Drawings from “The Ink Trail: Hong Kong” by Andreas von Buddenbrock


For years, Andreas von Buddenbrock has been filling sketchbook after sketchbook with ink drawings that all aim to capture the places and people he comes across; from market stalls and their vendors to high rises and dilapidated buildings to lush, winding nature trails.


The Ink Trail: Hong Kong, Andreas von Buddenbrock (Blacksmith,
The Ink Trail: Hong Kong, Andreas von Buddenbrock (Blacksmith, April 2024)

Illustrations reprinted with permission from Blacksmith Books. Introductory text by Andreas von Buddenbrock.

The process for making any of my sketchbook drawings varies slightly, but generally it starts off with a very rough pencil sketch, followed by more refined pencil work. When I feel confident enough about the image’s composition and the general shape of its subjects, I start tracing over my pencil lines with ink pens (usually with Micron pens). Then, I’ll erase all of my pencil lines and get to work on the hatching (shading using many parallel lines) and add smaller details using even finer pens. I also often use a Zebra ink pen – a kind of stiff ink brush – to cover larger, darker areas and brush up the contrasts.

The reason for picking any particular subject to draw varies as well. It can be something I planned to draw for a long time or it can simply be something I come across during my walks around the city or while hiking. To give a few examples:


“Meat Market” was a spot I discovered while walking through a wet market in Tin Hau. I went back to draw the shop twice at 3 1/2 hour intervals, standing in front of the shop while the owner tended to his clients. By the end of the second session I showed him the final work and lucky for me, he seemed overjoyed, asking his wife who sat nearby to come and take a picture of it with her phone. The whole thing was quite wholesome.


“HK Central Library” really was made mainly as an exercise in drawing people “live”. I’m quite comfortable drawing faces and bodies from reference photos (I do a lot of commissioned portrait work) but trying to capture peoples’ moves and expressions on-site can honestly be a bit of a challenge. The Central Library in Causeway Bay felt like a good place to make this piece, as visitors are (mostly) sitting still while reading their books and newspapers.


Some of my favorite things to draw are the old buildings and objects that have been subjected to time and neglect. Whether it’s the overgrown ruins of an abandoned building in Ma Wan, tied up old ship ropes on a beach in Kat O or a motorbike on the side of the road in Lohas Park (now an extension of the shrubbery surrounding it), I’m reminded of time’s constant presence and insatiable hunger.


Most of my sketchbooks were done throughout the course of a year, meaning that the first drawing for each book was added in either January or February, while the very last one was made in December. Because of this, I tend to want the last drawing to stand out a little extra, oftentimes by choosing imagery that has a wider scale while adding lots and lots of detail. An example of this would be “Sham Shui Po, 2020”, which I drew during the final week of the year at a spot situated right above my old college campus (SCAD). To complete the drawing, I went back to the same spot three or four times, with my final session being on December 31. It probably doesn’t need much explaining why 2020 hadn’t been an ideal year (it still had its moments, of course), but the feeling I had as it was coming to a close was one of hope and that things would eventually get better. I believe this notion of focusing on what’s ahead comes across in the drawing as well.

Andreas von Buddenbrock works as an artist and freelance illustrator in Hong Kong under the pseudonym “The Ink Trail”.