Are you and your family originally from Hong Kong? Tell us a bit more about your background.
I am originally from Hong Kong but I moved around because my dad’s career was in the shipping business. So, I was born in Japan, went to kindergarten in England, elementary school in Hong Kong, and Thailand for high school! I left for The States to study at Cornell University. I then worked in New York City for several years for a Fortune 100 company before moving back to Hong Kong. After a few years working in corporate, I decided it was time to live my own dream of starting my own business.
Where do you live? How have you made your home your own?
I live in Wan Chai, and our studio, Random Art Workshop, is also located in Wan Chai, so it is very convenient. I really like this area because it’s close to Central, but still has more of an old Hong Kong flavour. I actually spend more time at the studio, so I decided to decorate RAW in a way where I’d be comfortable and inspired while conducive to getting work done. I get to do fun stuff, so naturally all my photo equipment/books and art related accessories/tools are my toys.
How do you describe your personal style? How does it evolve and change?
I look for simple chic items that are easy to pair with different pieces and work for a variety of situations. I wear a lot black pieces and will try to pair them with more interesting accessories. I think I am much more ambitious with my clothing than from when I was in corporate and I always balance comfort (because I am very active when photographing) with looking professional (because people trust in me to complete the job), while ultimately making sure the style is reflective of who I am.
Where do you shop in Hong Kong? Any secret finds you can let us in on?
I mix and match generic brands with more boutique items for their uniqueness and craft. I really admire handmade/bespoke accessories as there is so much thought and heart put into these pieces by the designers. I love the unique clothing designs by Among Strangers, S.Nine, and Kanchan Couture. Also check out Bez & Oho whose bags use recycled material, and I recently came across this interesting store on Wellington Street called Dear Bell carrying some very fun and elegant mix of unique hand crafted necklaces.
What are your must-have beauty products? Where do you go for hair/nails/maintenance?
Must have: moisturiser, lip balm, eye liner and modelling clay for hair.
I’m pretty low maintenance otherwise. I’ll get a haircut every 2 months at Vis Hair in Causeway Bay, since I generally keep a fairly short hairstyle.
What is your favourite thing to do at the weekend?
Well I usually work on the weekends for photography related jobs or private art parties at RAW. But when I get some down time, boat trips/water related activities are my first choices for the summer. A nice brunch to catch up with friends is great for all seasons. I also just like to tuck away in a cafe and catch up on all the magazines. I actually really enjoy hiking during the cooler months but I really don’t get to do that enough.
What is your favourite restaurant in Hong Kong?
I must say I really enjoy lunch buffets at major hotels! I like private kitchens such as Yellow Door in Central, reasonably priced and delicious 6-8 course Sichuan cuisine. I also really like Fusion 5th in Sheung Wan.
What inspired you to start RAW? Do you think everyone has a secret artist hidden inside us?
When I quit my job to become a full time photographer, I was looking to take a few fun and easy workshops in different types of art medium but realized there really isn’t anything aside from painting. So my husband and I decided to start a creative outlet to promote the everyday arts and to provide everyone the opportunity to take one-off workshops to try out different art mediums such photography, acrylic painting, scrapbooking, mixed medium, jewellery making, tabletop planting etc.
I truly believe that everyone can be creative and everyone needs to have the time to themselves to allow the creative juices to flow. You’ll be surprised what you can create in a few hours without prior training. It’s just a great way to clear your mind, relax, and de-stress through an art form. We also hope that our workshops will be the catalyst for someone to continue to explore more art related activities/hobbies in the future.
Prior to all this, you spent ten years in the financial business. What prompted the career change?
I start to seek freelance photography jobs when I was still working, and in my spare time I would practice obsessively (and still do!). Some really close friends gave me a shot at professionally doing projects for them, and I worked hard to make sure they were the best they could be. After several years part timing it, I felt I had gained enough experience to professionally do it full time, as well as leverage my corporate experience. Shortly after going full time, RAW was a natural progression because I could explore many different facets of art (I work closely and collaborate with instructors) while providing a service to our community.
You’ve just started RAW magazine – can you tell us a bit more about that?
Yes it’s very exciting! We launched our first issue in early Dec 2011. We want to celebrate art, help promote the up-and-coming artist, and have a platform for feedback and communication from the general audience. We believe art is a luxury everyone should be able to learn about and experience. I think there’s already a lot of food and lifestyle content available in HK and it’s just a natural progression for RAW to offer more art related information and insights.
What are your top recommendations for places to go in HK for art-lovers (apart from RAW of course)?
I like the galleries along Hollywood road, starting from the Sheung Wan area with The Cat Street Gallery, Contemporary by Angela Li, to Central such as The 10 Chancery Lane Gallery. Hong Kong Performing Arts Centre usually holds a good selection of exhibitions and shows.
Can you give us amateur photographers three top tips for taking great photos!
1. Keep it simple – often there is so much to capture in one scene that people try to include too many elements in one shot. I would focus on one unique thing and make it the photo you want it to be.
2. Notice the light – start to notice where the light is coming from especially in relation to the subject you are trying to capture. Do you want a harsh shadow or softer lighting? Do you want back light or more direct light?
3. Shoot at different angles/perspective – don’t shoot from your usual eye level but shoot from the waist level, or shooting at the level of the child or pet. Try from a lower angle or higher angle to capture a different point of view. This will make the photo more intriguing and keep the audience wondering how you took the shot.
Do you have any advice for any other budding entrepreneurs out there?
Don’t take no for an answer. If there is something you believe in and want to implement, then find that solution. Don’t let other people tell you that you can’t do it because no one else has done it, or it’s too difficult, or too expensive, or too impractical, or whatever the excuse may be. Of course you need to make informed decisions, but always explore through different options or new ways to solve that business problem. More often than not, the road block is not as big as it seems.
All photos taken by Joyce herself! You can check out more of her work and contact her at www.joyceyung.com
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