K11 MUSEA Street Art: Kristopher Ho, the Man Behind the Marker

Kristopher Ho in conversation with CoBo’s editorial team
“The Leap”, which explores the psychology of millenials and their limitless potential, constantly taking a leap of faith to challenges in life and celebrates their courage.
Painted by brush, the large-scale floor piece echoes the same ideas as the column.
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CoBo Social Chinese Abstraction Series

In a 5-part mini series, we meet the Hong Kong street art artists and collectives who were invited to create new murals for the recently unveiled K11 MUSEA. This week, for the second in our series, we sat down with Kristopher Ho over a cup of coffee and a harbour view to discover more about the man behind the marker.

TEXT: Denise Tsui
IMAGES: Courtesy K11 MUSEA

Kristopher Ho in conversation with CoBo’s editorial team

 

“I’ve always been a big fan of comic books, Japanese manga, animations and cartoons.” Plagued by childhood asthma, Ho recalls travelling by ferry across Hong Kong’s harbour for doctor visits. “I was a hyperactive child. My mother had to give me a piece of paper and a pen to get me to do something so I didn’t fall off running around.” And that was how it all began for Ho.

At the age of 12, Ho left Hong Kong for boarding school in the UK. A self-proclaimed shy teen, Ho spent many hours of his formative years drawing. But you likely wouldn’t guess this when you meet the artist now. My first impressions of Ho were that of a friendly and outgoing character, with much to share and gracious humility to match. “I’m literally the small potato in the group,” insisted Ho, referring to the other artists who participated in the K11 MUSEA project. The circle for local street artists is comparatively small so everyone are friends, he explained. Ho felt the opportunity to work individually but together in one space was a rich, rewarding experience. “You get to learn so much more than just doing it on your own.”

 

“The Leap”, which explores the psychology of millenials and their limitless potential, constantly taking a leap of faith to challenges in life and celebrates their courage.

 

Freehand drawing in black marker is, without question, Ho’s signature and specialty. Ho’s distinctive drawing style is really what sets him apart in the sphere of street art. A graduate of London’s Central Saint Martins, Ho studied Graphic Design with a focus on Illustration. Choosing the black marker as his tool came naturally for Ho. “I just want to try the simplest tool. I want to explore the possibilities and how far you can push just working with marker.”

With strong influences from comics and Japanese manga, Ho’s biggest inspirations include Japanese manga artist Katsuya Terada, French artist Jean “Moebius” Giraud—famous for his Blueberry comic series—and Studio Ghibli co-founder Hayao Miyazaki. But Ho doesn’t aspire to be like them. Rather, he has set himself on an open-ended search of self-discovery. Having a recognized style isn’t enough. He wants to make it more personal. “Sometimes it’s very hard to find yourself, who you are and what you do. It’s more about having a deeper connection with yourself,” he mused. “I don’t want to be like the second Katsuya Terada.”

“So for me it’s not just about a gimmick or a certain theme that I want to do. It’s about everything as a whole, your technique, your theme all together.” When Ho was presented with the brief of Kidult for K11 MUSEA, his thoughts led him to picture a young lion. From there, he allowed his ideas to grow organically. This energy and dynamism reverberate through Ho’s works. With each line, each stroke of the marker, quickly his young lion came to life. “Commission murals push personal growth,” he explained. And certainly, this project gave Ho two new challenges—drawing on a column and working on the floor. “It just doesn’t look right from any angle. You think you’d be ok with attempting small pieces on the curve, then as you’re visualizing your position, your perspective changes on the curve!”

 

Painted by brush, the large-scale floor piece echoes the same ideas as the column.

 

To tackle the floor—a new surface for Ho—he had to abandon his beloved marker for the first time and pick up a brush. Dressed in overalls, he jokes about how much he looked like a construction worker, insofar he was mistaken for one on site. For his floor piece, Ho credits fellow artist and friend Bao for giving him crash course lessons on painting. While happy to have learnt a new skill, Ho quips he is happy to be back with his beloved black marker.

As we sat looking out into the harbour, Ho reflected on the changes we have seen in the rapidly evolving scene of street art in Hong Kong, as well as contemporary art. He notes the rising talents he is meeting and is excited to see what will happen in the course of the next few years in Hong Kong. The popularity of commissioned street art increasing in turn drives further opportunities for artists like himself. Meanwhile, for the man behind the marker, his desire for deep self-reflection and exploration continues. “I know I’m going down a really narrow path, but I think the deeper I keep digging into it, the more I discover about you can do with marker.”

 

 


 

Denise Tsui is currently the Editor for CoBo Social. A Hong Kong-born Aussie with an addiction to coffee, her research interests are primarily in the study of exhibition models and curatorial practices, and art from the Southeast Asia Region. Previously she was an editor for ArtAsiaPacific and curator for a private collection of Australian and New Zealand art. A condensed version of her postgraduate curatorial thesis on contemporary Indonesian art was published in the Journal of Southeast Asian Studies in 2015.

 

 

 
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