Hong Kong's Creative Powerhouses to Watch: Melissa Bui

Melissa Bui in her Sheung Wan studio

Canadian Melissa Bui has long had a creative streak, being particularly drawn towards crafts, painting and drawing while growing up. A self-described experimental artist, she studied textile design in London before going on to work alongside leading Hong Kong couturier Barney Cheng. It was there she formed her foundational skills of designing and creating custom evening wear.

In 2013, Bui launched her own brand, Melissa Bui Atelier, focusing on whimsical and feminine designs. Her creations quickly became gala favourites with many local models and socialites choosing her delicate designs over those by global fashion houses. “It was such a rewarding experience, as it brought me joy every time I saw a client happily wearing one of my designs,” she says.

But running a business alone was not all glamorous and Bui, feeling overwhelmed with changes both personal and globally, decided to take a step back and rediscover her love of design at a more fundamental level. She currently freelances as an illustrator and mural artist, creating illustrations for commercial products and packaging, and brightening up blank walls in private homes and commercial spaces.

Starting out, what was your biggest hurdle?
I’d say it was finding my voice as an illustrator and mural artist. For a while, I was so fixated on having a certain style and look I forgot that finding your voice is a creative journey, which is ever-changing. For now, I’m more detail- and colour-oriented with a focus on floral and fauna.

What does an average workday look like for you?
Coffee – lots and lots of coffee to start my day. Then, if the weather’s nice, I’ll head into the studio with my dog Daisy and start working. I’ll usually try to get some emails and admin out of the way first before getting down to the fun things like creating mood boards, drawing, researching and crafting.

How has the pandemic affected your business?
It’s been a complicated time to run a business, as I’m sure many entrepreneurs understand. The upside to the pandemic is that it’s been a great time for me to experiment and focus more on my own work and self-development.

What would you like to achieve in the near future?
I’m hoping to launch as an artist and showcase my work for the first time in an exhibition setting. Fingers crossed it will happen sometime next year.

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