What does being creative mean? YDC, together with MINDLY.JOURNAL, interview three creatives from different genres to uncover what it’s like to be a creative in Hong Kong, and what they want to leave behind in this world. Their insights might open your eyes about creativity and being in a creative career. Are you ready to show your creations to the world at this year’s YDC TO BE SEEN?

Being creative is in my blood. It's the curiosity that you've had since childhood. When you're curious, you question things, and then you start to create things.” - Eric Kot

With three decades of experience in the creative industry, Kot is very much a creative icon. For him, creating is in his blood. If he can't find something he wants, he would make it himself. He lives in a state of perpetual dissatisfaction that drives him to always strive for something better. He believes that in order to create, one must possess certain qualities. “You need to question everything, to be nosy, curious, and skeptical like a gossiping housewife, but with critical thinking. If you’ve had this trait since childhood, you can be a creative.”

 Q1. As a creative, how would you like to be remembered?

Kot: Why should the world remember you? If it wants to remember, it will.
I feel that whatever you do, you shouldn’t see it as work. You get pleasure through design and creation, making the journey richer. Even eating out can be a creative process. If you need to go to Wanchai, but don’t like taking the tram, bus or the MTR, why not take a 5km walk to enjoy the scenery?

That walk could be part of an enriching design process that makes the scenery more beautiful for you.

Kot says that creative work doesn’t necessarily yield returns, but he loves encouraging young people to explore, to keep the fire burning, and keep moving forward with an adventurous spirit. He stresses that “moving forward is creating, not just producing something. Creating brings surprises and new ideas. Sometimes a new form emerges that pushes things forward, breaks through boundaries, and makes progress. On the other hand, producing is repeating the old, so they are two different realms.” Even after years of creating, he still asks himself: “If what the world currently does not feel very satisfactory, why not turn the dissatisfaction into something that you want to pursue so that you can continue to learn?”

Q2. As an icon of Hong Kong design, what do you think is the most difficult aspect of being a creative in Hong Kong?

Kot: The problem isn’t unique to Hong Kong; it’s the same around the world. We shouldn’t assume that creativity is limited by borders, race, or region. You can find creativity among indigenous people who can create amazing and mind-blowing things.

Some people say, “Stay hungry.” When you're hungry or thirsty for something, you think of ways to satisfy that hunger or thirst. Whether it’s a particular style of clothing or an additional feature, if you can't find it in the market, you ask: “Can I make it myself?”

I often find myself thinking that certain things are just a little off, so could be improved. “If it were like this, it would be perfect. So I improve them to satisfy myself.”

“Since nothing can satisfy you completely, you try to create something that you’re happy with yourself. That's the motivation. Because you’re not satisfied, you try to create it.”

The hardships of creatives are only known to creatives themselves. They put in much effort to achieve something they believe in, which takes a lot of determination. They must have the courage to give without expecting anything in return. Creating sounds sacred, but in practice, there is also a need for “production” to support the creative process. Innovation and the market are intertwined.

Kot: "The business world won’t compensate you for the hardships you endured during the design process, or for the things that failed. It only cares about the value of the finished product. It might be worth HK$5, but you may have already invested HK$5,000 worth of time and effort to create this HK$5 product.”

Creating knows no boundaries; it branches out.

Kot: Say you’re in the fashion business, dealing with shirts, trousers, shoes, and socks. You may find yourself delving into packaging and studying the printing process of paper boxes. Slowly, you then venture into another realm - can those boxes be folded differently? Can they be turned into something edible? Something that is disposable? From packaging to food, to sustainability, step by step, you’re branching out organically.”

Kot has an innate curiosity, and can speak endlessly about the interconnected realms of creation. When asked what he's most proud of, he says:

“If I were already at the top of the world, I should retire. I don’t think anything that I create would make me proud. If I have done that, then it’s probably time to leave.”

“I don’t want the world to define me by a superficial image of my creative work. This limits my creativity.” — NICOLE LAW

Nicole, who travels the world interviewing trendsetters for Outfit Check, is not only an online content creator but also has a brand. Her creation stems from her love of fashion and dressing up. For relatively reserved Hong Kongers, Outfit Check might be considered too quirky, but from Nicole's perspective, it’s about appreciating and admiring individuals with a daring sense of style and, willing to share their fashion in an entertaining manner.

