Hong Yi, also famously known as Red, was born in 1987. She was born in Kota Kinabalu, the capital of Sabah in Malaysia. Hong Yi is famously known for using unconventional material to create amazing art. She is an artist who does not comply to the paintbrush technique, and uses different material sourced locally to create portraits of people. These materials can be as common as tea bags. This stroke of genius was by accident when she realized that she had forgotten her materials back in Melbourne.
She was unable to work on her art skills while in school as multitasking was difficult at the time. Pressurized by the requirements of school, she put her skills to the back burner and focused on school. She had time however, to jot down some notes and scribble designs, but focusing mainly on her passion for architecture.
She moved from Malaysia and decided to settle in the busy city of Shanghai as she fell in love with the city’s chaotic nature. She is a graduate from the University of Melbourne, where she acquired a Bachelor’s degree in planning and design in 2007. She also went ahead in 2010 to acquire a MA in Architecture from the same university. After acquiring her certifications, she moved to Shanghai and worked for an Australian firm, HASSEL that deals with architecture.
Inspired by her shanghai surroundings, she decided to document her new adventure in Shanghai, uploading videos that soon were to go viral on YouTube.With encouragement from her bossto take a sabbatical, she explored art using local materials.
Her debut to the world was back in 2012 when she recorded a video painting Yao Ming a famous Chinese basketball prayer. The video got over 10,000 views the first week and shot up to 50,000 views after being featured on Gizmodo a tech site. News networks like ABC, picked up the story and Red became the sensation that she is.Since 2013 after quitting her office job, Red has stamped her art presence as one of the most dynamic artists there is.
Her work and style
Red is known for her brilliance in using different material to attain different textures. Red says “Architecture school taught me that there are many directions, possibilities and techniques out there”. She used materials like sunflower seeds to paint artist like Ai Weiwei, and up to 2000 socks just to make Zhang Yimao’s portrait.
She used chilli to paint Justin Bieber and chopsticks to make Jackie Chan a portrait that he, commissioned himself. She has used materials like coffee dregs, dyed carnations, and melted tea light candles. She says “I like to use ordinary, mundane objects and materials that may often be overlooked, and turn them into something unexpected and meaningful”. She has also used makeup, candy, food items, flower petals, and continues to explore new materials daily.
Red’s growth in mainstream art
Red has claimed success by her own right. Her first accolade was back when she was seven, attaining second place in an art competition. She got recognised in 2009 by SONA superstudio, an Australian competition. She has gotten recognition from international stars like Jackie Chan, who commissioned a portrait on his 60th birthday. She has presented her work of “Teh Tarik Man” during the World Economic Forum in Switzerland.
She was named among the Brilliant Artist Award and named among the top brilliant Malaysians by Esquire magazine. She has rubbed shoulders with big names while speaking at the EG conference. She has been recognised by gig publications like TIME, Wall street journal, Huffington post and Fast company. Back in 2015, she gunnerd the ASEAN Outstanding Business Award
She has been part of international campaigns like Nespresso and other international brands like Ponds. She has been invited to speak at TEDxkl and APEC young entrepreneur conference. She was names by Australia Unlimited as one of one of the 19 “future chasers” Perspective 40 under 40 also names her, a shaper of the future design world.
She hopes to change the future landscape of art using her architectural skills that she has gained. Inspired by the quote “Move fast and break things and Keep on shipping” she hopes to push her boundaries even further and achieve bigger and better goals. She takes time to travel the world in conferences and temporary teaching assignments to show others how to encompass architecture and design in their art.
For a trend setter like Hong Yi, the sky is the limit. A strong believer in chasing one’s dreams, Hong Yi encourages upcoming artist to work hard at their craft, and to never stop running after their dreams. Her name has been put up with some of the greatest innovative artists of our time. To see her amazing work, visit her website and let your eyes behold the future.