I arrived in Hong Kong nearly four years ago to the day. Not knowing what to expect from the local art scene, I was taken aback by the lack of local artists exhibiting and art in general. Art felt confined to stuffy galleries focused on the Chinese art boom rather than the local Hong Kong scene. There was a fragrant smell of money over creativity and a definite VIP status. Meanwhile, my senses were attacked from all angles in the streets, strange smells, neon signs and the noise of the hustle and bustle left me wanting to see more expression from the local scene.
I obviously wasn't the only person to feel this way and in meeting some like-minded folk we started to create, bemuse and amuse people. Our intention was to create and exhibit with humour and honesty. By using local traditional Hong Kong spaces, we held pop art shows that ran for one night only. It was from this beginning that I was inspired to push on through and ride the wave without looking back.
Hong Kong, the place that knows your plans ahead of your own thoughts, opened up its doors of opportunity. My focus and intention was to collaborate with people living here, to share experiences and create for my need to express and for the amusement of the people in my adopted city.
In such a small community, it's not so hard to forge your own opportunities in showcasing your talents but the challenge lies in keeping people interested. I was lucky enough to have my first collaborative show at Above Second, now a very popular and successful street-art-inspired gallery with three other local artists under the theme of ‘juxtapose’.
Business cards were made, stickers and art were stamped on street walls and slowly but surely, some people began to notice and friends and contacts to follow suit. Later that year Above Second invited some of the world's best street artists and turned a soon-to-be-demolished warehouse into a one-off gallery. ‘Working Progress’ was the biggest and most successful exhibition of street art that HK had ever had and I feel that's when the locals began to fall in love.
I have been a freelance illustrator for 10 years . My style has always been very much influenced by street art. Before I knew it I was painting big and invited to take part in HK’s first street art competition. ‘Secret Walls’ was a hit and I found myself being contacted to take part in events, such as Clockenflap, HKWalls, Detour and many more. After winning the second series of Secret Walls in 2015, offers came in to paint on shop walls, skate ramps, in yoga studios, restaurants, bars and even on giant shoes. Local artists began to spend more time under the spotlight and have gone on to push boundaries ever since. I personally have grown so much as an artist in Asia, collaborated with some seriously talented people and built up a portfolio that represents four fantastic busy years as an artist in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong has provided me with great opportunities to develop and earn some dollars. I feel, however, that Hong Kong people need to believe in people, their interests and capacity to support the arts from the ground up. Hong Kong Basel, Art Central and the influx of top art names is a showcase and a supermarket that puts amazing art in confined spaces though with staggering price tags. As the scene booms and blooms, let's hope that the local artist scene doesn’t wilt and die. Art is a way of life and it doesn’t matter how talented you are, support is always needed.
Be sure to support your local artists.