Liberal arts learning illustrates the power of inspiration
Programme pursued at Lingnan University: Bachelor of Social Sciences (Honours) 2005
Present career: Cartoonist
Being part of Lingnan University was like being part of a small community. You got to meet people from different walks of life and listen to different ideas. There was a strong community spirit where people were expected to respect and take care of each other.
“Positive thinking, open-mindedness and being true to yourself will open the doors of opportunity”, said Kylie Hung, a 2005 social science graduate who became a freelance illustrator after a brief stint in the PR industry.
Big break in publishing opens the door
“I still remember what the President of Lingnan University said at assembly when I was still a freshman,” Kylie recalled. “Don’t forget to play, and don’t forget to explore the world, because life is not just about study or achievement. This philosophy, together with the liberal arts programme, encouraged me to spread my wings and fully develop in various capacities - intellectually, socially and creatively.”
Drawing had been Kylie’s passion since her school days, when she would be busy joining the hostel’s creative art activities and producing publicity materials for the hostel. Even after taking up a job in PR and marketing after graduating, she still found time to create cartoon stories about everyday life and publish them on her own website. In 2009, she was approached by a publisher who offered to produce her work, and this proved a great success. The sheer popularity of her cartoon work prompted her to quit her full-time job and pursue a career as a freelance illustrator. Apart from committing to publish one or two cartoon books with her publisher every year, Kylie also arranged to work with her agent on projects with various clients including shopping malls, consumer goods, cosmetics and beauty products, and the public sector. “I enjoyed my job working in the PR and marketing industry, but it did not really allow my creative side to come out as I was mainly servicing clients on behalf of the PR firm,” said Kylie. “The job was interesting, but also stressful. To unwind, I would draw cartoons emphasising the positive and funny side of day-to-day events. It is nice to have a breath of fresh air in a society full of negative energy.
“I would never have thought that my hobby would turn into a profession, and I am so glad I did not give it up just because it was not the most pragmatic way to spend my spare time in today’s achievement-oriented society,” she added. Kylie draws inspiration from her own everyday life and the lives of those around her. Changes during the different stages of her life, from dating and getting married, to becoming the mother of a young daughter, are also reflected in her work, which always has the knack of connecting with readers and bringing a smile to their faces, thanks to her wonderful sense of humour. Her Facebook page, a major social media channel for sharing her work, now boasts more than 65,000 followers, encompassing students, young professionals, singles and parents.
Campus life provided fertile soil for creativity to flourish
When asked about her formative years as an undergraduate student at Lingnan University, Kylie reminisced about the days where she was living in a university dormitory. Given the small campus and the majority of students living in hostels, Lingnan University was a thriving, intimate community that provided the perfect environment for nimble young minds to grow.
After classes, the whole campus would be transformed into a bazaar where various clubs would be promoting their activities, encouraging fellow schoolmates to explore music, dance, sports, debate, chess, photography, and many more activities. Back in the dormitory, students would be cooking together, planning grocery trips, exchanging what they had seen and learned on campus. Sometimes, a casual conversation could lengthen into an hours-long discussion on deeper topics such as current affairs, careers, and the pursuit of meaning and happiness in life.
“Being part of Lingnan University was like being part of a village,” Kylie said. “You got to meet people from different walks of life and listen to different ideas. There was a strong community spirit where people were expected to respect and take care of each other. It made you a more sensitive, caring person who was aware of not only yourself but also about what was happening around you.”
Kylie urged fellow students at the university to explore as much as possible, not only in their academic studies, but also through hobbies, extracurricular activities, and overseas programmes. Owing to her family’s financial constraints, she was unable to participate in overseas study tours or exchange programmes, but still found the time to be part of the Students’ Hostel Association, in addition to her studies and part-time jobs. “It is the best time in your life, as you are relatively unburdened by your family, and you don’t have the obligation of work,” Kylie said. “You are young and carefree, and you have a wonderful university that encourages you to actualise yourself. Make the most of it, and don’t have any regrets.”