Hong Kong Comic Artist Li Chi Tak on Sham Shui Po Pulse Mapping with Schoeni Projects
By Jianne Soriano
May 27, 2021
Comic book artist Li Chi Tak collaborates with Schoeni Projects for “ Sham Shui Po is Still Sham Shui Po ”, a map dedicated to exploring the historic district
The comic book industry in Hong Kong may not be as well-known today as it was in the past, overshadowed by the popularity of manga (Japanese comics) and manwha (Korean comics). ) or even the rise of webtoons. But Hong Kong comic artist Li Chi Tak remains true to her craft, her favorite form of storytelling. He is considered one of Hong Kong’s most important artists and may well be considered a Hong Kong treasure himself.
He lends the visual language of his illustrations to the Schoeni Project’s “Sham Shui Po is Still Sham Shui Po”, a project that aims to encourage Hong Kongers to explore and rediscover the timeless charm of the neighborhood. The map highlights four suggested trails that showcase an integration of the old and new of the neighborhood, showcasing the multifaceted wonders of Sham Shui Po, from shopping streets, local restaurants to artistic communities.
Tatler sits down with Li Chi Tak about his work with Schenoi Projects, his own memories of Sham Shui Po, and how the comic book industry has evolved over the years.
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Can you tell us how you got involved in the “Sham Shui Po Is Still Sham Shui Po” project?
Nicole contacted me and shared her thoughts on this Sham Shui Po project, to see if I was interested. We have known each other since 2012 when she was director of the Schoeni Art Gallery and organized a group exhibition in which I was included called Hong Kong Invisible: Exhibition of 15 artists from Hong Kong.
What do you think of working with Schoeni Projects?
It was awesome! At first I was a little worried because I found reading the map quite difficult. But, no kidding, this joint effort with Schoeni Projects really helped. It gave me a new perspective looking at this place and this project. Everyone really did their best, which made me feel relieved.
Was there any difficulty creating the maps for this project?
Basically, when I was drawing the map, you really had to pay attention to the details. The locations had to be correct and clear which was a complex process for me. Patience was the key. Since I have a terrible sense of direction, it was not easy for me.
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After joining this project … I understood better the changes that this old quarter is undergoing and it is a very good challenge indeed
– Li Chi Tak
What are some of the changes Sham Shui Po has gone through that surprised you?
I was surprised that Sham Shui Po had become such a hip neighborhood.
Do you have any personal memories of Sham Shui Po that have stuck with you?
About 30 years ago, I was working near Cheung Sha Wan. Sometimes I would walk to Sham Shui Po. But in my memory, Sham Shui Po was so complicated and dense. My impression of the neighborhood was that it was affordable and cheaper than elsewhere, whether it was food, clothing, toys or computer supplies.
Over the past 10 years, my wife will constantly take me to the other side of Sham Shui Po, where all the fabric, ribbon and button stores are located. And of course another activity we did there was eating at a noodle stand that we had come across. Their delicious food is on everyone’s must-see list.
See also: Neighborhood Guide: Where to Eat, Drink and Shop in Sham Shui Po
How is working on this project different from what you have done in the past?
This map is a painting but it also has a function, so it has to be realistic. This is the biggest difference. It contains real information and painting has always been about expression and creativity, so I had to add some interesting ideas to the map to come to terms with that.
How has the comic book industry evolved since you started out?
It seems to me that I witnessed the greatest period of the Hong Kong comic book industry, but it gradually slowed down. Skills and know-how are not very well positioned in today’s mass market world. In my eyes, comics as a storytelling art form are still my favorite.
You are well known in the international comic book scene, just as your work has been exhibited abroad, is the feeling different when you work on a project in Hong Kong?
It’s more or less the same. But foreigners seem to respect art a little more.
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Asking Li Chi Tak to create a neighborhood map is my way of paying homage to my home … and documenting Sham Shui Po’s cultural heritage before it potentially disappears.
– Nicole Schoeni, founder of Schoeni Projects
What do you hope people can get out of this project?
I agree with Nicole’s idea for this project. I really hope everyone will know more about Sham Shui Po and know more about the other side of the neighborhood.
What is the particularity of this project?
The card will be printed in 100 signed limited edition copies and will be on sale for HK $ 1,000. Half of the profits will be donated to the Society for Community Organization (SoCO). Hope everyone will support him and also enjoy exploring Sham Shui Po through the map.
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“Sham Shui Po is Still Sham Shui Po” will be available in print and digital version on the Schoeni Project website on June 2. We encourage you to share your favorite must-see places in Hong Kong on their Instagram and use the hashtag, #SSPisstillSSP to help map the neighborhood.