I Heart Art Insider – Szabotage

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I love the fact it’s out there for anyone to see and can create discussions and connections.

Hong Kong is full of vibrant mural works created by talented street artists. The renowned street artist, Szabotage, is one of the active contemporary urban artists in Hong Kong that have turned boring neighbourhoods into Instagrammable photo spots. His works are filled with neon colours, Chinese calligraphy and iconography, and pop culture, making the dull building walls look colourful and lively.

In this interview, we invited Szabotage to share his creative process, NFT art journey and more.



  • Can you tell me about yourself?

I am a street artist based in Hong Kong, where I have lived for the past 8 years. I paint murals and create both studio and digital artworks. I’m a trained architect that has always had a passion for art. I was born in Brighton UK. My passions also include open water swimming and cars which I share with my 2 children, who are 2.5 and 5 years old.

  • When did you start picking up a spray can to create artwork? What inspired you to create graffiti artwork on the street?

I was a latecomer to the spray can scene, although I had been amongst it for several years. I started spraying over 15 years ago, creating canvas art. I was a few years into my spray can experience when I wanted to go bigger and test out the scale. I soon realised it was a lot easier painting on the streets as the large scale suited the spray can. I love the fact it’s out there for anyone to see and can create discussions and connections. It was spraying murals on the streets in Hong Kong that gave me my signature Koi fish. That became my tag. It came about when I found the perfect wall to paint on. The owner of the wall asked me to paint a fish, but we couldn’t agree on a design. That’s when he told me that I couldn’t paint fish! I took this and decided to keep painting fish, so to me, the Koi tag is a symbol of perseverance.

  • Can you share the creative process with us? How long does it take to make an art piece?

My journey started with the spray can and spray on canvas, so in order to help control the can and achieve finer detail I used stencils. My stencils started with just an outline then grew into many other subjects. From there, I created collages of stencils, one on top of each other, and this becomes a background to what I want to paint, be that portrait or cityscape. The stencils relate to the subject or inform the result to tell a story. How long it takes me to make an artwork depends on how complex and how many stencils I need to create, plus the size of the work.

  • You were the first urban artist in Hong Kong to offer NFT art back in November 2020 on OpenSea. What made you pursue NFT art? What do you predict for the future of NFT art? Where would you like to see it go?


I was introduced to NFTs by a collector/friend of my artwork. He mentioned it to me back in the summer 2020. It sounded interesting and like something I felt I needed to be a part of, as digital art making was always my process in my early architectural days. I think that it is part of the future of art and art collection and I feel I want to be a part of the process. I can’t let go of my desire to paint on the streets either, so I am exploring my journey in combining the physical canvas, street art and digital art. It is a new chance for artists to hustle for the limelight. It utilises technology which allows me to be able to share my artwork with so many more people in exciting ways.

  • How do photography and other art forms work together and influence each other?

I think that photography is a fantastic art form in its own right. That said, photography has been a great help in informing the pop culture references that I use in my artworks. There are also a lot of similar principles that photographers and artists use in art making. Photography has also been an important aspect of street art. By documenting street art, it helps keep these artworks alive even after they’re painted over or gone. I then take this one step further and mint them. Having them on the blockchain can keep my street murals alive and also help me create a timeline.

About Szabotage

Gustav Szabo is a prolific, contemporary urban artist and designer known as Szabotage. He grew up in Hove (near Brighton in the UK) where he studied architecture before moving to London where he worked as an architect and designer. After moving to Hong Kong he quickly gained notoriety with sold-out exhibitions, solo shows, collaborative projects, private and commercial commissions with iconic brands such as Prada and Louis Vuitton.

Characterised by bright colours and popular cultural references, Szabotage’s visual language is high impact. His signature style uses layers of stencils to depict life and create personality in each unique piece.

Szabotage works with a variety of formats. His collections range from walls, canvases, prints, and cars to sculptures, stencils and NFTs. He constantly challenges limitations and enjoys creating his art and sculptures using deconstructed aerosol cans, metals and wood. In the digital space, NFTs allow him to add extra dimensions using animation and sound.

Szabotage’s Koi tag is easily recognisable. The Koi represents strength, adversity and good fortune. Watch Szabotage’s Ted Talk below to hear about he overcame his personal adversity with the power of art.


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