Art on the Line for AWA

Hong Kong Fashion Illustrator

- ILLUSTRATOR Tanya Bennett aka “Pirate” by RACHEL BOURKE
Tanya Bennett, better known as Pirate to those in the know, is a Hong Kong-based artist you might have seen at some of the city’s most luxurious fashion and lifestyle events including those at Christian Louboutin, Cartier, and Lane Crawford.

Her illustrations capture the faces and silhouettes of some of the city’s most fabulous and she will be at Art on the Line 2018 to capture our friends and guests! Hong Kong Home We were curious to hear about how she ended up calling Hong Kong “home” after arriving here over 10 years ago and what inspires her.

Although Tanya was born and raised in England, she considers Hong Kong home and has always plotted to bring herself to Asia, so much so that within a month of graduating, she was China-bound for her first job in design. Hong Kong has provided the right environment for Tanya to launch herself as an artist, although the hurdles she faced were partly her own doing; acknowledging her talent and legitima-cy as an artist took some time.

However, she says she has an incredible community of women who lift her up and act as sounding boards, providing her with the critical support and necessary mentoring to keep her pushing forward as she feels “they inherently know what we (women) are up against.” Inspiration Inspired by travelling (she admits to finally fulfilling her summer dream of spending it away from Hong Kong’s sticky climes this year) and the meditative nature of racing up and around the hills near and far. Tanya’s competitive athleticism appears to be in stark contrast to her creative artistry, but one seems to feed the other and provides for much needed inspiration.

Her recent trail running adventures have taken her to a race in Chiang Mai, Thailand with her all-women team called Hot on the Heels (or HOTH for short). Motivation When asked if this is important, Tanya says that there is something women fundamentally understand about supporting each other. They share frustrations. They empathize and often “say the right things at the right time, and are direct in the right way.”

Her Hong Kong “tribe” as she puts it has also given her a new audience and collaborative: their children! “I’m quite good with kids - maybe because I’m really just a big kid myself.” Her connection to them is easy and she says they feed her creatively through play. From an Alaskan zoo made from toilet rolls to a pirate’s booty with crystal gems, there is never a shortage of imagination “because the little ones are open to the possibilities - always asking “why?””

What she’s ever mindful of is how she speaks with them, as it’s important for her “to help raise them up to be feminists.”

WE ARE SO EXCITED for you and your friends to walk away with a personal illustration from PIRATE AT ART ON THE LINE! 



Womens Five | What Women Need to Know in 2018

Thanks to Women's Five for featuring me as 1 of 17 women that they interviewed.

Women's Five is a female only training programme that culminates in a 5k race in Hong Kong.

HK Fashion Illustrator

You’re a successful artist and runner. What do you think of when you hear the word successful? My immediate response is to rebuff the notion that I am successful. I have certainly been lucky in terms of the opportunities I have been offered for my work and at races, but I am a long way off achieving my greater goals. This is especially true in running.

If you could go back in time and visit your younger self, what advice would you give yourself? I would tell myself to be kinder to my body; to rest more and to eat better foods… and to drink less alcohol!

What do you do to bring your productivity levels to a 10. Any tips for us? I am absolutely excellent at procrastinating! I have taught myself to be a productive procrastinator though… Don’t want to tackle that deadline, head out for a 20k training run instead; don’t feel like going running, sit down and sort out the accounts; Don’t want to tackle the laundry, head to a coffee shop and sketch for a few hours. That way, I get stuff done but I feel like I’m rebelling against my responsibilities.

With all your amazing accomplishment so far what 3 things would you credit them to? I would credit my family and friends first and foremost. My dad has supported my dreams of working in fashion and being an artist since I was a kid. And, running long distances takes a lot of time away from your social calendar. Without friends who understand your commitment and passion, it wouldn’t be at all possible. Not only do my friends have a huge understanding of my training schedule, they also come and meet me on races, pick up my sweaty ass from finish lines and keep me motivated on my race group chats.

Next, I would certainly attribute stubbornness to helping me achieve some of my goals. In work, it took me over 8 years to get to the point where I could work full time freelance doing the job I love. In running, without stubbornness, distances like 50, 100, 150 kilometres are just not possible.

