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Interview with SimpleBao, Visual Storyteller and Street Artist

SimpleBao is a Hong Kong-born and based self-taught artist who mainly loves freestyle work with murals and illustrations.

She started her career in 2015 and shortly afterward collaborated with various international brands. Bao has traveled and worked on projects in all corners of the globe including Australia, Switzerland, the UK, France, Taiwan, Mainland China, Japan, Indonesia, Italy, and the Czech Republic.

Official site | Instagram

China-underground: Can you tell us a little about you?

SimpleBao: My name is Bao. Bao is a nickname since I was little as my face was round like a bun. In Cantonese Bao means bun/bread.

My family and friends called me Bao. I think it is easy to remember so I’m still using it as my artist name.

I’ve been living with my painting for 4 years and I’m happy to do my work. 

SimpleBao make large-scale cartoon murals full of color. Her own style incorporate paint brushes and spray cans.

When and why did you get into freestyle work, murals and illustrations?

I like drawing since I was a kid. But I never really into it. When I grow up I became a graphic designer.

For 6-7 years and I realized it’s not something I want to do for my whole life so I quit my office daily job and start traveling. In the beginning, I do illustrations, caricature, and some canvas as busking and selling my work on the street to support my traveling.

After one year working holiday in Australia, I went to Europe. Eventually, I met some graffiti artists in Italy. They encouraged me to paint my first mural and showed me the world of street art.

What about your first art project?

The first mural I painted in Italy it was a graffiti jam in a small town. There were about 40-50 guys painting with a spray can.

They all super talented and very cool. But they put me in a quiet middle spot of the event.

I was the only one painting with brush and acrylic and it was the first time I paint on a mural. That was very unforgettable. 

SimpleBao discovered her talent for street art and murales in Italy.

What do you want to tell with your artwork? What are your main topic and focus?

I like combining my characters, animals, and nature with lots of details.

I’d like to create something that makes people happy and let them look into the details so they can also create their own story. 

Does your style reflect the way you see the world?

My characters represent some part of me. My main character names Bao and she came in my mind when I had depression and anxiety a few years ago.

When I’m painting something “cute” and “happy” I always mix with a bit of darkness. I know that life is not always full of brightness.

But even people like me, we can do something nice for the world. 

You can see in her works of street art and graffiti in Hong Kong, her influence from Japanese manga comics.

For a street artist, the city is like a canvas. What makes Hong Kong a unique place for street art compare to others?

I think street art in Hong Kong is still very new compared to other cities.

We have more opportunities and possibilities to develop the culture.

And we have loads of buildings which mean we have lots of canvases.

What are the main differences between freestyle work, murals, and graffiti in Asia and the West? Do you think that still exist cultural differences?

Every artist is unique and cultural differences always exist. From what we grow up with, the tradition we have in our country, etc.

But eventually, it always depends on the people. Not really where are they from?

I’ve seen Western graffiti writers doing Chinese letters and in Hong Kong, many artists even like me got inspired from Japanese manga as we all grew up with it.

Do you think that street art can be used to promote educational messages or philosophy of life?

I do think so. Lately, we have a big protest in Hong Kong. People make Lennon wall to express how they feel and what they think.

Some people put the bullet cartridges shot by the police at protesters on a bridge to show to the public what’s the situation of Hong Kong. To me, that’s real street art. It’s about recording life and expressing feelings.

Nike, 20th Century Fox, Google, Microsoft, Audi, Starbucks, Grand Hyatt, Starbucks, Uber, Mercedes Benz, Disaronno, RedBull, Tiger Beer, Vans, Swatch, Mandarin Oriental, The Peninsula Hotels, Redbull, etc are some of the many clients of SimpleBao

Can you share with us any story behind one of your artwork?

This mural is about planting a seed of love.

There’s a goddess in the middle. Her hair is the sea and the sky is her dress. Animals and a little girl sending their wishes and trying to help.

When the seed grows up it will become a big tree and giving all the creature a shelter 

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