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New Talent

New Talent: Elaine Li and Kenie Kwok

These Ogilvy HK art directors recently won an all-expenses paid trip to Cannes Lions thanks to their super viral work on KFC and Nike

New Talent: Elaine Li and Kenie Kwok

Kenie Kwok (left) and Elaine Li (right) recently won the Young Kam Fan prizes at Hong Kong’s Kam Fan Awards thanks to their super viral work for KFC and Nike. Their prize is an all-expenses paid trip to this year’s Cannes Lions, an experience for which they can’t wait. Outside of work, the art directors are never far from some kind of creative outlet. Elaine is a keen photographer and her photographs have earned her over 160,000 followers on Instagram. Kenie, meanwhile, has a background in fine art (something that shines through in the beauty of her work for clients), and can often be found doodling, exploring different cafés or partaking in Muay Thai or yoga. 

LBB’s Addison Capper caught up with the pair to find out more about their work and the upcoming trip to the French Riviera.


Elaine Li

LBB>You recently won an all-expenses paid trip to Cannes Lions thanks to your Young Kam Fan award at the Kam Fan Awards in November. Congratulations! What are you most looking forward to about the Lions? 

EL> Thank you. First of all, a heartfelt thank you to Kam Fan Awards and Create Hong Kong for giving us this opportunity. I look forward to hearing top creatives share their work and their point of views at the seminar, and meet other like-minded creatives at the Festival.


LBB> I love Nike Air Max 95s + ‘90s paraphernalia, so naturally I have a real soft spot for your Nike playing cards campaign. As an art director, what influences did you draw from when designing the cards and the overall campaign? 

EL> The Air Max 95 Collectables was a celebration of the Air Max 95's 20th anniversary, and so we drew inspiration from Hong Kong 20 years ago, looking into what was interesting and a big hit back then. One of them were these playing cards that were really popular amongst students and teenagers.



LBB> What are your biggest memories from working on that campaign? 

EL> Finding my big collection of dusty old playing cards at home, and studying the designs of them. Back then i was looking at which character or which special edition card I got. Fast forward 20 years, I'm looking back at these from a design and advertising stand point. 


LBB> KFC’s edible nail polish really exploded, globally, on social media - why do you think it appealed to so many people? 

EL> It's something really different than what people usually see, especially from a fast food brand. And I guess with social media, people tend to share things they find new, interesting and exciting. And KFC nail polish did just that. Essentially we got people talking about chicken without showing any chicken at all!


LBB> How was it for you, as an art director, to apply the design skills associated with a fashion brand to a fast food brand? 

EL> Since we were creating a nail polish, naturally it had to look relatively premium to fit with the nature of the new innovation. We did a lot of research into fashion photography style and language to inspire our very own look and aesthetic. Taking inspiration from expressive hand painted typography and clean bold packaging art direction, we ended up with something fashionable, designed for fast food.

LBB> You have a big following on social media, especially on Instagram thanks to your photography. Why is it important for you to keep this up on top of your day job at Ogilvy? 

EL> I draw inspiration from photography, and it's important for me to have a side hobby like this outside of work as a creative outlet. Although my day job is to be a ‘creative’, often times there are lots of boundaries like brand guidelines and client requests etc. But with photography, I get to shoot whatever I like.


LBB> Where did you grow up and what kind of kid were you? Did creativity play a big role in your childhood?

EL> I grew up in Hong Kong and was a typical kid in local school. Creativity actually didn't play a big role until I was in high school, where I decided to go to art school for Visual Communication.


LBB> You have lived in Melbourne and Chicago but eventually moved back to your hometown of Hong Kong. What drew you back?

EL> I grew up in Hong Kong, so I knew I would always come back one day. My family is here as well, so part of it was to spend more time with them whilst working here. However, I would like to try working abroad again sometime soon.


LBB> What do you like to get up to outside of work? 

EL> Photography, travelling and exploring the city.


Kenie Kwok

LBB> You recently won an all-expenses paid trip to Cannes Lions thanks to your Young Kam Fan award at the Kam Fan Awards in November. Congratulations! What are you most looking forward to about the Lions? 

KK> Thank you. The trip to Cannes will definitely be not only an eye-opener but also a great opportunity for me to learn from all of the best in the industry from around the world. I cannot wait to be inspired.


LBB> How do you apply your fine art background to the work you do with brands? How interchangeable are those skills? 

KK> My fine art background has always been handy for my career as it strengthens the basis of my design skills. It also helps me to visualise conceptual ideas more elaborately via sketches and drawings, hence I could get the ideas across without too much complication. Being able to draw will always help you visualise what's in your head and make it tangible.


LBB> It’s interesting because your work for AMEX and Studio City is very clean and slick. Do you think that’s due to your fine art skills?

KK> Thank you for the compliment. My previous experience in fine art has trained me up in looking at details. While working on commercial artworks, I would try my very best to craft every single component of it, bit by bit.



LBB> And how do you channel fine art outside of work? 

KK>  I’ve been trying to maintain drawing and painting as a hobby despite how busy my advertising job is. I always find myself doodling as long as I have a pen in hand. I believe my passion for fine arts and art history will live with me forever.


LBB> Where did you grow up and what kind of kid were you? Did creativity play a big role in your childhood?

KK> I was born and raised in Hong Kong until I was 15 when I went to study abroad in America. I was the introvert who always sat at the back of the classroom and drew on every single page of my textbooks. Art classes were my favourites since kindergarten and I have had a strong passion about it ever since a young age.



LBB> You began your career in New York before moving back to Hong Kong - what are the biggest differences you see between the industries? 

KK> I started my career in digital advertising. Digital trends and the way people react to them are definitely one step ahead in the States than in Hong Kong. It feels to me that both agencies and clients there are more daring to break through while having more acceptance towards the out-of-the-box ideas and executions. 


LBB> What drew you back to Hong Kong? 

KK> Similar to Elaine’s experience, my roots are in Hong Kong and I always planned to come back. Also, the Hong Kong market is diverse enough that it provides me with opportunities to learn from projects for both local and regional accounts.


LBB> What do you like to get up to outside of work? 

KK> Doodling, working out (Muay Thai and yoga), and café exploration.