Lastly, I like to think that I am someone who doesn’t take life too seriously. At the end of the day, I paint pretty pictures and spend stupid amounts of time in the mountains. If you can’t have fun doing these things then you miss the moments that make them worth remembering in the first place.

Hardest thing you have currently done to date? Quitting my day job is up there, alongside running Pulag 100 (a 112k mountain ultra in the Philippines). Both were equally very traumatic but rewarding.

What do you think there should be more of and what do you think there should be less of? I think there should be more compassion for others, I worry that we are evolving to be very selfish. I definitely could be contributing way more but I try to put in where I can; either by adopting an ugly old cat no one will take, or working with wonderful children’s charities like the Sovereign Art Foundation. I think that there should be less tardiness. I cannot fathom how people do not have have ability to be on time, I don’t understand how that works!

What challenges are you currently facing and how are you trying to overcome them? In my art, I’m looking to expand my business and my practice. I’m trying to secure a bigger space and as we all know, in Hong Kong rent is prohibitively high. I’m trying to overcome this by sharing a space with other creatives, which should also help to evolve my practice. It’s a wonderful thing, to be able to share ideas and collaborate.

In running, I have signed up to a race next summer with a team that is a lot faster than me, and being able to run 100k at the speeds we are aiming for will take a lot of training and dedication. I am coached by Andy Dubois of Mile27, and if I pull my socks up and follow his advice to the letter over the next 8 months, I might just be able to keep up!

What part of the day is most important to you and why? I used to be a night owl, and now I have grown to love early mornings. Maybe it’s an age thing, or maybe it was born from the necessity of having to train at sunrise to beat the summer heat. Either way, I really enjoy being awake when so many people are still sleeping and getting a head start on my day before lunch.

What do u wish you did more of in a day and what do you wish u did less of? I wish I did more painting and creating. I find it comes in bursts and it’s very hard to be creative when you’re ‘not in the mood’. I’ve learnt through having commercial clients with deadlines, to overcome this to an extent, but I still tend to cram painting into manic bursts. I wish I watched less netflix, it’s not teaching me anything productive to binge a tv series, but it is nice to switch off occasionally.

 What is one of the best or most worthwhile investments you’ve made? I recently volunteered at a race and borrowed my friends camera to shoot the runners on the course. I took 450 photos and they were all blurry (!!), but it was exciting being out there capturing people from the very first runners, to the back of the pack-ers. So, I have invested in my very first ‘proper’ camera and am trying to learn how to use it, it’s my 2018 resolution.

What’s one of your best memories? Probably every finish I ever cross. More often than not, there are moments during a race where you are unsure that you will make it to the end. Physically, it is hard, but it’s usually your mental game that determines if you DNF (did not finish) or not. Crossing the finish line is affirmation that you overcame your negativity and self doubt, dug in and got on with it. It’s a really, really, really, good feeling.

What is your spirit animal and why? A Cat. They sleep and eat all day long, love having a cuddle but are also fiercely independent, and they are constantly curious and going on little adventures.

Who inspires you? So many different people inspire me in different parts of my life. My friends Tiffany and Lindsay inspire me by running big companies and raising small children, and yet still somehow always having time left over for their friends. My friend Dervla (interview below) inspires me by being immensely dedicated to launching her new business about health and wellness retreats. My friend Brenda inspires me by trying to change the world a little bit, through promoting recycled textile thread that also helps the communities in their supply chain. All of the women I run with in our group called HOTH (Hot On Their Heels), inspire me with their training, dedication, race efforts and their career pursuits. I have so many other amazing female friends, mentors and role models. I feel very lucky.

What messages are given to girls and women today that you disagree with? That we are not as strong as men, that we are not worthy of being paid the same, and that we should not shout and push back against these messages in case we give the impression of being ‘crazy feminists’.

What messages do you think are given to girls and women today that you agree with? That we should lift each up and support one another and that the future is getting much brighter for women and the goals that they want to pursue.

Can you dig a bit deeper on the women’s sports industry and the way it’s portrayed – is it going in the right direction? Hong Kong’s health and fitness scene continues to grow, and there are new female focused businesses, events and races are being introduced. The overall message seems (to me) to be trending towards a focus of strength and performance, over achieving an aesthetic goal. I think this is also driven by the rise of social media and women being able to control their own message. It is changing the way women are presented, and how they are consuming sports. I think the downside to this is the lack of official accreditation required to become a Instagram fitness star, and I think that women should take the time to educate themselves on the science surrounding their chosen sports.

