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  • Sophia Hotung

Answering your questions as K11 ARTUS’s artist-in-residence

Updated: May 7

I’m currently living at K11 ARTUS, the design-led artisanal residence along the harbour in Tsim Sha Tsui, creating art inspired by the space.


Needless to say, the space is inspiring. I’m used to living out in the New Territories where you have to take a walk to take a bus to take an MTR to get anywhere. Now I can literally hop in an elevator and be in a library, a café, a salon, an art museum… and I honestly never want to leave my room because that in itself is amazing.


This residency kicked off in a flurry with very little promo, so when I started posting Instagram stories at ARTUS, I got a few bewildered questions about my new chapter. Therefore, I thought I’d do a little Q&A this week on the blog…


What is an artist-in-residence?

It’s pretty much what it sounds like. I’m an artist and I’m living as a guest at ARTUS's residences. During my stay, it’s my job to make ARTUS-inspired art, which they then get to keep — my gift to them for a once-in-a-lifetime gig.


How did you get the gig?

K11 ARTUS's general manager’s assistant emailed me through my website. She told me that she had been browsing hashtags on Instagram one Sunday morning and my Hong Kongers appeared in one of her searches. She clicked through to my Instagram page, then my website, had a scroll through my Hong Kongers, and reached out. We were laughing when we signed on the dotted line about how random (for her) and lucky (for me) this whole arrangement was. I literally woke up one Sunday morning to an email from K11 ARTUS! I wasn’t sure if it was real!


Especially in creative industries, fortuitous moments like this can feel very “flukey”. There was no application process, no competition, no audition. It was a total accident that ARTUS found me. And because of that, all I can recommend for nabbing opportunities like this is to engage in work not because you hope it’ll pay off but because the act of working in itself is enjoyable. If you’re fulfilled by a hobby, you’ll never be disappointed when opportunities related to that hobby don’t come your way, and you’ll be over the moon when they do.


More tangibly however, you can up your chances by a.) cultivating your social media platforms as diligently as your website since the former usually drive traffic to the latter, b.) making your contact page easy to find on your website, and c.) getting strategic with hashtags (this is a whole other blog post that I’ll make soon and that you can get notified about here).


What are you creating for ARTUS?

I can’t say yet! I think it’ll be fun to keep the final piece a secret until the end, but also, I really don’t know four days in! Before starting the residency, the ARTUS team and I discussed what I would make, but obviously it’s impossible to create art about a place before experiencing it. For my art to feel “right”, it has to be organic and spontaneous, so I’ve allowed myself a few days to get inspired, to feel free, and to explore. I’ve read about the art showcased around the space, snapped photos, attended an Annie Leibovitz talk, and generally purged all my thoughts into doodles, sketches, notes, and mind-maps. Now i’m launching into my first full week, so I’ve created a game plan to start bringing the pieces together into a project that i’m very excited about and can’t wait to share.


How long are you in residence for?

Throughout January! (if they’d let me though, i’d stay forever.)

How come you’re not posting a lot?

When it comes to my job, I feel like there’s a switch that goes back and forth. There is the artist side of the switch that handles the creative aspect of my work and there is the corporate side of the switch that handles the business aspect. I find that when I try to multi-task and be both creative and corporate at the same time, things don’t go well. The art feels stale or rushed, or the business isn’t well planned or executed. To get into a proper flow with my creative work, I like to avoid social media, especially in the ideation stage of my creative work.


I’m fortunate that social media doesn’t make me feel bad about myself, but I do find the follower-counting, the like-chasing, and the engaging very distracting when I’m trying to access a state of deep work. Don’t worry, though — I’m documenting the stay and will share lots of juicy fun material soon, but now it’s creative time!


Obviously there is more to come, so stay tuned. (I send out weekly blog posts in my newsletter, which you can subscribe to if you’d like to get notified when there’s new content.) I am still bewildered and tickled by this whole experience (and it’s only day 4)! I can’t even say that I’m living my dream job, because I never even dreamed that this could be a job. I’m just trying to memorialise how everything feels, create work that makes me happy, and share the experience with friends and family who supported me so that I could get here in the first place.


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