Artist, designer, creative director: though it may be hard to believe at first glance, Alvin’s been a part of the art scene since 1994. As a founding partner of PHUNK, a contemporary art and design collective, Alvin is not only our first curator of the second Shentonista Restyled collection but also holds the title of being our first menswear curator.
Much like his art, his fashion sense is also heavily influenced by his music choices, with splashes of punk rock making an appearance in his curated looks. Aside from the vintage items, Alvin’s collection also includes some unique art pieces created by him and his collective. In the interview below, we asked him about his 25-year-long career, his musical inspirations, and how his fashion is shaped and inspired by his practice.
How do you think PHUNK’s studio style has changed from then to now?
PHUNK has moved through the different eras of trends, and we’ve changed in the way we approach illustration and design. Even technology has changed style. It has grown more complex and better throughout the years.
In terms of design, that has expanded a lot, but in terms of our premise, I feel what we create as artists has always remained the same. Inspiration-wise, we are less influenced by outside elements now, and we create more with our own library of works as an influence. We tend to tap into our past more.
In terms of our music influences, the ones that we still have a heart for are old-school musicians and bands. We listen to the new artists, but they don’t influence us as much.
You’re a part of a studio collective, but you also design outside of the studio—could you tell me more about the differences?
As a collective, the work we do is based on our shared memories and interests. My artworks are based more on my personal interests in certain things which revolve more around kaleidoscopes and mandalas.
How has it been for the studio with Covid-19 restrictions, as we understand it was quite difficult for several art studio collectives to hold any exhibitions that weren’t online?
Towards the end of December last year, the National Arts Council was planning for Singapore Art Week, but international artists weren’t able to fly in. This ended up being a blessing in disguise for our local art scene as we were able to showcase younger artists and talents. Despite the setback, we still received several projects and commissions.
In your opinion, how has the pandemic situation shaped the art landscape?
Obviously, everyone had to pivot or try to create with digital media. I feel it’s been harder for those who handle events, as physical participation is important. However, when it comes to the arts, you can still take your time to go to a gallery even if the duration is short, and have a look around. I don’t think the pandemic affected the art scene as much as certain retail or fashion events.
Does your occupation influence the way you dress?
Definitely! I bought several band t-shirts before they went out of trend. I still enjoy searching for band t-shirts as vintage is always in and they can easily cost up to $300-600. My favourites are shirts from the band KISS, ’80’s t-shirts, and old sports brands t-shirts. Depending on the work I have to do that day, I’ll probably dress in either something comfortable or easy to wash afterwards.
How would you describe your fashion sense?
My fashion sense is more minimalistic, less loud colours, and predominantly black, grey, and white. Maybe a little bit of colour, like pink and yellow sometimes. Black isn’t my favourite colour, but I tend to buy clothes depending on whether they match the rest of my wardrobe. Black is easy to match and I don’t get trapped in a 30-minute decision-making process on what to wear.
What’s your favourite medium to express yourself?
I’m interested in new mediums I don’t understand, so for the last couple of years, 3D-printing became a new discovery. Some of the sculptures that we do have been created through 3D printing. The artwork titled Fragments of Hearts was designed on 3D software, then formed with resin and a mould.
How often do you replace your old apparel with new ones?
I don’t shop often, so it’s only when I see something I really like. I won’t go window shopping and pick something randomly. My taste is quite specific, so I always know what I’m looking out for. I only buy new clothes when I really need to, otherwise with my old clothes, I wear them to death basically. (laughs)
Would you happen to have any interesting anecdotes or associated memories to share with us about your three looks?
Well, starting with the Pink Floyd shirt, I received it as a gift from a friend and it really reflects my music sense. The t-shirt from Uniqlo that showcases both Kurt Cobain and Nirvana is another reflection of my taste in music. I really enjoy old school rock. I bought the Lad Musician t-shirt in Japan as the slogan is something I believe in. Its message is very relevant throughout the different times.
Shop Alvin’s full Shentonista Restyled collection here.
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