SBTG is all for sharing the love… Recently his Royalefam label debuted its first ever Curated Artist, featuring the talents of Pras, an Indonesian born street artist who has been learning the custom sneaker trade at Mark Ong’s SBTG Art Academy. Pras’ first solo line of custom Dunks had all the gritty military patterning and precision craftsmanship that you would expect, but they also introduced us to Pras' Kecebo cartoon alter ego, a character that's indicative of the more individual style Pras will be bringing to the party. We caught up with Pras to get the good word...
Hi there! Singapore's been great, nice people, nice food, except the weather. It's not a big deal anyway because here in Singapore we are not exposed to the sun that much... we're in air-conditioned rooms most of the time, which I think is good.
Congratulations on being Royalefam’s first ever Curated Artist! How did you come to meet Mark Ong and get in on his game?
Well, I have always been a huge fan of SBTG and his crafts, and I always visited their website quite often... you know, to check out his latest shit. Back then I was just out of the army after my National Service, I was looking for jobs and to my surprise, they (Royalefam) were actually looking for a production intern. Instantly my guts just told me to go for it. I was WOW-ed when they actually accepted me to be one of the team!
How was the army? Was that hard fitting in for someone as creative as yourself?
I was in Singapore for only two months before entering National Service. Honestly, National Service was really tough for me especially during the first year (we have to serve for two years). It was hard getting used to the regimented lifestyle and the training was tough as well. It took me a while to get used to. Overall I take national service as an experience that allowed me to understand more about military design aesthetics. I drew inspiration for designing Agent Orange and Rolling Thunder by combining elements from what I have experienced in the Army. So I would definitely say that national service has helped me in terms of creativity.
Your shoes are smoking hot! How’s the feedback been?
WOW! I'm liking this part. It's all been so huge and overwhelming for me. I never really expected it to be this massive. At first I was so stoked by how I was getting the attention from the media. The online exposure, Facebook, forums, it all does play a big part in publicizing my work. Some negative comments were inevitable, but I see it all as constructive feedback rather than looking at it from the bad side.
Were you extra nervous working on your debut collection?
After all the training that I went through, I guess my mindset was really prepared for it. Nervous... maybe a bit. It was quite a challenge for me to go through all the obstacles. As this is the first time I've done such a huge collaborations I really wanted to strive. It felt like I had the world on my shoulders. I am out of words to describe how hard I worked to do my best.
You obviously have a certain style and professional standard to maintain, but are there boundaries you’re keen to push?
I want to introduce my new style to Royalefam. I like bright and strong colors, and also i like to draw cartoon characters into my shoes so they have identity.
When someone buys a Pras original sneaker what do you hope the shoes mean to them?
I want the customer to have the same feeling as i do. I want them to feel that they fully own a design that was made with all my passion. I want them to feel proud with the design that I made.
You cam from Indonesia, is that where you caught the sneaker bug? I remember when Sneaker Pimps toured there a few years ago - the place went mental!
Back in Indonesia I wasn't really into sneakers... I'm more of a toys person. I was collecting Gundam action figures, but I was aware that there was a huge sneaker event on in Indonesia. Unfortunately I didn't get a chance to check it out.
Kaws is a big influence on your career. What do you think makes him such a crucial artist to the whole street scene?
Through all of his projects, KAWS has successfully blurred the line between fine art and mass-produced products. I like how KAWS made 'propaganda' for himself by swapping bus station posters with his own posters. That also inspired me to move on. Kaws was a nobody back then when he was doing all that vandalism, but through hard work he is a somebody right now.
Have you already started work on your next collection? What can we expect?
I already did some digital mock ups for my next collection, inspired by all of my best friends that have supported me... I'm thinking of doing a shoes that represent every single one of them!
Any famous last words?
A goal is not always meant to be reached, it often serves simply as something to aim at.
Well said! Thanks Pras.