Interview: Stephen Lau

As 2008’s JUICE Cool Lister, designer and artist Stephen Lau has got big names like Nike, Guinness, Tiger Beer, Zouk and IdN magazine under his belt of achievements. Not one to subscribe to fancy ad agency protocol, his rock-inspired designs under his Minor Player Studio and Jam Division label has seen him exhibit his work in Tokyo. We got behind the mind of this talented artist and uncovered the source behind his design inspiration, which he calls “the alternative to alternative expression”.

How did you get into art?
I’ve liked drawing cartoons since I was 7 years old, but I don’t really draw anymore. I was a bad ass when I was in art school, so I don’t think I learnt anything. I wanted to be a comic or cartoon artist, but I only learnt the things that I’m doing now when I was about 18 years old. Computer digital work is killing my hand-drawing skills, so I shall start brushing up on these skills and go back to basics.

Where do you get your ideas?
The toilet and silent nights.

Nice. What tools or applications do you use?
I use my own hands and brain a lot.

Do you go through a particular process when creating projects?
Yes, but I’m very bad at organising.

Name us some of your proudest moments.
Perhaps projects with MTV and Visa, IdN magazine, Converse and Nike. I’m proud that I’m still alive and around in this creative industry.

How have your designs evolved in terms of style and message?
I don’t really have a style or message. It’s just me.

Fair enough. Tell us what Minor Player is all about.
Minor Player is all about me, my whimsical works and special projects. Minor Player Studio replaced e18 Studio, a multidisciplinary creative studio that was founded in 2005. The reason I started my own studio is because I wanted to be a bird floating in the sky.

Chirp, chirp. How about Jam Division?
Jam Division is my clothing label, which was founded in late 2006. It started with a passion for conceptualising design ideas that are simple and minimal. Beside it being a business, it’s really about my style, soul and vision. I think most designers and artists nowadays wish to have their own label to express themselves and make money. The first phase of my products will be launched when world-renowned rock photographer David Corio’s exhibition takes place at the end of April, which is a collaboration between Converse and Jam Division.

What do you think of the art and design scene in KL?
I’m actually so out of the scene lately. I think it’s been a tragedy for local independent designers and artists over the past few years. You can still see a very low salary payout for fresh, young designers out there. I think it’s really bad for the market and I hope it gets better this year. Apart from that, I wanna ask the government how we can apply for creative grants. Are they there for us? Are they spending it right for us? If yes, most of us probably don’t know how to apply and neither do I. Do the designers, artists and public feel anything for the art and design scene here? I don’t think so.

Preach brotha! What can we expect from you this year?
I think it’s time for me to make a comeback, so I’m planning new creations and my first art book for a world tour exhibition probably at the end of this year. Expect new toys to be released sometime this year and some to-be-confirmed new projects.

Busy man! We can’t wait. So if there were no barriers to a project, what would you partake in?
I would to take a holiday in Alice’s Wonderland with Anne Hathaway, Johnny Depp and Tim Burton.

Trippy.

Watch for Stephen Lau’s takeover at www.minorplayer.com, www.jamdivision.com, www.facebook.com/StephenLCO and twitter.com/StephenLCO.

Image Miranda Yeoh