Interview: Steve Lawler

Growing up in Hong Kong was really quite insane. Especially after visiting UK, I found out the UK was so behind with technology and how slow things moved there.

I was pretty lucky to live in a block with loads of kids who always played outside. You know, regular little block party for 8-year-olds. Good times.

I first got into weird shit when computers came out. Playing old video games, hanging out at gaming arcades. Then I started discovering alternative cinema, sci-fi and B-movies. I loved everything about them.

I am a classic case of someone shaped by ’80s pop culture. I ate fast food and listened to Madonna and Jellybean.

As a kid I wanted to be a magician on a cruise ship. I also wanted to design swimming pools. Now I just want to be a kid.

I always felt that the big giant billboards around every city in the world would be ideal platforms for spreading good, positive messages. I feel they are abused a lot these days, adding very little value to communities and cities.

Good art to me is when it reflects my life, forcing me to see it from a new angle. I am more a fan of figurative art, rather than abstract art. Abstract art is really hard to pin down. You either think it looks cool, or not. I like art when it tells me a story.

When I first visited Singapore in the early ’90s, I was struck by all the social messaging I saw around the city, spreading important messages about AIDS or famine.

I loved how billboards communicated very quickly an idea by using a single image. Today, this visual language is something very close to my heart, and it is what I am constantly trying to analyze and refine every day.

I’m generally quite a happy person when I’m out and about. It’s easy to focus on negative things, but it also requires the same skill to focus on the positive things. I find that when I am lazy, I am not as happy as when I am busy.

I am an upstanding, law-abiding citizen, guilty of a few fashion crimes occasionally.

I have absolutely no routine. I would say I stand more than I sit as I’m constantly outside visiting factories, suppliers and printers. Lots of time spent up on ladders too.

People who don’t say “please” and “thank you” make me sick.

I am seeing a lot of greed recently. Not cool.

There is a real problem with landlords hiking rent here so high it is forcing out small independent businesses. We are being replaced by chain stores and monocultural mediocrity.

There is not much philanthropy around. It would be great if more public buildings offered gallery space and subsidized rents for indie designers and businesses. This problem has plagued Hong Kong for years, but is now being addressed—it is fashionable to be a supporter of the arts, and patrons are recognized for their contribution to society.

Find what you love doing, and who you love doing it with. Try and be involved in life rather than watching it from the sidelines. Learn other languages, enjoy all cultures. Learn some history. It can be quite interesting.

Don’t eat yellow snow.