Tomas Vu was born in Saigon, Vietnam and at the age of ten moved with his family to El Paso, Texas. Vu received a BFA from the University of Texas, El Paso, and went on to earn an MFA from Yale University. He has been a professor at Columbia University School of the Arts since 1996 and was appointed the LeRoy Neiman Professor of Visual Arts in 2000. In 1996, Vu helped to found the LeRoy Neiman Center for Print Studies. Since its inception, he has served as Director/Artistic Director of the Neiman center.

Vu has exhibited nationally and internationally and has had solo museum shows in Japan, Italy, China, and Vietnam. He has had solo exhibitions at Milwaukee Institute for Art and Design (1998), Museum Haus Kusaya, Yokuska (2001), Centro Colombo Americano, Bogotá (2012) and the China Central Academy of Fine Arts Museum, Beijing (2015). In collaboration with Rirkrit Tiravanija as part of their series Green Go Home, Vu received a solo exhibition at Vargas Museum, Manila, in the fall of 2017. Vu is also the curator of the traveling group exhibition DRAW, which was inspired by the drawings of LeRoy Neiman and has since included over 100 artists. DRAW has had iterations in China, Serbia, and the US, and is headed to Berlin, North Carolina, and Cuba next.

Vu has received many awards including the Joan Mitchell Foundation Fellowship award (2001), Guggenheim Fellowship (2002), Sharpe-Walentas Studio Program (2015), Residency and Audience Award for Best Artist at the 30th Biennial of Graphic Arts Ljubljana (2016), the Louis Comfort Tiffany Artist Award (2017), and the Arts/Industry Residency at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center (2018). He lives and works in New York City.