Best health or lifestyle advice to women and girls? Find something that you love to do, and do it because of the way it makes you feel. If it is uplifting and it’s something that you will look forward to doing, then it will never feel like a chore. Surround yourself with other like minded people who like to do the same thing and you will find yourself part of a community that constantly inspires you.

What do you think women need to know in 2018? I think women in 2018 need to know about more influential women. It’s my personal goal next year to meet more women whom I can learn from; to share content about influential women in sports and the arts (and of course the many, many other areas of interest); and to try my best to be a positive role model to the young women in my life, such as my niece and my Goddaughters.



Milk Magazine - January 2016

Thank you to Milk Magazine for their feature on me, out in their January issue, what a fantastic way to kick off the new year :) 

(below is the interview in English)


1. Could you briefly introduce yourself? 

I am British born and studied a Bsc in Clothing Design and Manufacture at university in Scotland. Shortly after graduating, I moved to China to work with a clothing manufacturing company. A year later, I discovered Hong Kong and fell in love with the city. I switched careers into Fine Art, managing a contemporary gallery here. It was during this time that I started to build my illustration portfolio, eventually starting my own company and working full time as an artist. 

2. How do you describe your work?

My work is the product of many delicate layers, built from watercolour and ink washes with pen and pencil details. I am always striving to create a balance between representing beauty and strength, this is often manifested in female subjects. 

3. Why did you move to Hong Kong for work as an illustrator?

I wanted to experience a new culture and open myself to new experiences and influences in my work. I believe that travel is one of the best resources for creativity, and Hong Kong is a great platform to do that. It is also a young scene, artistically and especially for fashion illustrators, which is useful for building a new business.  

4. What do you think of the best thing of Hong Kong & UK respectively?

The best thing for me in Hong Kong is the food and also, the mountains. I spend a great deal of time in nature here and they are significant to my mental wellbeing. 

In the UK, the best thing is my friends and family there. I also enjoy the museum culture immensely.  

5. What are your inspiration sources? How do you keep yourself creative?

I refer to a lot of fashion imagery, so I peruse fashion blogs and instagram accounts often. I also go running a lot, as a way to sift through ideas in my head. 

6. Which places do you recommend for people who love fashion & arts in Hong Kong?

There are a lot of contemporary galleries blossoming in Hong Kong nowadays and I think it is wonderful to view other artist’s work. I like to visit galleries and wherever possible, speak to the artists themselves. For fashion, I love the PMQ and what they have achieved there, fostering an art and design hub for independent designers and artisans. 

7. You have worked in Mainland China & Hong Kong for quite a long time. So what do you think of the Arts development & talents there?

I have been in HK now for nearly eight years and have been extremely fortunate in my timing, I feel that I arrived as the art scene in HK was beginning to really build significant momentum. I have witnessed a substantial growth in the number of galleries here, and the arrival of Art Basel a few years ago really put us on the map as a notable international art hub, which in turn spurred the creation of many satellite events. Around that, other creative endeavors blossom and are more widely supported and available. Creativity breeds creativity and to be able to be a part of such an exciting time is really special. 

For me, the Occupy movement in 2014 truly highlighted what an enormous amount of talent this city has to offer. Here, we experienced the largest social movement that Hong Kong has ever seen, and the streets were filled with creative messages from artists expressing their opinions in a diverse array of mediums. This prompted the creation of the Umbrella Movement Visual Archives and Research Collection and the prestigious Victoria and Albert Museum in the UK sought work to display too. 

I feel that HK has a long and prosperous journey ahead and it is wonderful to be a part of that.

8. What are your current favourite things? 

Running, I am an avid trail runner and regularly run ultra marathons, I recently completed Oxfam Trailwalker for the third time. Running brings me peace, helps me feel connected to nature and gives me a break from the hectic pace of the city. 

My other favourite things are cats (I have three), and my twin Goddaughters and other small children that I am blessed to have in my life. Kids have a wonderful view of the world and I like to participate in that :)

9. Who do you think is the most stylish person in the world?

Emma Watson, for me, is incredibly stylish; not just for her aesthetic, but also because of her core values and the way that she utilises her fame for the greater good. That said, I think each person has the ability to be the most stylish person in their world. 

