Tommy Fung originally set out to be a graphic designer. But he quickly found the freedom and flexibility of his college passion — photography — to be more attractive. After moving back to his native Hong Kong, he traded portrait and event photography for uniquely humorous, surreal shots of the city that he edited in Photoshop and posted on Instagram.
Recently, Tommy Fung won the “Discovery: Photography Prize” competition held by the Affordable Art Fair in collaboration with Hotel Jen. 30 of his works — including the winning piece — were displayed at Hotel Jen until August 2, and now, they’re travelling to Hotel Jen properties in Beijing and Singapore.
Fung lived in Hong Kong until he was nine, but spent most of his life (almost three decades, in fact) living in Venezuela with his family. He returned to Hong Kong three and a half years ago due to increased political and social turmoil in the South American nation.
When I came back to Hong Kong, everything looked new and interesting. I was very excited to see everything. I started to discover that the city is quite surreal, even though it’s real life. I thought, why not exaggerate it to highlight this surreal quality? This is the kind of humor I used in Venezuela — exaggeration and hyperbole. We made jokes all the time, about everything. It was very natural for me. I wanted to make people laugh.
Once I have an idea, I put it down on paper so I don’t forget it. Then I go to different places, taking different photos for the list. But at other times, I just walk around and take photos. I can work both ways.
My art is often inspired by classic movies. I’ve previously done some flying taxi artworks before, but for this recent version [shown at Hotel Jen], I added some lighting and made it more obvious that it’s inspired by Back to the Future.
[Seeing a full-size photograph in real life] is different than seeing it on Instagram. Viewers can actually see the details of the editing. Normally, I hide my watermark somewhere but in print, people can find it. It’s like a game.
People should try different techniques and see what they like. Once they learn some of the techniques, they should try to find their own style and make everything that they do more personal. Try not to copy what others are doing.
One of the areas I really want to photograph is Sai Kung. It’s a very big place. It’s like another country.When i started this, it was just for fun. I wanted to do something that made me happy, and that made other people happy, too. Since people had a good response to it, this became like my full time job. I can’t do it all the time, but I hope that in the future I can work on it more.
From our Hot Seat series.