For use only in Net Native's International Stories campaign 2018.

Bo's degree helped him publish an illustration book that sold out in Hong Kong

3 min read

There’s nothing more frustrating than knowing what you want to be and having your environment stand in the way. That was the problem that I faced while trying to become an artist in Hong Kong, where both the art scene and the education system doesn’t give you much freedom to explore your own ideas.

There's a path and deviating from it isn’t really an option.

I knew from a young age that to follow my dream of becoming an artist I would need to move somewhere like the UK, where creativity and individuality are celebrated. So after finishing a pretty rigid art and design A-Level in Hong Kong I researched English universities and was instantly sold on University of Portsmouth’s illustration department.

I researched English universities and was instantly sold on the University of Portsmouth’s illustration department.

Bo Sun Lam, BA (Hons) MA Illustration

The BA course had so much to offer. What really stood out was how they mixed creativity with the business of art. Alongside honing my talents as an illustrator the University also taught students about how to be a professional; how to promote yourself, how to approach agencies, how to pitch and so on. Because it’s all well and good having incredible work, but if you can’t find a client to pay for it then where’s your career going?

While coming to the UK to be an artist had long been my dream, making the trip was still a big choice. When I first arrived my English wasn’t great and I couldn’t understand strong regional accents. But people were kind to me and the University even had international officers to help with little things like that, and after a few months I felt like a local.

Bo Sun Lam, BA (Hons) MA Illustration

I had such a good experience on the BA course that I decided to stay and study for a Masters. I loved living in Portsmouth and the opportunity to spend a year learning to become even more of a professional was too good to pass up. It was a good decision because during that year I was able to publish my own illustration book as part of the course, which amazingly sold out in Hong Kong and helped make my name.

Since graduating I’ve moved back East, as I want to share my experience of UK thinking with the next generation of artists. Now I split my time between working as a freelance artist and teaching at an international arts centre, where I’ve brought a little bit of Portsmouth with me.