In the world of art and innovation, SK Lam, the mastermind behind creative brand AllRightsReserved, stands out as a visionary leader. With a unique perspective on the intersection of art and everyday life, Lam has collaborated with a roster of the biggest names in contemporary art to realize some of the most talked-about spectacles in cities across the world.
From Florentijn Hofman’s giant inflatable rubber duck floating in the middle of Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour, to KAWS’s 37-meter-long Companion sculpture, leisurely traveling across the globe (and briefly to the stratosphere) — if you’re an artist with a big dream, Lam is the go-to guy to bring your wildest fantasies to life.
In recent years, Lam ventured into the exciting world of Web3 with the launch of FWENCLUB, a creative platform for digital and physical collectibles.
In January 2022, FWENCLUB tapped the creative mind of popular Japanese artist Yusuke Hanai to introduce the platform’s first NFT collection, "People In The Place They Love," based on the artist’s trademark anarchic figurative characters. The project was a huge success among collectors — more than 100,000 people rushed to get their hands on the 1000 uniquely attributed avatars, and made FWENCLUB the largest Discord art community in Asia with more than 250,000 members.
A year after the launch, the second phase of the Hanai’s digital adventure is ready to be unveiled in the form of an interactive, free-for-all app that fuses art experience with social gaming. Launching on February 23, FWEN METAVERSE is a virtual world rendered in rich 3D graphics that reimagines the artist’s life in his twenties, when he used to work in a now-closed beachside bar — an experience that still inspires much of his art to this day.
Set against a picturesque tropical paradise, FWEN METAVERSE offers a unique social gaming experience. Users can explore two main areas — the beach and the bar — where they can interact with other users, complete tasks, and collect in-game tokens called "beer cans." These beer cans can be used to buy virtual drinks, unlock features, or even redeem digital and physical utilities — including a chance to preview the artist’s upcoming collaboration with Japanese brand, NEIGHBORHOOD, as well as to win a one-of-a-kind bottle sculpture that is signed and numbered through an in-app competition.
Join us as we delve into the mind of this creative mastermind of FWENCLUB and discover the inspiration behind his boundary-breaking work, both in the traditional creative industries and the cutting-edge world of Web3.
“I thought it was the perfect name to signify not an ending but a brand new beginning. “AllRightsReserved” is also a reflection of how I see and respect creativity.”
— SK Lam
Artazine: You’ve dabbled in many creative fields throughout your career, from design to advertising and now curating. What does creativity mean to you?
SK Lam: Creativity is about sharing happiness, and being able to share that with the public through art is always interesting. As I always say, happiness is an asset, and art reflects our life. It’s interesting to ignite conversations and connect all walks of life.
It’s not always easy. It’s a process of trial and error and experimenting. Everything from daily life gives me inspiration, from the people I work with, to my environment and social media. I try to look for anything interesting, stay passionate and pay close attention to details.
Can you tell us more about how you started your creative brand? And why did you name it “AllRightsReserved”?
I studied in Australia before working for the design magazine, IdN, from 1997 to 2003. I’d say I’m quite a positive person. I enjoy working on anything creative, and I always look for quality. I just think life tends to unfold in stages; after my stint at IdN, I thought it was time to move on to another stage, so I started AllRightReserved in November 2003 for a new chapter of my life.
Over the years, we have designed and organized numerous bespoke branding and marketing solutions for leading international labels. Often monumental in scale, they not only garner unparalleled levels of interest but also serve the public citizenry at large.
Frankly, I had no idea what the name would be at the beginning. While flipping through the pages of the last issue of IdN I worked on, I saw the words “AllRightsReserved” printed on the last page. I thought it was the perfect name to signify not an ending but a brand new beginning. “AllRightsReserved” is also a reflection of how I see and respect creativity.
Back in 2021, you reacted very quickly to the rise of NFTs with the launch of FWENCLUB, an online creative community dedicated to NFTs. What drew you into the Web3 space? What are the potential and opportunities you see in it?
I think the pandemic was a huge catalyst. People were grounded and they couldn’t dress up to go anywhere. Their spending shifted to somewhere else, like art and luxury watches. NFT is one of them. During that time, the Web3 ideology blew up, suddenly everybody owned an NFT and every brand was building its virtual realm.
In 2021, our digital and physical collectibles platform, FWENCLUB, was launched. Building on our understanding of the impact of art, and how it brings people together, FWENCLUB collaborates with different artists and brands to create art that can traverse both digital and physical worlds, and shape a new digital culture.
The idea of the metaverse will keep evolving. While Web3 is kind of like a catchphrase currently, I believe it’s gonna become solid. It's a process after all.
Can you tell us a bit more about how the collaboration with Yusuke Hanai came to be?
Gallery Target in Tokyo introduced Hanai to me. He is a great artist and his work is well known in Japan and worldwide. His drawings focus on the lives of ordinary people, and tap into our shared experiences and emotions in life. I could see that people who come across his art, myself included, have a strong connection and resonance with his works.
I was attracted to his works and believed we could do something cool together. So we started collaborating on a series of limited-edition wood sculptures that featured his signature glum-looking cartoon characters, "DOWN BUT NOT OUT", which was very well received. After that, we organized several exhibitions in cities around the world showcasing his works.
We received an overwhelming response to his first NFT project “People in the place they love”, which was also the inaugural project of FWENCLUB launched in February 2022.
“The idea of the metaverse will keep evolving. While Web3 is kind of like a catchphrase currently, I believe it’s gonna become solid. It's a process after all.”
— SK Lam
The second phase of Hanai’s NFT project, “Friends In The Place They Love,” is touted as a metaverse experience that fuses art experience and social gaming. Can you share with us the challenges of building experiences in the metaverse, and how that differs from curating projects IRL?
It’s challenging, but we are always up for a challenge. The metaverse is an emerging and constantly evolving space, and there is still unlimited room for long-term development and value. Perhaps it still needs some observation and participation of more creators to become mature.
While Web3 and IRL projects seem to conflict with each other, Web3 has a major impact on physical projects. In the past, digital artworks were exhibited in galleries and museums, or enjoyed by people online for free, but ownership was not easy. After the birth of the blockchain, digital art has become a unique and verifiable creative medium, ensuring digital scarcity and ownership of artworks. This is how technology endows artworks with unique value. It also augments the marketing potential of digital assets into the real world, which is a very interesting experience. For the art world, this is something that has never been seen before.
We’ve been building our FWEN METAVERSE for over a year. The second phase of Hanai’s NFT project, “Friends In The Place They Love,” is launching soon to the FWENCLUB community, and I can’t wait to share it with our 250,000-plus FWENS (members).
Can you share a bit more on what you have planned for the FWEN METAVERSE? What projects or collaborations are in the pipeline?
The recently announced “THE ROAD AND THE SKY BAR & GRILL'' is just the debut release of FWEN METAVERSE. We are preparing the second release with Joan Cornellà, with whom we worked on “MOAR by Joan Cornellà” in early 2022. In FWEN METAVERSE, we are bringing the MOAR building, a rather unusual mansion to collectors where one will find games and virtual exhibitions, as well as 3D avatars. It is exciting to introduce more innovative, pioneering, and creative projects in the future.
What is your advice for young artists or creatives who are looking to make their name in the industry?
It will always be a process of trial and error. While art is a universal language, we find that people are increasingly looking for uniqueness in the art that they consider collecting.
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