Hailing from Orlando, renowned street style artist Boy Kong has been in high demand with his breathtakingly intricate, vibrant and unique body of work. With a style that juxtaposes elements of Ukiyo-e, graffiti and animal folklore amongst other principles and techniques, they have caught the attention of big players across the world – the latest of which being none other than clothing powerhouse, Cotton On. Through their TBar Artist Series, they provide established and emerging artists a global platform to showcase their creativity. Last week, the brand were able to fly Boy Kong over to paint a live hoarding in Bourke Street, Melbourne. While he was here, we were able to catch up with him and discuss his latest project.
TVG: The collaboration with T Bar/Cotton On is obviously a really exciting one. What do you think makes a collaboration really work for both parties involved?
Boy Kong:When both parties are driven and able to highlight the strong traits of each other. Also assist each other on weaker points.
Can you give us a little more of a breakdown on the collaboration and the process you took from initial concepts to execution?
From the start they wanted me to submit designs for the TBar x Cotton On Artist Series and said I could create anything I wanted. There weren’t any bumpers, boarders or strings. BINGO. That is the most freedom any artist, human or animal would ever want. I took off running at that point.
Can you give us an explanation about your tee designs for T bar?
The designs are like a math problem/puzzle I like to solve. I start with a subject, usually something playful or dreamy feeling theme to them. For example a lady dancing with her lover, a tiger begging to the stars or a black cat facing with its internal face. Once the subjects are set, I then proceed on solving the “math” of the design. I try to figure out what I want the viewer to know or what details I can leave out. I also play with the weight in the lines or the drawing and figure out the black and white (negative or positive) balance of the whole image. After 50 drafts, I then come to a conclusion. When the design has a voice on its own then I’m at peace. Usually that’s not the case though.
Why do you think about the Feature Artist Series as an initiative – and what does bringing you out to Australia says about Cotton On’s commitment to art?
That Cotton On doesn’t play and they are willing to team up with the average joe to step out of corporate comfort zones.
The interaction between art and fashion is something that is being explored more and more. You of course have your own label in AFLOWER. Do you think the realm of fashion is something that artists will continue to use to get their work out there? If yes, why so?
Yes, because whenever you want to show pride for your favourite sports team, city, country or feelings, fashion is something that gets that point across right from the start.
You’re obviously a very talented artist/painter/illustrator, how did you initially get into it?
Almost like most people – boredom and interest got married one day at an early age and it had a bunch of kids named painting, sculpting, drawing, loving and creating.
I understand that you’re inspired by a mixture of Ukiyo-e, Surrealism, Graffiti, and animal folklore. What is it about these areas – and the combination of these elements – that interests you and has given you such a rich source of inspiration?
Colour, lines, movement and impact. Those are the main points that itch my mind and beat me up when I think about those categories.
And if you were to point out a person that inspires you most, who would that be?
Pointing is rude, but I don’t think there is one person that I can point to. It’s a different one everyday honestly.
Aside from your main craft, what else do you like to do?
Skateboarding and people watching
Finally, what’s next for Boy Kong?
We are working towards a painting project in Germany at a cheese farm with my home gallery, Gitler&. My collaboration with TBar x Cotton On is being released in October too.