Q1. What does creating mean to you?

Nicole: “To me, creating is about bringing to life some of the ideas and images in my head, and the process helps you discover and explore yourself. Creations from different periods reflect different stages of myself.”

Q2. What kind of creation do you dislike the most?

Nicole: “I dislike creating just for creating’s sake, or purely following trends because others are doing it. I don't like creating anything that deviates from the self.”

Every creative presents an image to the world, often being typecast as a certain type of creative, while the motivation, purpose, or messages behind their creations are overlooked. The world only sees the surface of one’s creative work and defines them, thus limiting creativity.

Q3. As a creative, how would you like to be remembered?

Nicole: “I hope at least some of my works will be remembered by my target audience. For example, my necklaces are made for creative folks, such as DJs who go to parties. I would be happy if they remember my brand or design, or even me. I hope these works can speak to my target audience, and leave a lasting impression on them.”

Q4. You are a slasher–a designer and content creator. What do you dislike most about Hong Kong’s creative culture? How do you encourage others to continue their creative journeys?

Nicole: “I think Hong Kong needs to embrace the creative culture more. Sometimes, people are quick to criticise, and this environment can really hinder a creative’s work.

I believe creatives should come together and motivate each other to continue pursuing what they believe in. Even if you receive negative comments, you should still keep going." 

“I want people to appreciate my design and still feel proud of it after owning it for some time. It’s timelessness that I’m after.” - Karmuel Young

Karmuel Young, a native Hong Kong fashion designer, set up his eponymous label in 2014, which is now garnering international attention. Becoming a fashion designer may sound like a dream, but to operate a brand, he says: “You have to love it, really love it, really love it, before you can persist in creating fashion. If you have that kind of passion, act now!”

Q1. What kind of creation do you dislike the most?

Karmuel: "The kind of creation I dislike the most is when you already have an answer. When you already know the outcome, there’s no need to go through the whole process of creating something and arriving at a predetermined result.”

Q2. What are you most proud of?

Karmuel: “I'm most proud when someone appreciates my design, and even after some time, still feels proud of owning it. That’s what I want to achieve. Timelessness is an important concept in my design philosophy.”

Q3. What does creating mean to you?

Karmuel: “Creating, to me, is personal expression. It's about having different experiences and reactions, resulting in different outcomes.”

Q4. What’s the toughest part of being a designer in Hong Kong? What keeps you going?

Karmuel: "I wouldn’t say it’s tough but one should ask oneself how much they love what they do. That love isn't just a simple love, it’s 10 times more than that. Only then can you persevere. You have to really, really love it before you can persist in making fashion.

To be a fashion designer, to run a brand, besides minding all aspects of the business, you have to find the right community to promote your ideas, where you can tell your story and use your brand for storytelling.

Making a good piece of garment is just the minimum requirement. The next step is how to make more people recognise it as good design. For me, that’s a bigger chapter. 

YDC 2024 “TO BE SEEN” Apply now!

This year’s “Hong Kong Young Fashion Designers' Contest” (YDC) breaks geographical boundaries and is recruiting budding Hong Kong fashion designers based internationally. Committed to awakening young creative minds, we will be inviting design talents from Hong Kong in fashion capitals like New York, Paris, London, and Hong Kong to unleash their boundless creativity and present the most stylish side of our city.

The 21st century sees a younger generation fearlessly living in the present, expressing themselves, and wanting to be seen. They are eager to unleash their talent to the world. While recruiting this group of fashion talents worldwide, YDC encourages them to push boundaries, and showcase their unique aesthetics, superior concepts and cutting-edge skills. This is your time to shine, TO BE SEEN, and make Hong Kong proud. If you love fashion, seize this opportunity now. You could be the next big star of Hong Kong fashion!

Application link: www.fashionally.com/en/YDC/detail/2024
Application deadline: 29 April 2024, 23:59 HKT
Presentation board submission deadline: 3 May 2024, 17:00 HKT

Creative director & interview: @syanleung
Photographer & videographer: @iiimanust
Producer & text: @emotional.eyes

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