Climbing Higher with Bao

Street art in Hong Kong is still very young, and Bao is one its leading lights. Even though she’s only been painting for the past three years or so, she competes with the globe-trotting artists who headline festivals worldwide.

Her cartoon murals bubble and roll like waves, with characters spilling over one another in a constant rhythm. Inspired by Japanese manga comics at a young age, Bao could be found with a pencil in her hand for most of her life. But until recently, she was stuck behind a computer in an uncreative design job. “Our generation says, if you do art you can’t survive or make money. So they ask you to study design instead,” she explains. The artist eventually found herself bored with her job, so a couple of years ago she up and quit, deciding instead to travel overseas and try living off her art.

在香港,街头艺术还很年轻,而 Bao 正是其中一位领军人物。尽管 Bao 创作街头艺术只有三年左右,但她早已和全球各地参办艺术节的街头艺术家不相上下。

Bao 笔下活泼可爱的卡通墙绘,像波浪一样翻滚着,人和物以流动的方式漂浮着。从小深受日本漫画的启发,Bao 热衷画画,并且在生活中大部分的时间里,她都会手握一支铅笔。但其实直到不久前,她还在电脑后面做着一份毫无创造性的设计工作。“我们这一代人常说,如果你从事艺术行业,就不能生存或赚钱啦。所以很多人会让你改学设计。” 她解释说。最终,Bao 实在发现对自己的工作感到厌烦,所以几年前她放弃了,决定去国外旅行,尝试以艺术为生。

It turned out to be a good move. She discovered her talent for street art in Italy, thanks to some local artists, just as the scene started blossoming back home. Space Invader had visited, leaving behind his trademark pixelated characters, and when the government began removing them, it caused something of an outcry, bringing even more attention to the murals. This was also around the time when Hong Kong Walls, the city’s premiere street art festival, was launched.

Although things were off to a good start when she returned, it was still an uphill battle: “My first year back, I was trying to find walls to paint everywhere. Begging people. No one would give me walls!” Undaunted, Bao persisted, and these days clients come to her.

这个放弃的决定,结果证实下来还不错。她在意大利发现了自己在街头艺术方面的天赋,这多亏了一些当地艺术家。这边,得益于Space Invader 曾经来访,在意大利留下了他标志性的像素人物,但当政府开始逐步清除它们时,却引起了一片哗然,更大成都上引起了人们对街头墙画的关注。而与此同时,在她的家乡香港,正逢当地的街头艺术节——“香港墙涂鸦”(Hong Kong Walls)开始的时候,墙绘也开始新兴发展。

Bao 回港时,适逢香港墙上涂鸦不错的开始阶段,但这仍可说是一场艰难的战斗。“第一年,我一直在找墙,到处找,到处求人。但没人给我墙!” Bao 却不气馁,一直坚持,以至最近都有顾客找上门来。

While she paints mostly at home, she’s been attending more international festivals of late, recently landing a Simpsons-themed project in Bristol. Originally she wanted to paint her own mural, but they were out of wall space. When they returned with an offer to have her paint Bart and Homer characters, she jumped at the opportunity. She and two other artists painted the yellow cartoon murals, while the rest of the artists did separate projects. Her murals look a lot like the very early Simpsons characters, but that’s just a coincidence. “I don’t really watch the show, but I started to watch it when I got the mural and I quite like it,” she admits with a laugh. “The style isn’t a reference to any period, it looks like the old Simpsons, but it’s actually just my style.”

虽然 Bao 大部分时间是在家里作画,但她近期一直在参加更多的国际性活动,最近她获得了由布里斯托尔政府委托的一系列以《辛普森一家》人物为主题的作品。本来她只想自己选择主题来画墙绘,但因为种种空间限制,最终她负责了“辛普森一家项目”创作机会。当他们带着她画的 Bart 和 Homer 的人物回来时,她欣然抓住了这个机会。她和另外两位艺术家画了黄色的卡通涂鸦,而其余的艺术家则从事个人的不同工作。她的墙绘看起来很像早期辛普森笔下的人物,但那只是一个巧合。“我以前并不怎么看这个节目,但当我拿到画时我就开始看了,我还真的喜欢上它了。” 她笑着承认。“这画的风格并不像我任何时期的作品,它看起来像最初版的辛普森一家 (《辛普森一家》的第一季绘画风格和后续季有点不一样,人物形象更饱满可爱一些,但实际上这正是我的风格。”

The large-scale, full-color works represent a new stage for Bao. In the beginning, she’d do monotone pieces, sometimes just bold outlines on a blank surface. But as she’s gotten more comfortable with the medium, she’s started adding more and more elements. In Shanghai she recently did a five-story mural. Since she’s still rather new to things, she still uses paint brushes for outlines and only picks up spray cans to fill in larger pieces. Her background in design drudgery has come in handy too, helping her manage clients and organize work.

大规模且全彩的作品,代表了 Bao 一个新阶段的开启。一开始,她会做单调的作品,有时候只是在空白的表面上画一些粗体。但是,随着她对这种媒介越来越适应,Bao 开始添加越来越多的元素。她最近在上海了一面五层楼的墙。因为 Bao 对这样作画还比较陌生,她仍然用画笔画下轮廓,然后拿起喷壶来填充较大的部分。她原先在设计工作上的背景也派上用场,能够帮她管理客户和整理工作。

Street art has turned out to be a surprising source of income in a city with a notoriously high cost of living, allaying fears that art isn’t a viable career path. “There’s a living to be made now,” she says. But the public is still coming to terms with it. “I’ve only had good experiences, but I have friends who say people complain a lot. Some people hate it, they don’t care what you’re painting, they just don’t like it. Haters gonna hate.”

在一个以生活成本极高而出名的城市,街头艺术成了一个出人意料的收入来源,这减轻了人们对 “艺术不是一条可行的职业生涯” 的担忧。她说:“现在生计有了着落。” 但公众仍需要一个接受的过程。“我有些朋友告诉我说,对墙绘现在人们有很多抱怨。有些人讨厌墙绘,他们根本不在乎你在画什么,就是不喜欢它。愤世嫉俗的人看什么都不顺眼。” 



Contributor: Mike Steyels



供稿人: Mike Steyels