Mainland-based illustrator Siu Hak, who last weekend opened a large-scale sculptural exhibition of his work, said he never imagined that one day his cartoon characters would be bigger than himself. 'I think the biggest challenge was for my contractor to transform my drawings into 3-D sculptures,' he said with a laugh, speaking at the exhibition in Telford Plaza, Kowloon Bay. Since his first book of illustrations was published in 2006, the prolific artist has produced almost 40 books. Although he moved with his wife to Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, three years ago, Hong Kong's cultural heritage continues to be the main focus of his drawings. 'I can never draw anything about New York. I mean, I grew up here and it's the city I know the best,' he said. The artist reckons local illustrations and cartoons have grown more popular in the past few years. 'People are not only reading Japanese manga. They want to read local stories. Also, publishers and distributers have been more supportive.' Despite the proliferation of technology available on the market, the illustrator insists on drawing by hand. 'I enjoy it more that way. It's hard to say which way is best. I think it's a personal habit. It's like how some people prefer to flick through the pages of a book instead of reading e-books.'