Art, Design

Sophia Hotung: NOC Artist Series

16 JAN 2024

At NOC, we go beyond serving coffee and wholesome bites; we infuse art into every corner to curate an immersive experience for our guests while supporting talented artists. Local artist Sophia Hotung, renowned for her ‘The Hong Konger’ series, has created a captivating cover illustration for our newly launched coffee table book, ‘The Curated’.

Her journey from being a self-taught artist as an IT auditor to establishing a name in the art scene is truly inspiring. Join us for an art & coffee chat with Sophia and explore her world over a cup of coffee.

1. Where do you usually find inspiration for your creations?

I get inspiration by mashing-up unlikely combos. With The Hong Konger, I mashed up New Yorker Magazine covers with Hong Kong sights and memories. For the cover of NOC’s Coffee Table Book, I mashed up a mural I made at the Affordable Art Fair 2022 called Heart Times with coffee-drinking. Mashing up two disparate ideas is my go-to method to overcome creative blocks: I keep Pinterest boards, photo folders, and notebooks full of ideas and like to challenge myself sometimes to make two different things work together.

'Colours & Whites', 2021-2022, Sophia Hotung
'Portals', 2021-2022, Sophia Hotung

2. How long does it take you to finish each piece of work?

It can take a day or it can take months! There are many factors like how complicated a piece is, how my chronic illnesses are affecting my physical abilities, or how busy I am with life itself. There are two things that make the work feel fast though. The first is when the work is fun. The second is coffee!

3. Can you tell us more about the work that you co-curated with NOC? How do you feel about it?

I think it’s a fun and cute snapshot of Hong Kongers from all walks of life unifying over coffee. I had so much fun making the different personalities shine through with outfits, hairdos, ages, ethnicities, and props. Most of all I like the message behind it that NOC and I developed together: no matter how different we may seem, simple things like the perfect cup of coffee can bring us together.

4. What advice would you give to any young artists, like yourself, who are just starting out?

When I give school talks to art students, I give them a piece of paper titled “Notes on Creating a Portfolio”. It says this:

Keep records of everything you create
Nobody needs to see everything you create
Making bad art is necessary to making good art
Nobody knows what bad art is
Nobody knows what good art is
Take two artworks and hybridise them
Take two media and hybridise them
Diarise your adventures in creativity
Recognise that creativity can feel like work
Enjoy the work
Do the work

5. What are your thoughts on being a Hong Kong artist? What does Hong Kong mean to you?

I think artists in Hong Kong are particularly lucky because our city has cultivated a very unique and healthy environment for artists to thrive.

First off, art is everywhere. Whether it’s in the galleries and museums or around us in everyday life, I’m always overwhelmed by how much of this city I want to recreate on my digital canvas.

Secondly, Hong Kong benefits from wealthy art collectors. One of my main jobs is to create art that raises money for local charities. This can only happen if there is a community of art-lovers who are willing and able to pay for art.

Thirdly, Hong Kongers are generous. When I started creating art, the art community welcomed me into the fold and taught me so much.

I feel lucky to be a Hong Konger and to have grown up and work in a city that supports my industry.

'Courtship', 2021-2022, Sophia Hotung

6. Is there a relationship between art and coffee? Is there anything specific you would like to explore further?

One word that comes to mind for both ‘art’ and ‘coffee’ is ‘taste’. My dad is a coffee buff who can decipher the origin, roasting process just by tasting it. While I can’t tell if the coffee is stale or not, we both still appreciate coffee in our own ways. Similarly, art is subjective, with some drawn to high-art and others to kitschy art. Ultimately, what matters is finding joy, whether it’s on a canvas or in a cup!

7. Last, but not least, how do you take your coffee?

I try to change it up every time I go to a coffee shop, so I particularly enjoy going to coffee shops that experiment. Trying different caffeinated creations is like learning to appreciate different forms of art!

'Take Heart', 2021-2022, Sophia Hotung
'Balconies', 2021-2022, Sophia Hotung
'Junk Party', 2023, Sophia Hotung
'Airforce Amber', 2021, Sophia Hotung

About Sophia Hotung

Sophia Hotung is a Eurasian Hong Kong writer and illustrator, best known for creating The Hong Konger art collection while bedridden from autoimmune diseases. Sophia is the author of The Hong Konger Anthology, The Heist of Hooded Light, and her work has been exhibited across Hong Kong at the Digital Art Fair, Affordable Art Fair, Oi Ling Antiques, Soho House, and K11 ARTUS. Her company, Pangolin Society creates art with local charities to fundraise and set up indefinite passive income streams. As a disability advocate, Sophia channels proceeds from her art and books into initiatives for chronic disability issues, women’s rights, and arts and literature in Hong Kong.


Instagram: @sophiahotung