Walking around the streets of HK, one might notice a surge in graffiti and street art, definitely more noticeable now than a decade ago. In a city with a modest graff community, a few names stand out from the rest, one of which we are honored to have as our next Artist Feature.
If you look hard enough and keep an eye out, you'll start to appreciate the art form that so few decide to take on. You start to wonder how these artists manage to hit certain spots, how they managed to throw up such an elaborate piece and get away with it.
It goes without saying, that Graffiti Art is no easy task to take on, and not the easiest thing to learn. But as Xeme says in this interview, put in the time and really hone in on your passion - and everything else will follow.
For this Artist Feature, we are proud to be spending a few minutes with legendary HK Graffiti Artist - XEME.
"You shouldn't rush when making a name for yourself, especially when you're just starting out... Also, spend 10,000 hours of working on your passion."
Gahyao: Hi Xeme, it’s an honor to have you chat with us. Thanks for taking the time! Let's start with introducing yourself - what’s your name and what do you do?
Xeme: My name's Xeme, I’m a surgeon.
G: For the peeps out there who don't know, why'd you choose to write XEME (is it pronounced Seem or See Mee?!)
X: It’s pronounced “Seem”, which I picked out from the dictionary. It's been pronounced both ways, I personally don’t mind nor have any preferences.
G: Are you in HK right now or travelling?
X: Right now? STUCK in Hong Kong!
G: What was your first memory of being an artist?
X: I have a pretty bad memory to be honest! I never really had a clear idea whether I’d call myself an artist or not, I have no idea.
G: Were you always a skilled artist? What drew you into graffiti.
X: Growing up, I wasn't really into art... But there was something cool about graffiti that got me into it.
G: You’re known to us as one of the earliest painters in HK, if not the earliest then definitely one of the most prominent... Walk us through how this happened.
X: Hmm I don’t know.. I liked getting out and painting, and kept doing it consistently over the years..
G: Seems you travel a lot for the art - does it feel like work or is it still fun after all these years?
X: Travelling is normally for fun. I don’t travel specifically for graff, so definitely leisure comes first!
G: I guess like any other creative it’s easy to come to a mental block.. How do you get passed it?
X: I don't think you ever do lol! Just let it come and let it pass, time normally helps. Talking it out with other people and artists also help.
X: Traveling and experiencing different cultures, food and art of course.
G: Most memorable piece?
X: The roller piece I did with Yumoh, I nearly broke my neck!
G: You nearly broke your neck?! How'd that happen?
X: Oh! It was fatigue, we painted every Friday, Saturday & Sunday for a whole month.
G: Do you ever worry about the illegality of what we do?
X: Nope, let’s leave that to the lawyers!
G: You’re good friends with Yumoh - are you able to tell us what happened?
X: I think you should do an interview with him and let him speak.
G: There seems to be so much support around him - it’s great that there’s such a big community behind graff given that the scene in HK is super small.
X: Yeah, he’s a kind person...
G: Street art vs Graffiti - what’s your stand?
X: I support anything that comes from people with good intentions. I love graff, but honestly there are a few dickheads, just like in any industry. I’m not a big fan of street art, but there are a lot of good stuff coming out of it. And some of the street art guys are just dope people.
G: Social media - it’s easy for people to access graffiti and graffiti artists - do you think it loses its magic?
X: It's both good and bad. It really depends on how the user takes it. Some guys have good principles and get inspired by things they see online and turn it into something fresh, something creative. On the other hand some people are just so desperate for fame that they would copy anything and think nobody notices.
G: It’s obviously a struggle to make a name in the industry and then break through to commercial success - Any advise for people who want to start?
X: You shouldn't rush when making a name for yourself, especially when you're just starting out. Just take your time, see enough art to build good judgment. Also, spend 10,000 hours of working on your passion. The fame and money would eventually come. That applies to any field, not just graff.
G: What are you up to these days?
X: Trapped in the house!
G: Any plans for 2020? Something to look forward to?
X: I don't really know, depends how this virus thing goes. It's been pretty slow the last few months, but I'm hoping to do a show in HK with a friend of mine.
G: Where can people see your work?
X: I'm on Instagram: @xememex
G: What does Ga Yau mean to you?
X: Something I'll say to you now that's really relevant, Ga yau!