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  • Sophia Hotung

My daily routine as the artist-in-residence at k11 ARTUS

Updated: May 7

I’ve been at K11 ARTUS, the design-led artisanal residence in Tsim Sha Tsui, now for a nine days and have sunk into a fun little routine.


8am - Big breakfasts for big days

I am 100% not a morning person. My best work usually gets done between 10pm and the wee hours of the following day, but there must be something in the water here, because I’m up at about 7.30am now to get to breakfast at 8am downstairs. There are some juicy breakfast options but i’ve ended up alternating between the full English or the poached egg on a bagel (except I get gluten-free toast because of my celiac disease.)


I don’t normally eat breakfast so tucking into one of these bad boys every morning takes my little stomach a full hour, but during that hour, I doodle or listen to a podcast. I’ve started listening to Writ Large, which talks about the historical significance of different works of literature, but I also like listening to the QAnon Anonymous podcast (don’t worry — I don’t believe in QAnon conspiracies; I just have a morbid curiosity about the cult). I also listen to My Dad Wrote a Porno on loop a lot, because it’s my all-time favourite show.


9am - Working on the 10th floor

At this point, I’ll either set myself up at a table behind the stairs in the Commune or in the Living Salon. the Living Salon’s great, because it’s where most of the sculptures, artworks, and classic ARTUS fixtures are. The project that I’m working in involves celebrating a lot of ARTUS's installations, so it’s convenient to have the subjects of my illustrations all around me. I especially like incorporating shapes and patterns into my work as little Easter eggs, so carpet textures, light hardware, and furniture silhouettes are great inspirations to drawn on in the Living Salon too.


1pm - Tea in my room

I’m still full from my enormous breakfast that I usually just have a tea and snack in my room. ARTUS was lovely and stocked my room full of gluten-free treats when I arrived, so I’ve always got a little nibble at my fingertips. My mum and friends keep bringing snacks too, so there’s actually surplus issue (but I won’t complain about that.) I’ll usually have a break around this point to catch up with life admin or check for notifications or celebrity deaths on my phone. (RIP Meat Loaf).


1.30pm - work in my room

ONce I’m satiated with biscuits and I’m at inbox-zero (or close enough), I’ll set up shop at the desk in my room and crack on with work. When I work in the mornings, I don’t bring my whole set-up downstairs. It’s usually just my iPad for drawing and phone and headphones for podcasts. Up in my room, I crack open my laptop to either listen to an audiobook or watch a Netflix show, and in a separate window I have an Airtable that tracks my progress with my residency project.


My residency project is massive (in a good way). It involves a lot of writing and 50-ish illustrations. (It’s still secret though, so that’s all I’ll tell you about it right now.) I need the Airtable and my bullet journal to make sure I’m on track to finish everything before the residency ends.


As far as entertainment goes, I’ve gone for two extremes. I'm listening to Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast & Slow as an audiobook, but it can get a bit stodgy, since he refers to a lot of figures and diagrams in a supplementary PDF. Since I’m drawing at the same time and don’t want to stop to refer to the PDF, sometimes I (embarrassingly) switch to Netflix where I (and please don’t judge me) have been sucked into watching Too Hot to Handle. I started watching it ironically, but now I’m eight episodes in and need an intervention. Help.


Occasionally, I’ll need to pop to a doctor’s appointment, meeting, or zoom call, but those really happen at random times on random days, so there’s no real structure to that.


4pm - Break and a walk

During this pre-dusk slump, I take a moment to check in health-wise. I am on a corticosteroid called hydrocortisone for adrenal failure. Since I’ve been on steroids for almost 11 years now to treat my autoimmune diseases, my body can no longer manufacture its own cortisol. (Cortisol is the stress hormone responsible for fight-or-flight responses.) I take one dose of hydrocortisone when I wake up, but at 4pm, I need another to see me through the rest of the day. It’s a good break in the day to bring my brain back to self-care, health, and all that good stuff.


After my gross chalky steroid pill goes down the hatch, I’ll then venture downstairs to Tsim Sha Tsui for a walk. If I have friends over, I usually go to the supermarket while on my walk to stock up on libations and nibbles. I like to go early so I don’t end up in rush hour supermarket queues or MTR throngs.


5pm - Back in my room

My routine varies depending on if I have friends over or not. because of my chronic fatigue, I need to make sure that for every evening I have people over, I have at least one recovery evening that gives me an opportunity to rest. Therefore, in the early evening, I could be doing anything from napping, to prepping dinner, to working some more, to lying with nine chins on my bed reading. At the moment I’m reading Orlando by Virginia Woolf, but I’m not getting through it very quickly, because I’m spending most of the time I would normally spend reading drawing.


7pm - Dinner

I’ll either eat alone or with whomever’s stopping by for dinner. I have to be Covid-safe, so there is a room cap of only four people, including myself. A lot of the time, my guest is my mum, who was invited to spend one Friday night here but now inexplicably has left her toothbrush here and comments on how convenient it is to commute to work from ARTUS instead of home.


8pm - Doodling again

If I have friends over for dinner, they usually stay until I kick them out to go to bed at 11pm. If i’m alone, I usually just continue to work at the desk with Daniel Kahneman or Too Hot to Handle yammering away in the background. I’m a big bath fan and the one in my room is a crater, so I sometimes draw in the bath. It’s a risky move because oh my god if I dropped my iPad in there, I would lose everything and have to hide in the hills for 9,000 years.


11pm - Bedtime

Teeth brushed, devices charging, pyjamas donned — I hit the sack. I’ll check my phone again and go through texts, emails, and notifications. I really don't like to be at the beck-and-call of my phone during the day, because it puts a dampener on my creative flow and productivity when I have the ding-ding-ding going off in my peripheral vision.


If you haven’t yet read my first blog post about my stay at K11 ARTUS as the artist-in-residence, you can here. I answered some frequently asked questions from my Instagram messages. I’m excited to share with you the final project once it’s finished. I’ve never done anything like this, especially in such a short period of time, and I feel really good about what i’m making! stay tuned…

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