MY BAG

Creative collaborations

Artist Jahan Loh has had his art featured on toys and skate shoes for international brands

Over the course of his creative career, which began in the 1990s, Singaporean contemporary artist Jahan Loh has had his art featured in toy, apparel and footwear collaborations with brands such as Vans, Sony, Nike and streetwear label Subcrew.

His latest project is with Japanese watch brand G-Shock, for whom he created an art exhibition at its flagship store in Shanghai. The exhibition, which was launched earlier this week and will end on July 7, is in celebration of the brand's first anniversary in Shanghai.

Called Static Parity: Time Travelling, the show features eight pieces in his signature style which blends mediums such as acrylic and spray paint with a neo-pop aesthetic.

The 38-year-old artist says that his collaboration and relationship with G-Shock grew organically after the company purchased some of his art for its Beijing store a couple of years ago.

The brand liked his work so much that soon after, it commissioned him to create its store signboard.


Jahan Loh’s latest project is with Japanese watch brand G-Shock, for whom he created a one-month exhibition at its flagship store in Shanghai, China. ST PHOTOS: TAMARA CRAIU

  • ON HIS BAG

  • I bought this from skateboarding clothing brand Supreme in New York early last year. I like that it has a lot of compartments and is very functional. I am not very organised so the bag helps me to compartmentalise my things a little better. I throw my bags around quite a bit so the camouflage design also disguises the dirt.

  • Things in his bag

  • Wallet

    It is quite "kiddy"-looking but I like that it has a tropical Hawaiian design that looks very happy. I don't really like leather wallets because they start to smell if I carry them in my pants pocket for a long time. I prefer nylon and synthetic materials.


    Name card holder

    My wife bought this for me a couple of years ago when she was still my girlfriend.


    Sketchbook

    I carry a sketchbook with me everywhere. I use it to jot down ideas or make sketches. I started with this one early this year. Each usually lasts about one or two months. I probably have about 60 sketchbooks in my studio. I'm not particular about the pens I use, but I like Zebra pens.


    Laptop

    The stickers are from various brands and artists that I like and also from my own work. I work on my laptop rather than a desktop, so I carry it back and forth from home to my studio every day.


    Keys

    I have keys for my car - an old black Mercedes CE coupe from 1988 - my home and my studio.


    MM6 pouch

    I keep my documents and cheque books in this. My wife picked it out for me.

This latest collaboration, as well as his previous ones, has proven to Loh that it is possible to keep one's artistic integrity while working with commercial brands.

"You can keep your art practice alive by working with different entities. My art work has been used for music CD covers and vinyl toys. There are a lot of extensions to art."

It is something the Lasalle College of the Arts and University of New South Wales alumnus wants younger artists to realise.

"Basically for younger artists, when you come out of school, you should know that there are a lot of different career paths that you can take," says Loh, who is married to a 31-year-old editor who works at the Esplanade. They do not have children.

His first commercial collaboration was with musical instrument company Vestax. He created a limited-edition toy for it in 1999.

This led to further limited-edition toy projects for dance club Zouk, Taiwanese hip-hop group Machi, and fashion and sportswear label Adidas.

Another notable collaboration was in 2008 with American skate shoe brand Vans. The company, in collaboration with sneaker boutique Leftfoot Taipei, commissioned a series of artworks which was later used on skate decks and shoes.

Loh, who used to work in The Straits Times' art department, has taken part in art exhibitions both here and overseas in cities such as New York, Tokyo, Melbourne and Hong Kong. His most recent exhibition here was B-Side & Rarities at Ion Art Gallery in March, which showcased artworks that were used in commercial collaborations.

He says he does not create his work to fit anyone's mould but his own.

"My art runs parallel to the commercial market. I don't bend my art to what the market wants. I still do something that is different and maybe if a commercial entity thinks that it is suitable for its product, then we will take things from there."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 09, 2016, with the headline 'Creative collaborations'. Print Edition | Subscribe