【Intimate Portrait】Sense and Sensibility / Li Ka-fai, Ziggy
What do you associate when you come across adjectives such as fluffy, round and lovable? Most of us may think of girly knick-knacks or cartoons. But what if a man is drawn to fluffy stuff, and creates round and endearing characters? There is nothing “unmanly” about it, of course, and the male gender is fully entitled to “being cute”, too.
Li Ka-fai, Ziggy is the man of cute. A graphic designer and illustrator by trade, Li has also dabbled in arts research and handicraft. While his mind is usually logical and practical as required by a designer, deep down he is also a man of sensibility. Bringing out forgotten childlike qualities and warm fuzzy feelings are some of the effects his works have on his audience.
L: Li Ka-fai, Ziggy
J: What prompted you to embark on arts research? And what does being a freelancer mean to you?
L: I had been teaching drawing part-time, and originally planned to be an arts teacher in a secondary or primary school upon my completion of a diploma in education. After an internship, however, I realised that teaching arts at school is not at all how I expected. It was difficult to concentrate on teaching with a heavy load of administrative duties, not to mention the big classes I had to look after. Therefore, I decided not to pursue a teaching career despite being offered a position. Coincidentally, at that time an acquainted professor invited me to assist with her research on arts theory, I accepted the offer and, five and a half years flew by, I had supported the research, as well as designed the interface of the related webpage and mobile application.
Being a freelancer is a one-man band. There are definitely more things to learn than a normal desk job. I rather enjoy liaising with the clients. I used to be annoyed and unwilling to compromise when met with demanding clients. But I have since learned to identify their concerns and perspectives, which is quite useful in having a persuasive discussion. Whenever I finished a project, I feel “levelled up” and elevated to a new phase in life.
J: Are your works usually inspired by everyday objects? What usually draws your
L: I like to observe and take pictures of objects that resemble human faces, such as power sockets – with two circles and a straight line staring back at me as if they were alife. (Ed: This is called Pareidolia in study) Some years ago, I participated in the “Between Objects” exhibition at the Hong Kong Baptist University Communication and Visual Arts Building, which showcased our connections with everyday objects. For this exhibition, we borrowed three erasers and recorded their history, including the time spent with their owners. The interesting thing about erasers is that they are rarely used up completely, but seem to grow legs and would go missing suddenly. Meanwhile, for the work about a crayon – Getting Old in One Painting, I drew inspiration from human growth. When we grow up, our height increases, life experience accumulates with age. On the contrary, a crayon simply “ages” and reduces in size by every “living” day.
J: There is a delicate if not youthful and feminine touch in your drawings. Is this soothing and adorable visual style somehow reflective of your mind?
L: I am used to doodling with felt pens and markers. This is how my character Fat Boy, with beady eyes and a round figure, was created. At handicraft fairs, I am often told by customers that they are surprised to know these illustrative works are drawn by a man. I think this drawing style may be related to my preference for fluffy things, as they remind me of my comfort blanket from childhood. Even as a grown man, I am still rather childish (chuckles).
Original article【JCCAC Intimate Portrait】: https://www.jccac.org.hk/?a=doc&id=7564