Through our editorial platform, we hope to share our discoveries with the creative community to inspire, inform, and provide a platform for the next world-changing idea to take root.


Dark Side of Creative: Shivang from Young Soy Gallery on the Challenges of Navigating the Art World

by Owen Turner

Like many artists, the ultimate dream is to open a gallery or have their work featured in one. After all, who doesn’t want to sit in a room all day marveling at unique expressions of intelligence that enrich the cultural quality of their lives? But “making it” in the art world–one that lives and breathes reputation–is not an easy challenge. Especially when you’re trying to disrupt the status quo by creating a more approachable gallery, says Shivang, co-founder of Young Soy Gallery:

“We find the art world to be taken very seriously, sometimes too much so. By calling ourselves “Young Soy Gallery”, it allows us to hold up a mirror to the rest of the artworld so they can engage in satirical reflection which is a healthy process for anyone to participate in.”

A Hong Konger at heart, Shiv gives credit to the city’s dynamism as the source of his ambition and sense of humour. But, building a successful creative business here in Hong Kong is not something you can do with just ambition and humour alone. For Shiv and Young Soy, they’re embracing the challenges that come with entrepreneurship whilst simultaneously infusing it with this raw, authentic and personable approach to building an art gallery that makes it so unique.

Young Soy has been making waves as an art gallery dedicated to the everlasting quest of cultivating and celebrating radical cultural influences. With an ambitious vision of making the world a better, more interesting place to live, we sat down with Shiv for this month’s Dark Side of Creative series to get a behind-the-scenes look into Young Soy’s journey since it’s humble beginnings.

Tell us about yourself and your background.

I was born and raised in Hong Kong. My dad was born in Hong Kong, and my mom was born in India. I am not certain what generation that makes me, but I can assure you, I identify as a Hong Konger!

What are some of the most important influences that growing up in Hong Kong had on you?

I think Hong Kong had a lot of influences on me growing up. Hong Kong is an electric city. When you walk on the sidewalks, you feel that current running up your spine through the soles of your feet. It is an incredible feeling. This electric current of Hong Kong has fueled me with ambition, a sense of humor, and common sense.

As Tatler mentions, Young Soy’s English name loosely translates to “Ugly” in Cantonese. Why is the story behind this naming? Is it emblematic of the gallery’s values or aesthetics?

Our name has nothing to do with aesthetics, however it is a name that reflects our philosophy:

“as a group of individuals, we choose to live our lives under the notion that if you cannot laugh at yourself, you should not be able to laugh at anyone or anything else.”

This does not have anything to do with the gallery or the production house per se, but instead the conduct we have chosen to hold ourselves accountable to. I would like to believe this permeates into different aspects of our business whether it is on the overarching vision, or the day to day.

Additionally, we find the art world to be taken very seriously, sometimes too much so.

“By calling ourselves “Young Soy Gallery”, it allows us to hold up a mirror to the rest of the artworld so they can engage in satirical reflection which is a healthy process for anyone to participate in.”

It also allows us to be self aware of what we are doing, and not lose sight of what we want to bring to the art world which is an approachable gallery, where all are welcome.

Photo: Courtesy of Young Soy, Echoes Exhibition by Peter Yuill

What were the most daunting aspects about setting up Young Soy Gallery?

There are a few. One of them is the fact that the art world lives and breathes reputation.

“Therefore, as a new gallery, no matter how good you are, it is a tedious process to really cement your name/brand in the art world.”

Another one is the fact that we represent primarily emerging artists.

“People often talk about how the art market is bulletproof, but the truth is, only the “blue chip” segment of the market is bulletproof."

So when there is an economic downturn, people are more reluctant to buy art, especially from emerging artists as this is purely a “want”-based market, not a “need”-based market.”

Therefore, it is what many would consider a high-risk purchase, or investment. I do not think people should necessarily buy art as an investment, however it has been commoditized to the point where the investment aspect of art buying will cross the mind of any buyer.

Lastly, from a business (and survival) standpoint, the margins are slim. Therefore, we have to be very careful about how we spend money, and oftentimes, we have to limit our budgeting in such a way that may compromise our programming. So oftentimes it feels like we are balancing on the edge of a razor blade.

While most galleries exhibit shows in their own spaces, Young Soy is unafraid to travel outside the box. What are the obstacles, benefits, or downsides of this mode of “physical distribution”?

The downside of this is that it is a logistical nightmare.

“Art is not easy to move, and when we do traveling shows, we have to spend a lot of time, energy, and resources transporting the art, and other materials in a careful, yet efficient, and cost effective manner.”

As much as we enjoyed doing this, we are currently in the process of setting up a physical location... Stay tuned for more on that in the future!

Photo: Courtesy of Young Soy, Affordable Art Fair Hong Kong

One of a gallerist’s many roles is to foster strong relationships with artists. How do you select artists and what are the challenges of showcasing their work?

A linchpin in the success of this gallery is contingent on a lack of pigeonholing ourselves when it comes to who we represent. Not only demographically, but also stylistically. If we had to describe common traits amongst our artists, they would be the following: Evolution in their work over time, originality, intention, and most importantly, a tenacious spirit.

"We see these artists as philosophers, educators, rebels, visionaries, and perhaps even degenerates...”

They just so happen to manifest their convictions in artistic mediums in such compelling ways that it demands we share it with the rest of the world. Our intention is to help these artists not only leave their mark on art history but history itself. Don’t get us wrong, we would be naive to think that they all will. Some will, some will not. It is up to us however to make sure that each artist we represent has the chance.

Where do you see Young Soy in five to ten years?

I hope to see Young Soy thriving as a gallery in multiple cities around the world, contributing to the cultural growth of the cities in which the gallery may be present in! I also hope to see some of the artists we are currently working with in museums, and major international shows all around the globe.

If you were to give one piece of advice to young creatives, what would it be?

“Regardless of what career you decide to pursue in the creative industries, MAKE SURE it is something you really want to do and something you are willing to dedicate your life to.”

There is little to no money in the creative industries, unless you are at the very top of that industry. To reach the top of any of these industries, it is very difficult because every creative industry is very saturated and will only continue to become even more saturated. So again, make sure it is something you really want, and something that you can stomach the ride for, because it is a very bumpy ride and nothing is guaranteed. Meaning you may put in a lot of hard work, and still not be recognised for it. Luck plays an important role as well.

Stay in the loop with Shiv and Young Soy by following their Instagram or visiting their website.

Our Dark Side of Creative interview series encourages creatives and entrepreneurs to reflect on their journey, uncovering key challenges and insights to inspire the creative leaders of tomorrow.

To stay up to date with this series and more, subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on Instagram.

Our Monday digest of trending topics, case studies and exclusive interviews. Don't worry, we don’t spam.


Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

free coffee consultation