10. What is your plans for the future?

Next year I am planning to start running a series of illustration workshops and to also launch my online store, selling prints and other merchandise. I also plan to travel as much as I possibly can. 



D-Mop | Backstage Magazine

D-Mop Backstage Magazine is in stores today :) 


Here is the interview in English: 

Why did you move from UK to China then decided to base in Hong Kong?
I studied Clothing Design and Manufacture in the UK so that I would have a good degree to move to China with, I have always wanted to experience life in the East. It always seemed so exotic and exciting and I was desperate to come and explore this part of the world. Once I discovered Hong Kong, I knew I had found my new home here :) 


What do you love most about being an illustrator?

I think it is the ability to support myself doing something I truly love everyday. 


How did you develop your signature style as an artist?

I studied and worked in fashion, and this has been an enormous influence on my work. My style has evolved and developed continuously in the last decade and I’m sure it will continue to do so.


I know you’ve worked with lots of luxury, fashion and lifestyle brands, could you tell us your most impressive working experience? 

I had a crazy moment earlier this year when I knew I had made the right decision to go freelance full time, when a luxury fashion brand called me whilst I was on the phone to a hotel group and I was simultaneously trying to reply to another fashion brand via email about an upcoming event! 

One of my most impressive feats this year, for me, was illustrating for Christian Louboutin. I used to stand outside their store in London and gaze longingly at their beautiful shoes, so being asked to draw their new collection was a dream come true. 


How would you describe your personal dressing style?

I like to mix vintage pieces with high street. It’s a mixture of retro glamour and ultimate comfort. 


What’s your favorite fashion brand? Why?

I mostly like to collect secondhand pieces that usually have no recognisable label. I do have a particular fondness for McQueen, gothic and romantic are two of my favourite aesthetics. 


What are your top 5 favorite items from wardrobe? Why? 

My vintage purple dress, it cost me $100 and it's so elegant and a gorgeous colour


Orange stilettos from Topshop, I'm a huge fan of bright colours and the heels are fierce.


My Belstaff jacket - I've had it for forever and it gets more comfortable ever winter that I wear it. 


black hat, a classic winter staple. 


Alexander McQueen scarf - I use scarves constantly, they are ridiculously versatile.


Do you have any style icon or muse?   

Everyone to me is a potential muse and style icon, from celebrities and bloggers I follow online, to the people I meet at events or see on the streets. I'm constantly scouting for inspiration. 


What are your must-have beauty products?

A good hair conditioner for me is an absolute necessity, my hair suffers in the humidity! 

My favourite make up product is a bright lipstick and I love Bobbi Brown’s ‘Bright Poppy’ and Chanel’s ‘Pirate’ :) 


Do you have any hobbies? Can you tell us how you spend your leisure time?  

I am an avid trail runner and if I am not in the studio, you can guarantee that you’ll find me on a mountain running! I love the freedom and space of being in nature. 


Where do you hang out in Hong Kong? Any secret finds you can let us in on?

I'm usually found at a friends apartment, all my friends seem to be blessed with fancy terraces or rooftops, so I like to hangout there.


My favourite bar in Hong Kong is Nivarna in Sheung Wan, it's no frills with a wicked vibe and the best spicy minced pork I've ever tried in HK.


What do you miss most about UK? 

My friends and family, and the V&A museum in London. 


What inspires you currently?

I've just completed a charity arts workshop in Cambodia where we made masks, and the children's innocence and approach to the project gave me a lot of fresh energy.


What’s your recent plan of work and life?

I am planning to launch my online shop in 2016, I want to expand into illustrated merchandise, and I'm going to start a series of fashion illustration workshops. 


Can you share your recent music playlist with us?

My favourite artist at the moment is Jain, but my Spotify is crammed with everyone from Otis Redding to Major Laser. 



Sassy Hong Kong | That Girl

A huge thanks to Sassy Hong Kong for featuring me as their 'That Girl' this month. You can read the full interview here

A HUGE thank you to the enormously talented Michelle Proctor who took all the photos of me and made me look much more radiant than in real life, posting a few of my favs from the shoot here :) 



The Exquisite Edge Magazine