As a Japanese artist based in Vietnam since 1995, Saeko Ando studied Som Mai lacquer painting under the tutelage of artist Trinh Tuan, lacquer master Doan Chi Trung and lacquer craftsman Lam Huu Chinh. She has persevered in the use of natural lacquer, which has become distinctly rarer in recent times in the face of competition from artificial lacquer, ensuring the maintenance of this ancient craft in the modern era by integrating tradition with innovation.
Ando worked with a number of contemporary practitioners and master craftsmen in Hanoi, Vietnam, so as to learn a range of processes and techniques essential to the complex craft of lacquer painting, such as refining raw lacquer, producing the base for painting on, the application of gold and silver leaf, pigment and various inlay, plus sanding and polishing lacquer by hand. In 2000, her expertise in the art was recognised and was given the honour of being accepted as the first foreign member of the Hanoi Art Association.
For the past 20 years, she has been creating and exhibiting within Vietnam and overseas. She also works as a researcher on lacquer art in Asian countries including Japan, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam, and shares research findings with the public through various lectures and symposia.