Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Getting Urban with Art- A Conversation with Gary Yeung

I had the pleasure of talking with Gary Yeung, a local visual artist who calls himself an "urban sketch artist". I discovered his blog via Stumbleupon and really liked his views on our city. He covers the good, the bad, the unique and the mundane. (My personal favorite work of his is the sketch of the beautiful banyan tree in Yuen Long that is covering up an old school building. One of my favorite places in HK and a beautiful piece of artwork.) No stone is unturned, no facet is ignored. You can take a look at his art via his blog: http://www.studiogario.com/.
His sketches would make a unique gift for friends wanting a piece of Hong Kong that is off the beaten path. And art is always a good investment. We never know, Gary could become the next "King of Kowloon"! (If you don't know what this is in reference to, please google it.)

Gary is smart, nice and talented and he does sketches of kittens... What more could a girl ask for?

1. What is an urban sketch artist?
A person who is interested in sketching anything that interests him in any neighborhood that he has contact with.

2. You draw Hong Kong a lot. What parts of our city do you find so inspiring?
Naturally, Sai Kung is the area that inspires me most as I have been living in this area for a long time and it has a lot of interesting culture and stunning sceneries.

3. What was the first piece of art you made as a child that you were very proud of?
I remember it was a drawing of the then Connaught Building, now Jardine House.  I used to draw it along with the buildings, ferries and the Peak behind it when I was a child.  I was simply fascinated with this once tallest building in Asia, its white boxy outlook and its round windows.  The design has never become outdated even if we look at it today.
Jardine House. Actually, this is my favorite building in HK!

4. What is the best piece you have ever made?
Hmm!  It's really hard to say which one.  Recently I just finished an illustration about the street stalls framed by the old tenement buildings at Reclamation Street.  I think this one is a good example of my collection of sketches and illustrations of Hong Kong, showing the unique cityscape and culture of Hong Kong and something that we should treasure and protect.  
His favorite new piece!

5. Is it difficult for a visual artist to make a living in Hong Kong?
I do not have an answer to that.  While many of my friends are struggling to make a living out of it, some are quite successful and have become established artists/illustrators.  I think the Hong Kong Government has a lot that she can do to help the local art scene to thrive.

6. What can the government do to help more budding artists?
Rent is the number issue to local artists!  Running a spacious studio is essential to allow any artist to create his own works and yet for many artists especially the young ones, renting a decent space for studio is almost like an impossible dream.  The government should help establish  more artist villages/estates around Hong Kong, similar to the Shek Kip Mei Jockey Club Creative Arts Centre, allowing local artists to rent at a low reasonable price.   
The JCAC in Shek Kip Mei

7. What's your favorite art movement? Why?
Impressionism and figurative art are what I like most!  I think before an artist can effectively convey an idea or a concept, technique should always come first.  And for impressionism, I am always amazed with how those artists experiment effects based on the relationship of lights and shadows.

8. What style of art do you find over-rated? Why?
I do not have any comment on that.

9. What made you start drawing Hong Kong urban scapes in the first place?
As a Hongkongnese, I just want to show my fellows how precious Hong Kong is. 

10. Do you do any other styles of art besides sketching?
I do oil painting and acrylic painting as well.
If you are interested in Gary's work please check his blog. I also believe he has a youtube channel! Enjoy this very cool video about the process of his work...
 I really wish artists of all mediums in Hong Kong would get together for a pow-pow soon! I think we could do a lot to help each other cross promote and build our brands!

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