter Thuy Esme Holder-Vinh, who was born in August 2009, and our dog Mister President, a black Labrador-mix that I adopted in December 2002.
I’ve owned the domain Subtraction.com since 1997. In its first few incarnations, it served as a portfolio and a venue for me to showcase my non-commercial design work. In December 2000, I added a weblog using Blogger as a publishing tool. In April 2003, I converted the site to the Movable Type publishing platform and began writing posts of more significant length. In September 2008, I replaced Movable Type with Expression Engine.
I make an effort to reply to every email sent to me directly, and I’m always happy to hear from readers. I much prefer mail sent directly to this domain, and usually don’t check, much less answer, email sent to me via Facebook or other social networks.