You might follow, or have seen some of his quirky works dotted around Instagram. From cyberpunk landscapes featuring flying taxis and spaceships, to imaginative scenes where snowfall exists and giant animals roaming the land, Hong Kong photographer and surrealist artist Tommy Fung (@SurrealHK) has been known to transform the way we see the city by telling visual stories with photoshopped images, challenging our idea what’s real and what’s possible.
With over 140,000 followers on Instagram, Fung’s viral artworks aren’t just a clever blending of reality and lively dreams that offers us an endless supply of eye candy. Creative and fun images highlighting Hong Kong’s traditions aside, his portfolio is also a form of cultural expression that aims to raise awareness across a wide range of social issues, including the housing crisis, air pollution problem and political events.
The talented artist will be participating in Digital Art Fair Asia Edition 2021—the first-ever, largest physical and online fair in Asia dedicated to new media art, NFT crypto art and immersive art technology, which is set to open in Hong Kong from September 30 to October 17. Prior to the exhibition, we sat down with Fung for an exclusive interview to talk about how he strives to inspire people through his surreal photos, participating in the art fair, NFTs, and the future of Hong Kong’s digital art industry.
Tells us a little about your background. How did your passion for digital art come about?
My passion for digital art can be traced back to four years ago when I just moved back to Hong Kong, after spending much of my early life in Venezuela with family. I have always loved art and have been working as a professional photographer there. Moving to a new city is very exciting for me and I wanted to experiment with new ideas and do something different, interesting. While I was looking at what Hong Kong photographers were doing that time, I discovered that not many of them were using Photoshop to create imaginative scenes. Photoshopped images were even used to play pranks with the intention to humiliate people, so I was determined to make some positive changes in the community by creating meaningful surreal pictures.
After mastering Photoshop, I began creating surreal photos and sharing them on my Instagram account (@SurrealHK). Since 2017, I have been constantly introducing my audience to possible realities which are tangible in dreams within everyday situations, using Photoshop as a medium to express my emotions and ideas through digital art.
Your work spans many themes—from Hong Kong’s urban landscape to cultural traditions and social issues. Where do you draw inspiration from for your artworks, and what message do you want to convey through your images?
I draw inspiration for my work from my daily surroundings. Everything seemed to be very new and interesting to me in this vibrant city after relocating from Venezuela—there’s never really a dull moment living in Hong Kong. From news to movies, cityscapes and cultural traditions, the idea can come at any time, anywhere. I love to take photos, look at them and imagine how I can transform an ordinary scene into something extraordinary.
Many locals seldom take time to appreciate the small things in everyday life and the city’s unique traditions, or sometimes may not have paid enough attention to societal issues. That’s why in my surreal world of photo manipulations, you’ll not only find works showcasing the beauty of our city, but also images touching on social issues such as the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic and housing problem with my own point of view.
What artists or media would you say have been the biggest influences on you?
There are many amazing artists in the industry, but I don’t think there's a particular individual or art project that has influenced my work. I just want to do what’s uniquely myself and continue to develop my own distinct aesthetic style. It’s always important to be original and creative as an artist.