Born and raised in New Zealand, street artist Alana Tsui now spends her time between Hong Kong and New York. Having worked as a stylist, makeup artist, and painter, Alana’s works have graced walls all across the world. Here in Hong Kong, her murals have been featured in the VANS x HKWALLS project, hole-in-the-wall bar Bobby’s Rabble, and the rooftop of The Mercury – a New York-style serviced apartments in the up-and-coming Tin Hau district. We caught up with the talented artist as she completed her Angel Wings mural project at The Mercury this August, to find out what inspires her beautiful creations.
Hi, Alana. Painting was a hobby of yours before you began to pursue it professionally. What led to this decision?
Even though I have been painting murals for the past nine years, I only began to promote myself as an artist a few years ago. I had always gotten jobs through word of mouth in the past, but as the work gradually grew bigger and became more frequent, I realised that mural painting had transitioned and become a part of my professional freelance work.
You’ve worked in a number of industries, from makeup artistry to styling and creating murals. Do these passions intertwine?
They are all creative industries and require a good eye for detail, being creative and artistic in some way. These fields are all about having a vision and executing it.
What are your thoughts on Hong Kong’s street art scene?
I love that it’s finally growing! People are a lot more open, receptive, and showing appreciation for it. Street art is increasingly perceived as a style of art rather than the conventional thought of it being vandalism or graffiti.
Are there a few artists in particular whose work you are following?
I’m always discovering new artists so it’s always changing but at the end of the day, I am more attracted to artists who do bold line work or artwork in black and white. Right now, I’m really into Joshua Vides, because I love his style. I also love that his work is focused and relatable to all things current – it’s very interesting and refreshing to see.
How would you describe your own artistic style?
Bold patterns that flow with meticulous details and line work, often with hidden objects and elements intertwined by a common theme.
What are your main influences?
My main influence is my surrounding, so I’m constantly finding new inspiration everywhere I go.
Could you tell us a little bit about the Angel Wings project?
The wings mural is the second part of a project for The Mercury. It’s developed from the rooftop mural where the main feature is a Phoenix. For the second mural, I wanted something relating to the Phoenix and came up with the long wings, similar to the long stretched-out wings found on a Phoenix. The wings are filled with my patterns and I hope that it will become a photo taking opportunity spot that will bring attention to the piece and to The Mercury.
The Mercury has been dubbed a New York-style space. Given that you spend your time between Hong Kong and New York, is this particularly relatable to you?
Hong Kong has become more open to street art, and a big part of this is restaurants, apartments, and offices having large-scale murals that give the city an urban vibe. That is a very common fixture in New York, especially with interactive murals that translate well onto social media.
Could you tell us about your next few upcoming projects?
You’ll have to stay tuned!