You may not know Heep Yunn School’s Form Five students Vivian Cheung Chi-ching and Kelly Wan Lok-yiu, but you’ve probably seen their cool take on the movie poster of Japanese hit animation Your Name – drawn on a giant blackboard in chalk.
Their work made more than a bit of a buzz online earlier this year when it was shared by the Instagram page School Secrets and was liked thousands of times online on various social media platforms.
The duo became friends in Form Four, and art projects like these have only brought the two friends closer than ever. This is the third blackboard drawing that Kelly and Vivian have worked together on. They began with a drawing last March, in which they drew two girls back-to-back and sharing a single pair of wings.
“We wanted to surprise our classmates,” says Kelly. That’s why they spent four hours drawing at school before any of their classmates came in after Easter holiday.
Late last year, they created another masterpiece, this time bringing to life the story of Alice in Wonderland. Then, for Alice in Heep Yunn, they drew the characters and items at certain angles so that their classmates could take photos that made them look like they were interacting with the drawing.
“Our classmates could pose with the characters in the drawing,” explains Vivian. “For example, they could hold hands with the rabbit … we wanted to bring a more artsy vibe to the campus by engaging [people] in our work.”
The reason they wanted to do that, Kelly says, is because they wanted to impress upon people the importance of art. It’s not that people aren’t interested in it, she adds, it’s just that many don’t feel like they’re any good at it. To that end, Vivian and Kelly set up a Facebook page and called it Illusdreamer because they are “illustrators with dreams,” says Vivian.
“Dreams are illustrations from the book your soul is writing about you,” they’ve written on the page, quoting American playwright Masha Norman.
Kelly, who has dreams of one day running her own art school, sees blackboard drawing as a way of influencing the people around her, using limited sources and abilities. Although the girls have worked with other mediums such as sketches and oil paintings, using a blackboard and a set of chalks is rapidly becoming their favourite way of expressing themselves – though they realise it won’t be so easy after they graduate.
“It’s difficult to get a blackboard off campus,” Kelly adds. The blank slate’s huge size isn’t just limited to what they might do in the future – it’s something that they’ve always struggled with.
“We have to really keep an eye on ratios and coordinate with each other [when we are working],” Vivian says. Every once in a while, one of them will have to step back and view their progress from a distance.
“[There’s] no way you can see it all when you’re right in front of the blackboard,” she says, and adds that they don’t try to deviate too much from what they originally draft.
“You can always erase what you don’t want with the brush [on the final piece], but it’ll look messy,” says Kelly. The board isn’t the only thing that can look messy when they work either – the chalk dust finds itself into their hair and their clothes too. When Kelly works on a part of the artwork that’s on the top of the board, Vivian finds herself shaking dust out of her hair on a regular basis.
The animated film Your Name was released in Hong Kong last November.
“We really love [director] Makoto Shinkai’s style,” says Kelly, which is why they dedicated time to drawing their piece. Their blackboard drawing took them six hours to complete, and the video that they took of the entire process has generated more than 172,000 views on YouTube.
Unlike their first collaboration the Wings, the duo didn’t create a draft on paper, and instead worked freehand using the movie poster as a guide. The poster itself is full of bright colours, which was another challenge for the girls, as they only had so many chalk colours to go on – however, thanks to a box of old chalks from Vivian’s childhood, they were able to use some less common chalk colours like purple in their work.
Kelly says that one of the most important things you have to remember about blackboard drawings is that the base/negative spaces are the darkest of all. “If you use watercolours, you need to leave it blank, but you need to leave it black on a blackboard.”
To see more amazing close ups of the Illusdreamers’ art, check out their Instagram page
Edited by Ginny Wong