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TK Chan, renowned for her unique artistry, is a guiding light for emerging artists.

Written by: Jeremy Chapnick
Photos by: Raymond Chan

Over an afternoon tea, we spoke with Ms Chan to gain her valuable insights and practical advice for those navigating the art world. Drawing from her experiences as a self-taught artist and gallery founder, TK imparts wisdom on resilience, diversification, and networking. Her approachable mentorship style, coupled with her deep understanding of the challenges in the art industry, makes her advice not only inspiring but also highly applicable for aspiring artists seeking to carve their path.

On her experience and lessons as a self-taught artist:

Reflecting on her early years, she says, "I've been passionate about art since I was young," highlighting the joy and companionship she found in art classes with friends. As life evolved, so did her art practice. Juggling a full-time job and travel, she embraced the challenge, finding "pockets of time to learn basic techniques of new mediums," thus continuing her artistic journey.

Chan speaks to the heart of the self-taught artist's experience: a path filled with "ups and downs" and a "journey of discovery." Her philosophy? She advises against overthinking, emphasizing action and reflection as key to development.

"Engage with the process and share what you create, learning as you go. Passion, commitment, and the courage to leave your comfort zone are essential for meaningful growth in art and life."

Her journey underscores a vital truth for aspiring artists: growth stems from a blend of formal education and the freedom to experiment. This narrative not only offers a roadmap for artistic development but also serves as an inspiration for those seeking to carve their path in the world of art.

On addressing the complexities budding artists in Hong Kong face:

Reflecting on her own journey, she acknowledges, "The life of an artist comes with its own set of challenges," pinpointing the uncertain nature of income and practical issues like artwork storage. She candidly shares her experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic, which "disrupted physical exhibitions and sales opportunities."

Chan's advice for navigating these challenges is strategic and multifaceted. She advocates for "leveraging social media platforms" to expand one's audience and suggests "making a presence at art gallery openings and fairs" as crucial for networking and staying current with trends.

She highlights the support available to artists: “Programs such as those offered by New World Developer and Po Leung Kuk provide artists with spaces to create and display their work." She also encourages artists to explore opportunities like "funding from bodies like the Arts Development Council," which are instrumental in overcoming financial and logistical hurdles.

She also offered insightful advice to young artists grappling with parental approval.

She suggests, "Making a day of exploring museums or attending art exhibitions" as a means for families to bond and understand the art world together. Chan believes this approach fosters a "collective appreciation and understanding of art within the family unit." Further, she advises young artists to become active in "art associations and participating in art-related activities and shows," allowing both the artists and their families to engage with the art community.

She acknowledges the challenge of balancing professional obligations and artistic pursuits, recommending that artists use their downtime effectively. As artists grow more confident and start "to pinpoint their unique artistic voice," Chan emphasizes the importance of planning a focused period for art development, ensuring they can pursue their passion with a strong foundation and family support.

We also discussed the essential traits needed to run a successful creative business.

She believes success requires "an amalgamation of creativity, sharp business instincts, flexibility, networking, and collaboration." Chan emphasizes networking and collaboration, explaining that these aspects are critical for the "exchange of ideas, insights, and firsthand experiences," which are invaluable for strategic business planning.

"By fostering connections with peers, mentors, and professionals, artists and entrepreneurs can open doors to collaborative projects, leading to benefits like cost efficiencies and expanded clientele."

Chan also underscores the importance of communication skills in the creative sector. Effective communication is the bedrock for negotiating, sharing visions, and resolving conflicts. Maintaining "positive and productive relationships with clients and collaborators" is, in her view, the cornerstone of longevity and prosperity in the creative industry.

Chan concludes by emphasizing the value of these relationships in building a strong reputation, ensuring repeat business, and facilitating referrals, all of which are crucial for a thriving creative enterprise.

Connect, Inspire, and Empower

Throughout her journey, Chan has shown that the path to success in art and business is paved with the connections we forge, the inspiration we draw from our surroundings, and the empowerment that comes from shared experiences and knowledge. Her advice to budding artists—embracing networking, collaboration, and clear communication—speaks to the heart of building a thriving creative career. Chan's narrative is not just a guide for aspiring artists but a testament to the power of community and resilience in the face of challenges. Her story is a beacon of encouragement, urging every artist to connect deeply, inspire boldly, and empower continuously.


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