Hello and welcome to the first full-length edition of Lunch with LVT - our latest video series, hosted by our Creative Director, Lisa - where we will take a deep dive into post-COVID travel, veganism, environmental activism, the body positivity movement and more.
We are joined by Lenice, LVT's brand manager, Mojoko, a Singapore-based visual artist, and Prajna, a creative entrepreneur to talk about young creatives in Singapore, building creative infrastructure, leaving the nest, and recreational drugs.
Watch the full video here:
Lisa: So let's jump into lunch. As a first topic, you know, just to stay on this - Lenice, as a creative professional here in Singapore and a Singaporean - what are your thoughts on how it's like to fill out your creative potential here?
Lenice: Singapore is very financially focused, everyone is taught from young [that], "Oh, you have to do this standard job, a 9 to 5 will be the best for you". If you go to banking, you're successful, if you're a lawyer, you're successful. So, I think in general, we are not encouraged to do what we want to do. There's a lot potential in this country, there's a lot of talent as well.
But I think what I realised, after reading this post from - I think three years or five years back - is we don't have a language or artist that reach out to the whole of Singapore. People are watching different channels, you know, like the Chinese channel, Malay channel, the Indian Channel.
One day, if we ever have an artist that can reach out to everyone, I think that's where the art scene or the music scene or even fashion scene will bloom.
Lisa: That’s actually a good point, like who's the superstar actress here that reaches out to everyone? Let's say if you're in Malay, that star's gonna be different than if you're a Chinese Singaporean, or even an expat.
Mojoko: I think you're absolutely right. Its about finding platforms that are multi-channel. For example, like Jian Hao. Like he is someone that has real clout. He makes loads of nonsense, but if he was a purveyor of good creativity and good art, then it would seep into the mainstream.
Lisa: How long is it going to take to get there though? What's your feeling on this? I feel like we're not quite there yet. We need to have more community building, more creatives that actually collaborate and meet each other and hang out.
Prajna: What I understand is that there are two energy dynamics with creatives. And some creatives are great going deep. Like, musicians, artists. And theres some real great creatives that connect dots. Like me. So, what I do is I say, well, you might think that you wouldn't be with this crazy chef, but I know exactly one thing you guys can have together.
Lisa: The most bio-diversity exists in places where like two habitats meet. Like the mangroves, for example, in coastal areas, there's tonnes of biodiversity. And I feel like that's how it goes with people as well.
The more you have different cultures and different people [meeting], the more fertile and diverse and amazing it is.
Mojoko: You ask me, "why Singapore?" I think, whenever there's young people, there's life, theres's parties, there's things going on. And I think that felt like a good place to just do something new. I felt that if I [went to] America, places like New York, everything has been done a thousand times. It was a blank canvas in a way.
The fact that Im still here is a testament to the fact that I've have a lot of fun, doing loads of shows. You do a show of twenty artists, and they each bring in twenty friends, who are more or less creatives, you see that community in real life a lot. I can give you a list of four hundred great artists and illustrators in Singapore. There's no shortage of talent.
It really is annoying when people have that lazy idea like there's no talent, like do your fucking homework.
When you look at illustrators in London for example, straight away, six people will share a studio and sleep there. And that only starting to happen here with co-sharing spaces.
Lisa: That's a really good point though. Because [in Singapore], you live with your parents, until you're married, right? Or you get married and you buy your own home. There's not this idea of just sitting on a couch until you make the next Facebook, or whatever. Give us a snapshot on your experience of why more creative graduates don't go into creative industries.
Lenice: Sometimes it's difficult for Singaporeans to feel uncomfortable. Because to come out together, to stay by yourselves and be independent, its not something that everyone can do. Maybe because they have the comfort of their parents' home. And also, because Singapore is really small. I can get from one end to the other in an hour or one and a half hours. So most people will think that 'if I move out, I'm wasting money'. Money that could go to food or transport.
But I do feel that if people are more uncomfortable and feel if they have nothing left to lose, that where they will strive, and they'll go higher.
Lisa: The start-up thing is not easy for everyone. Not every creative is good at everything, 360. It's asking a lot for creatives to go into the wild wild west with $10 in their pocket. It’s not easy.
Mojoko: It's not easy, but a lot of it is also DIY. I think there's a bit of an obsession in Singapore with brand [names] or material things. I think that's a hang up for a lot of people, because they don understand what satisfaction you can get out of creating.
