Draw what you know

Draw what you know

A University of Hong Kong architecture student likes to go to his neighbourhood to find sketch subjects

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Alex Wong was surprised when a friend wanted to buy a copy of more than 20 Tai Hang sketches
Alex Wong was surprised when a friend wanted to buy a copy of more than 20 Tai Hang sketches
Thomas Yau/SCMP

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One of Alex Wong's sketches
One of Alex Wong's sketches
Thomas Yau/SCMP

Being an student in architecture, Alex Wong is no stranger to sketching technical drawings and buildings. In his spare time, however, he loves to draw something totally different, such as the neighbourhood of Tai Hang, where he lives.

"My family moved to Tai Hang a year ago, and I found the area very beautiful and interesting. It's a district undergoing redevelopment and struggling [with its identity] between new and old," says the 19-year-old student at the University of Hong Kong and former Young Post cadet.

He started to draw the shops and people he saw every day. In a short time, he has collected more than 20 sketches of different scenes: the residential building he's living in, a walk-up building in Wun Sha Street, a local grocery store with a rustic metal gate, people enjoying their milk tea at a dai pai dong outdoors and new funky hangouts such as the liquid nitrogen ice cream shop.

He found a printer to put all his drawings in a small booklet called Tai Hang Sketches .

"Tai Hang is a miniature of Hong Kong with tropical and festive colours," Wong says. "It's the district where East meets West and old meets new. Hong Kong as a city is chaotic in the most fantastic way; you will find skyscrapers alongside classical colonial parliamentary buildings. And it offers a great mix of people and lifestyles, and they can all feel at ease."

He has printed only 20 copies of his sketchbook and given them to his family, relatives and friends as souvenirs. He had never thought about selling them until a friend suggested it.

"He told me he'd buy it if it were available on the market. I was surprised to hear that," Wong says.

His followers on various social media platforms where he uploaded his drawings have also asked about how they could each order a copy.

"It's really flattering to know that some people like your artwork, but I think I still have a lot to learn," he says.

Wong says drawing is a hobby, and he hasn't considered whether his artistic talent might lead to a different career or distract him from his studies.

"Actually my hobby complements my studies," Wong says. "It's about training your artistic sense and noticing what's around you. And it helps me see urban planning from a social perspective.

"I have begun to imagine the kind of building I'd design for a neighbourhood in Hong Kong and how I can make the architecture blend in with the people who live there and create a harmonious environment."

Alex's useful tips 

  • You'll do your best work when you're relaxed. Try not to sketch when you're stressed, such as during an exam period.
  • Water colour is an easy tool, especially if you're a beginner.
  • Take a photograph of the places and people if you don't have time to draw on the spot. It will also save time and embarrassment.
  • Take note of your surroundings and try to look at things with a fresh pair of eyes, as if you were a visitor.
This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Draw what you know

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