05 Dec How Local Designers Create Unique Hong Kong Map Art Prints
We are proud of everything we create with locals — from our travel app to our Hong Kong board game — but the illustrated neighbourhood maps hold a special place in our heart. Why? Because designing a map is truly a labour of love. It takes hours and hours (and then some!) to turn a list of hidden gems, popular hotspots and surprising sites into a scaled and meticulously illustrated poetic ode to a neighbourhood. As we’re working with different local designers to capture the spirit of different hoods, we thought it would be fun to gather some of the creative minds behind our beautifully designed Hong Kong map art prints together for a sharing session. Over many a cup of coffee, they spoke about their creative process, what they love about local life, and more.
Toby: My first studio was located in Kwun Tong, so I thought I know the place pretty well… until I drew the map, that is! There are still parts I haven’t explored yet, even though I was there every day for two years. My favourite place in Kwun Tong is the bus depot. I passed by it a lot. Its raw and faded facade is starkly different from the surrounding buildings. It looks like it’s frozen in time. I always imagine mysterious things happening there at night!
For me, the most fun part of designing maps is always discovering or rediscovering a certain place. No matter whether I’ve been to that particular place or not, I always find new interesting spots and facts about it when researching! The iDiscover maps were especially interesting to design, as you guys have locals and other experts helping with marking the points of interest on the maps.
Purchase Toby’s Kwun Tong neighbourhood map here.
Toby: For Lei Yue Mun, I like the area at the quarry. The landscape that the historic quarry has created is quite unique. And when you’re there, you see this really rough mountain with geometric and colourful carving marks, and when you turn around, you’re looking at the rough sea. I love this contrast.
Compositing the map was a bit challenging. When you illustrate a map, the biggest questions you ask yourself are “how do I want to orient this map? How much do I want to show besides the given points of interest?”. The POIs are always scattered, but I don’t want the map to look too scattered and keep the visual relatively interesting, so I have to find the right balance.
My personal favourite part of both the Kwun Tong and Lei Yue Mun maps are the colours. After I’ve done my research on a particular place, I always have a colour palette in my mind that represents the atmosphere of the area. These colours carry the emotions and impressions I have for that place and I cling on it during the whole design process, as it guides me on how I should approach different elements.
Purchase Toby’s Lei Yue Mun neighbourhood map here.
“Designing this map was a trip down memory lane”
Kelv: I hung out a lot in Kowloon City as a teenager, so designing this map was a trip down memory lane! I still remember the sound of the planes heading to Kai Tak airport. They were flying so low, it seemed like they were right above my head!
The sweet soup restaurant on the map is one of the places I usually visit after dinner with my friends or classmates. I drew my favourite dessert on the map. I also love having Thai food in Kowloon City.
It was challenging to find the right balance between our ‘nostalgic’ style and creating a clear map that is easy to read. The calligraphy of the ‘King of Kowloon’ is my favourite part of my map design; reinventing his artwork helped me understand his brushstrokes.
Purchase Kelv’s Kowloon City neighbourhood map here.
Candy Chu: There are too many interesting things to see and places to visit in Wan Chai — it was hard to figure out how to include them all without making the map too complicated! I personally like the illustration of Nam Koo Terrace most.
My secondary school is near Wan Chai so I used to spend quite a lot of time in the area. I still visit the area often, as I find many shops there to be very interesting. I like how the shops are still on street level in Wan Chai – there are very few places in Hong Kong where shops aren’t just tucked away inside big shopping malls. Among all the places I like St. Francis Yard the most because there is a cute book shop and the street itself is a hidden gem away from the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong.
Purchase Candy’s Wan Chai neighbourhood map here.
“What I enjoy most about being part of this project is knowing that there are other people out there who treasure the people and small stories of Hong Kong”
Connie: I like combining the past and present in my designs, as well as putting stories and beautiful encounters into an interesting visual form. What I enjoy most about being part of this project is knowing that there are other people out there who treasure the people and small stories of Hong Kong. I like illustrating Sheung Wan, as it has many hidden corners Hong Kongers don’t even know about. I also love having the freedom to write many stories into my map design. It was difficult to resize something so big to a smaller printed form though!
Purchase Connie’s Sheung Wan neighbourhood map here.
I like Aberdeen — it inspires me. I have to admit that I had a little bit of a culture shock when I visited Aberdeen for the first time. Just like some people may think that you’ll see cattle everywhere in Yuen Long, which is where I was born, I imagined that everyone in Aberdeen could sail. If I had a second chance to design this map, I would put more focus on the relationship between the sea and the people in Aberdeen, since the ocean is the main influence on the culture there.
Purchase Don’s Aberdeen neighbourhood map here.
Carmen: I rarely go to Sai Ying Pun so it was fun to discover some new shops and other spots there! The streets’ names confused me at first because I didn’t know much about the place. It took me some time to do the research.
I do like the atmosphere in SYP. It’s a very quiet and peaceful area, the local people are friendly and the streets are tidy and less crowded. The small shops owned by locals are worth a visit. SYP is a very good place to relax during the weekend. I highly recommend people to go for a walk in there if you want to take a break from busy city life!
Purchase Carmen’s Sai Ying Pun neighbourhood map here.
Want to hang these unique Hong Kong map art prints on your wall?
You can! To honour the hard work of our designers, we decided to print the Hong Kong neighbourhood maps on beautiful smooth 200gsm Hahnemuhle Photo Matte Fibre paper, proudly printed in Hong Kong to ensure a quality artwork. Click here to head over to our online store to shop the designs!
Our app, board game, city guides, neighbourhood maps and framed prints are created by locals, designed by locals and powered by locals… with a little help from iDiscover. Hear their stories, share their passion and learn what they love! iDiscover is your go-to guide for hidden gems, popular local hotspots, and surprising sites in the neighbourhood, all hand-picked by locals, so that you can shop locally and travel responsibly.