Prajna: You hit the nail on the head, I think people are tinkerers. I think, if we get out our monkey brains, we have this desire to learn more about things. And if we're put in an environment with those tinkering tools within our reach, then something magic is going to happen. And there are a lot of people building mini communities in Singapore right now. And then they're getting traction. And what I'm trying to do is to do what you say, it's like, if we can't make a London, like as big as London, then we're gonna make mini London.
Lisa: Prajna, for your new project. If you want to talk about that a bit more.
Prajna: It gonna be called the Constellation. Yeah, it's like everyone's a star. But you can [connect] them any way you want. And it's about the universe, right? It's about elevating consciousness and helping people find their purpose.
One is going to be fashion design, arts, literature, visuals. Another one's gonna be entertainment: theatre, music, YouTube, film, dance, another one's going to be ventures and the startup scene, and technology. A fourth one is health and well being, consciousness and energy. And then the fifth is food - food tech, hospitality.
So imagine all those, and we would have a community leader that's well respected within the industry to attract people. Because they understand like, they started from nothing, and they became something, and they wanted people to experience that themselves. And I guess the rocket fuel we're injecting is we're literally bringing the absolute best.
Originally, it wasn't Singapore. It was in Indonesia, that made more sense to me because of the population. And just the blatant creative energy, and I believe in Indonesia that creativity is a natural resource. Without, unfortunately, the development, the infrastructure.
And I was asked by my business partner to look at Singapore. My first question was like, why? There's no talent in Singapore. And then I came over.
The first thing was, well, at least it'd be a good place for the west to come and figure out Asia. because theyre not gonna go to Jakarta. And then I got this idea going. If we get all the best people from around the world and Singapore, with a vibe that's very open, and human - then maybe we could have this creative, critical mass that will let people come out of the woodwork. So I did some exploration, and I quickly found there's like, a lot of talent out there.
Lisa: Oh, I get shivers. So when you say like that critical mass. I feel like there's an inflection point where you have enough of the most creative people from around the world meeting in one place in New York. And that starts having its own momentum and just keeps drawing and drawing. Like Berlin, has become a centre for amazing deephouse music and DJs. And obviously, SoundCloud.
So it gets to a point where suddenly you don't have to push or create because the structure is there. And there's that magnetism.
Prajna: I've seen it time and time again, creatives attract creatives. So, if you get enough creatives that are like mind and getting from point A to point B, then things start to happen.
Lisa: That's why so many small things fail. I think it's because they don't have the right mix of personalities. Right? The visionary needs the operator, like it's a whole mix. [And] Singapore is totally the place to do that.
Prajna: Absolutely the place!
Mojoko: What's interesting is like - if the music's industry thriving, then all those graphic designers suddenly have cool jobs to work on, not like those bullshit DBS ads.
Lisa: But I think different industries can lead other industries as well. Let's say film, or music. If a really great hit show on Netflix is done out of Singapore, we could do styling for it.
Lisa: So listen, I want to wrap this up with a very provocative question. Don't answer anything that would incriminate you. But for a lot of iconic legendary creatives over time, they've had a very liberal relationship with drugs, right? And in Singapore, that's completely off the table. Unless you're very, very naughty! Do you think it impacts things or do you think that's a new opportunity? What's your guys' take?
Mojoko: There's a grey area for me but sometimes visual art - if you're off your tits the whole time - You can't make, you can't compose images. Ok, you can, but its not an essential part of the process. Especially you look at a new creative forms, which is like creative coding, things that require really technical knowledge of stuff. Well, you can't do that with your mashed.
Lisa: Maybe the person at the top is creative, that you've mentioned doesn't need it, because he's already fucking crazy.
Prajna: I think that there's a spiritual guide that can get you to those places and you don't need drugs. You really don't.
Lisa: I agree.
Prajna: Before I was like, "I don't even need drugs". A friend of mine told me that they meditated because they could get to where drugs got them. But I feel that with the right teacher - and there's ready access to these teachers - you can find those states without drugs.
Lenice: As a Singaporean... you only live once, so it makes sense to try. But I think Know your limits, because maybe in Singapore, everything feels dangerous, because you're not educated about it. But maybe if you try it for yourself, and you know that oh, this is this, I wouldn't want to do any more. You have to basically know your limits.
Lisa: All right. Well, thank you so much for weighing in. I really I could just talk to you guys all day long.