IDYSM: Hey Frank, thanks for your time. First up, please tell us a bit about yourself.
Frank: Hello, my name is Frank. I am currently based in Hong Kong as a Creative Director for a media/creative agency called Silly Thing. We produce work for a range of commercial clients and the company also own a few publications – Milk, and Obscura. I look after the creative output for the commercial clients, and for Obscura, I assist our in-house editorial team in initiatives like Obscuravision (our online video channel – http://www.vimeo.com/channels/obscuravision), and a few stories/content creation. Aside from that, I like fried chicken. And I also like running. Not necessarily in that order.
IDYSM: You’re known as ‘one of the most diverse, universal and ubiquitous people in the industry’, how have you built this reputation, and how do you stay on top of everything?
Frank: I’m not really sure where you heard this, hah. I don’t think I deserve that title at all, but it is quite humbling to hear. I don’t think it’s been any kind of plan of mine to be like this. I suppose I meet interesting people in my travels, and I guess they find me interesting too. For some reason weirdness is attracted to me: or maybe I just put myself in places and situations to see weird things happen. I’ve never been a fan of ‘professional networking’ - I always feel the best connections you have with someone is something that should develop organically. If you vibe, great. If you don’t, then that’s OK too. As Bukowski said… Don’t Try.
IDYSM: I’ve seen you described as a ‘sub culture boff’ – what does it take for something to capture your attention?
Frank: Something that’s new and has some kind of unique character about it. It’s hard to explain, there’s no set formula – there’s a reason why things become popular; there’s some kind of intrinsic attraction about it that makes people gravitate to it before it becomes a ‘trend’. The fact that it captures my attention in the start is a good step. I wouldn’t like to quantify or formulize it – that would defeat the purpose, no?
IDYSM: Right now, what are your influences and inspirations?
Frank: I always feel that one’s environment is their biggest influence and inspiration. The people, and the physical environment. Look around you sometimes. I like seeking out patterns in nature, whether man made or natural. I’m not sure why, to be honest.
IDYSM: What’s your relationship with sneakers and how has sneaker culture influenced your life?
Frank: That’s a question I feel that should’ve been asked in a different era of my life, hah. Sure, I like sneakers, but I think I was enthralled by the culture of collecting it and the community it created, as opposed to the obsession of having to have however many hundred pairs of shoes. I’ve made some great friends through the whole sneaker thing over the years, and I treasure those more than I do the shoes; most of which I gave away to charity prior to moving to Hong Kong. The idea that collecting sneakers wasn’t the norm and how it brought out this childhood emotion of desiring and craving… it’s exciting to feel that way about something. I’m also a huge nerd. I’m really not afraid to say that. And the idea of seeking, finding out more, and researching footwear knowledge is a true nerdy pursuit. I liked that about it. These days, I suppose the closest connection I have to sneaker culture is building and executing work for Nike (one of our ongoing clients), and designing co-branded footwear or collaborative projects with footwear companies and the magazines that the company I work for own – like Milk magazine.
Frank: Well, many things and personalities have come out of sneaker culture, even if they’re like me and not involved in it as much as they used to be. It’s also made companies see the value of creativity and the idea of creating innovative products instead of bestsellers. To use a crude example – a global shoe company would’ve laughed 15 years ago about the idea of producing a limited MOQ run (<1000 pieces?) product to sell.. it makes no sense in terms of profitability. Footwear, just like fashion, is about volume. You make money by selling a ton of stock. But today, it’s made it a crucial part of strategy for these companies, even if it is only a marketing ploy. At least they’ve placed value towards it and try and seek out good people to work with.IDYSM: Do you feel that fashion has been effected in a good or bad way by the internet?
Frank: I feel it’s made it far more accessible to people around the world. There was a period where the industry needed to find a way to co-exist with it, but I feel it’s at a point now where they’ve found this balance. Traditionally, content about fashion has always been very carefully crafted and timed at key points in the year, but with the explosive growth of social media, and more importantly – spreading an opinion across the internet to millions of people instantly at a click of a button, it’s definitely put the old guard on its toes. Information is far more accessible and it’s placed the power into the consumer’s hands more than the traditional design elite. I suppose it’s a taste democracy now, hah.
IDYSM: Has the internet acted to make trending more global?
Frank: Of course. Individuality always leads to homogeneity. The internet is one giant sounding board that amplifies natural human behaviour, so it’s made this process quicker.
Frank: Every place, every city has its own unique flavour. The moment this changes and everybody looks the exactly the same is the day I give up.
IDYSM: What does 2013 hold for you and all your ventures?
Frank: Well, I don’t have ventures anymore so to speak. I just do work. I want to push and challenge the way people perceive the creative process in Hong Kong and China… but that’s a whole ‘nother essay right there.IDYSM: I always like to end my interviews with this question…what’s on your feet right now?
Frank: Right now… Undercover x Vans JP slip-ons. I think they were from a few years ago now.