Shentonista Features: New Extremes — Jack Of All Trades



It’s said that a jack of all trades is a master of none, but did you know that there’s more to the saying? The complete version goes: A jack of all trades is a master of none, but better than a master of one. Meet Vegas—national serviceman by day, zealous hobbyist by night, and one who lives up to the old adage by simply being a child at heart.

We were first introduced to Vegas awhile back, when he’d just enlisted into the army. Not unlike many young men in what is widely regarded as a two-year hiatus from normal life, he’s been using his time outside of military duties as a chance for self-discovery. What makes Vegas different, though, is his strong desire to explore and learn. In fact, now more than a year later, we’re still finding out new things about him all the time, because he always seems to be dabbling in something fresh and exciting.

Well, if there’s one thing you should know about Vegas, it’s that he’s quite the collector—of things, artistries, knowledge; anything really. He dropped by our studio on a lazy Saturday morning to show us some of his best finds and stories, as we chatted over breakfast.

Right off the bat, we wanted to know just how many hobbies Vegas has at present. Here’s what we’ve gathered so far: Vegas collects art, clothing, toys, vinyls, plants; he does filmmaking, photography, and most recently DJ-ing.

So how did this yearning for new experiences begin? Going way back, Vegas tells us that, as a child, his curious nature led him to dip his toes into anything and everything in school and at home. Hopping from toy to toy, hobby to hobby, and even from one co-curricular activity to another at school pretty much sums up his entire childhood.

This inquisitive spirit early on laid the foundation for a lifetime of diverse interests, but there are some changes of heart that Vegas cannot explain. If you’ve noticed, for instance, many of his current interests lean towards the art and design scene, which came as a bit of a surprise to many who knew him as a kid. “I grew up gravitating towards the sciences,” he recalls. “I remember getting an encyclopaedia when I was seven and was immediately hooked! I don’t know what happened since, but I somehow got into the arts and became a creative,” he says, amused.


As for what spurred Vegas to start collecting as a hobby, he has three very special groups of people to thank. The first two: “Power Rangers and Winx Club,” he announces, going on about the stickers and magazines he used to collect. “They were my favourite childhood television programmes and very first obsessions!”

His loved ones make up the third group that, as you’ll see, greatly influence his pursuits. We delved into some of his collections:

One that Vegas holds dear is his plants, in part due to how and why he fell in love with them. A few years back, during the Covid-19 lockdown, Vegas picked up botany as a way to connect with his green-thumbed father, who showed him the ropes of gardening. He laughs as he talks about their shared pastime, “My dad has been into plants for as long as I remember. I always joke that he spends more time with his plants than the family, so I thought I’d give it a go too!”

Over time, Vegas has developed a preference of his own. He doesn’t just want any plants, but rare and exotic ones with bright colours, funny shapes, and organic forms. “Some of my favourites at home are my Cranberry Star Caladium that I’ve been caring for since its temperamental days as a tiny little plant, my Pink Prince Syngonium, which was my first variegated plant that I got from a plant swap, and my Mini Monstera, just because it’s a unique variation that we don’t often see in Singapore,” he shares.

At times, Vegas collects for more practical reasons, as investments or to earn some extra bucks. For that reason, he buys, sells, and trades vintage toy cars with his brother, in online marketplaces and at pop-up markets. “To be honest, I just wanted to start something cool with my brother, so it’s purely business for me,” he admits.

That said, out of all the makes and models of toy cars he deals, one brand has slowly snuck its way into his personal collection. “I do collect retro American cars that are restored by a Japanese brand called Moon Eyes. For me, I’m more drawn to the aesthetics of the packaging, not so much the cars themselves,” he adds. While that may be true, it doesn’t make his collection any less impressive.

Regardless of the nature of his hobbies, Vegas believes that community is what makes them worthwhile. When people are part of a community that shares the same interests and engages in the same activities, he rightly points out, there’s a sense of belonging that helps individuals experience any hobby on a deeper level.

Not just that, making connections can help forge new friendships and offer exposure to different perspectives too. “At the end of the day, hobbies are avenues for us to talk about things and share their experiences,” Vegas says. “I love asking questions and unearthing the stories behind people’s interests, so finding a community is always the first step I take when embarking on something new.”

That’s why he surrounds himself with like-minded people, including his partner, Adri, who has helped shape many of his recent pastimes. As a creative herself, Adri’s penchant for visual arts and music has inevitably rubbed off on Vegas, and he’s found himself with a growing collection of art prints and zines, and is even picking up DJ-ing this year.

Vegas reveals that he tends to go all out when he find something he enjoys. But of course, in plunging head first into many interests, there are bound to be ones that either never took flight, or have since come to a halt.

Here’s Vegas’ TL;DR summary of such hobbies:

• Filmmaking — It’s more than a hobby for me since I studied and worked in the industry. I’ll definitely revisit it in the future, but for now, I want to take a step back to try my hand at different jobs while I’m still young.
• Film photography — I was super hardcore into it for awhile, but film has become so inaccessible and expensive that it’s been ruined for me.
• Gundam (Japanese sci-fi robot) models — I loved the building process but not the finished product. Plus, it’s a money pit.
• Subbuteo (tabletop football game) — With many incredibly niche hobbies, the lack of a community and resources in the country meant that I couldn’t even procure a set, let alone find someone to play with.

As hobbies come and go, one that has remained steadfast in Vegas’ life is fashion, an interest he inherited from his parents, who’re both fashion designers, and a passion he’s been nurturing since his early teens. In recent times, his love for fashion manifests in the form of collecting vintage, runway, and archival clothing, which is sometimes akin to an intensive sport, we learn.

“My god, I think I spend at least 12 hours a week on my phone browsing fashion apps and websites alone!” he exclaims. Recounting the time he spent a whole year trying to get his hands on a pair of boots, he tells us, “I’d scour the internet everyday, searching on Facebook Groups and Reddit threads, and there were even people from Finland and Japan helping me keep a lookout for it.”

Like many collectors of any trade, what drives Vegas is the thrill of the hunt, discovering the history behind each piece and its mark on the fashion scene, forging new connections, and the sentimentality of it all.

Just this year, Vegas moved into and launched a clothing space called Upstairs Garments, alongside Adri and two other friends. Operating out of a cozy attic among the waves of shophouses in Tanjong Pagar, they currently sell and trade curated garments that Vegas has amassed over the years, and the space serves as a meeting point for fashion buffs to gather and connect over a collective interest—cool things, experiences, and people—everything Vegas believes a hobby should be.

“I see Upstairs Garments as a gateway to more creative explorations. A small step towards a bigger dream, if you will. My end goal is not merely to sell products from a brick and mortar store but to design a transformative and collaborative space for more creating,” Vegas shares. “That way, we’d have the freedom to pursue other interests too, all in one place! For example, I also want to make my own furnitures from scratch.”

To reach this dream, Vegas has plans to further his studies by the time he’s 30 (now 22). As a keen learner who thrives in the controlled environment of an educational institution, it’s something he’s really looking forward to; his eyes lit up as he says, “My dream is to pursue a fashion design degree in womenswear at Central Saint Martins in London, to formally study the laws and theories of a subject I’ve always been so passionate about. Going back to the idea of having a community, I also think that schools provide the best platform for collaborations.”

Newly into adulthood, it seems like Vegas has already lived many lifetimes of exploration and experimentation. Still, it’s no doubt that he’ll go on to do so much more in the years to come. As we gobbled down the last of our meal, we were left with only one question: what should we try next?

Upstairs Garments
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