Michael Lau has played a pivotal role in street cultural for more than a decade now, but the celebrations of the Gardener 10th are testimony to a genuinely creative mind. What began as a comic, the Gardener has evolved into something that has had a global effect and it is fitting that the exhibition celebrating 10 years is at De La Barracuda. Here we have cauht up with Michael and discussed what this milestone means to the artists and where he sees the Gardener will go from here. In addition be prepared for collaborations with MINDstyle, The Hundreds, De La Barracuda and yours truly SLAMXHYPE which will be available online here from Wednesday. In addition you can expect to see much more in the upcoming edition of THE NEW ORDER.
SLAMXHYPE – What was the initial idea and concept for the Gardener? what does it mean for you?
MICHAEL LAU – Gardener was born in a comic series I developed for a local magazine named East Touch in 1998. the inspiration behind gardener came from the friends around me and the booming street culture then, including elements of music, fashion, x-game and so forth. gardener was made into 3D action figures in 1999 when i had the first gardener exhibition at the Hong Kong art centre.
The Gardener was a turning point to me in terms of my career , it also guided my future creative direction because i used to paint but didn’t get me very far, the gardener created a new platform for me to express my creativity In this 3D medium which was new to me and to the world then.
SLAMXHYPE – How do you feel the Gardener has evolved from its inception? How has it effected the world around you?
MICHAEL LAU – When I looked back at the development of the gardener, it felt like a long time to me. however, every time when i looked at the actual gardener figure, it was still able to bring a new perspective to me. i felt gardener already became a part of me and had grown with me over the past 10 years.
On how the gardener effected the world around me, actually I never really thought about it or realized it until people kept telling me that the gardener had in fact inspired on the whole development of the vinyl designer toy scene. then I figured maybe the Gardener did inspire the world on using an action figure as a creative platform, and that felt nice.
SLAMXHYPE – The Gardener has had a huge impact on the vinyl toy community for a decade. How do you plan to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Gardener?
MICHAEL LAU – Pop a champagne and keep working…
Actually i am really glad to be able to bring the Gardener to the united states finally for its 10th anniversary. as the whole street culture inspiration of the gardener was in fact heavily stemmed from the US, it was interesting that they can finally travelled to US to meet the citizens there.
Michael Lau Gardener 10th VIP Exclusive
SLAMXHYPE – The US is new territory for you to showcase your work. What are the motivations to work there?
MICHAEL LAU – Same as the birth of the gardener, it all happened in a coincidence. i met the organizer of the show this time, MINDstyle, a few years back and they were a group of passionate folks who are really into my work and thus suggested we work together to bring the gardener over to US for its 10th anniversary. I thought it was a great idea because I had always wanted to show the gardener to the folks In US, I almost felt this is needed to complete the gardener journey since they had already travelled to different cities in Asia, Europe but had never set foot in North America.
Gardener 107 + 107.5
SLAMXHYPE – How has your way of sourcing inspiration changed since the first piece to now? What is the process for creating new characters?
MICHAEL LAU – At the very beginning, most of my creative inspirations were coming from the friends around me and like i said, the booming street culture then.
Gradually, my source of inspiration became broader, it could be something happening in the world (eg. the ‘no war’ character created in 2003) or sports, such as the ‘Michael football cup 2004’ or from the contemporary fashion scene, like the collaboration with Terry Richardson for Diesel in 2007.
SLAMXHYPE – What are some of the collaborations over the last 10 years that stand out?
MICHAEL LAU – ‘The total 90 blackball exhibition’, ‘Mr. Shoe’ and ‘2006 Gardener meets Nike’ work with Nike and the different collaboration with Maharishi and the one with Terry Richardson for Diesel.
All these partners were very flexible in allowing me to exercise my creative muscle and the folks there were fun to work with.
SLAMXHYPE – How did this effect you choosing partners for the “Gardener 10th Anniversary”?
MICHAEL LAU – Freedom, trust and friendship
Michael Lau Gardener SLAMXHYPE Exclusive
SLAMXHYPE – Talking about the SLAMXHYPE collaboration, can you tell us a bit about how you implemented the design for this specific piece.
MICHAEL LAU – I can only tell people that the few collaborations I did for the Gardener 10th exhibition this time were all developed under a same creative approach.
Michael Lau Gardener SLAMXHYPE Exhibition Wood Exclusive
SLAMXHYPE – What do you see in the future for Michael Lau and “Gardener”?
MICHAEL LAU – I hope to bring the gardener to some new places that they have not been to before, like the Middle East, Berlin and Amsterdam for example.
For me personally, Crazysmiles will soon launch a sub-brand where my wife, Florance, will be managing and that will bring totally different range of products that are targeting the young and trendy female consumers, which will be totally different to what are being offered by Crazysmiles now.