Both emerging out of Hong Kong’s creative scene on opposite spectrums, lyricist Wyman Wong and toy-maker Eric So’s latest collaboration brings together two very different entities. Known for his toy and figure designs, it comes as no surprise that the inclusion of Eric So in this coming together is reflected in a collection of figures. Hinted as the start of perhaps something larger and multi-dimensional, the YOSFUN initiative kicks off with two figures. With Wyman’s penchant for fashion, the figures embody this concept with a distinct sartorial approach. A regular black version as well as a special pink “Birthday” version, to celebrate Wyman’s birthday, are each retailing separately through
Interview: Eugene Kan
Photography: Cavan Mok
Interview with Eric So (ES) & Wyman Wong (WW)
Hello Eric and Wyman, thanks a lot for the opportunity. First off, how did you end up in your respective professions and how long have you been plying your trade?
ES: Ever since I was little kid, I developed a great interest in applying creativity through design. After graduating from design school, I spent the past 20 years as a designer in various facets and platforms, but most notably as a toy designer.
WW: I’ve been a Cantonese Pop music lyricist for the past 15 years. Back in 2003, I began dabbling in writing, which included a fashion column in the Apple Daily, titled “Buy me a Sunday”. Aside from this I’ve had a few roles in movies as well… but at the end of the day, my career could easily be considered shopping, something I’ve been devoted to since the age of 3.
How did this project originally take shape and develop?
ES: I originally met Wyman at an event. Through a series of conversations, I felt based on our own respective backgrounds we could put together a unique project, starting off with toys. Essentially this was the start of the YSOFUN project.
WW: Based on our initial meeting, we started this project as something that we thought could develop on its own. There wasn’t any pressure to make something that needed to hit certain goals, just the thought “let’s take this idea and see how far it can go.” It was the idea of “mini-haute couture” that I wanted to express and I wanted the apparel aspect of the figures to showcase a large part of the overall toy.
Aside from the figures, what else does the project entail?
ES: From the get go, there was never this inherent need to have a regimented timeline or plan to what we were developing. All in all, it came down to putting out a product we felt that was interesting, unique and well-executed. The mentality of not having a concrete aim really helps us create something that can fully embody the creative aspect.
WW: While the first release includes a series of figures, we still haven’t mapped out the process as Eric mentioned. Who knows; down the line this whole YSOFUN project could be tackled from a variety of angles, including t-shirts, coffee mugs and USB sticks, to maybe even online games? It’s something we can approach case-by-case without a real need to force decisions.
How does this YSOFUN project differ from what you usually do in terms of both work and collaboration?
ES: In the past, I usually maintained a position as the creative, as well as handling the conceptualization and production; But this time around I handed the creative duties over to Wyman. Working and feeding off of Wyman’s own creativity allows me to broaden my horizons. It’s definitely inspirational in its own right and creates a new set of challenges.
WW: In my usual line of work, I’m often working solo. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing as I choose this sort of environment and I thrive under these conditions. So having said that, I rarely team-up, but I do get a good feeling if the right opportunity comes along. I’m more than confident when working together with Eric.
How would you each describe your own respective lines of work?
ES: If I could sum it up in two words, probably “interesting” and “challenging”. For most people, Wyman inclusive, they’ve never really undergone a transformation from the real-world into cartoon form. So the interesting aspect can be associated with the transformative aspect, since Wyman has never been portrayed as a cartoon character. Challenging is representative of what I strive for each time I put together a project and YSOFUN was definitely on a similar course. It was great to work with somebody like Wyman who has such a strong dedication to quality.
WW: Based on my background as a lyricist, I would probably have to say something like “romantic”?
Having worked together on this project, what sort of similarities do you share?
ES: I think above all else, we both maintained a high-level of quality that manifested itself throughout the project. It was all about putting together something solid and most importantly unique.
WW: I feel the same as Eric, a certain perfectionist mentality is shared by both of us.
What are some of your thoughts on people from a small creative community like Hong Kong working together? How important is it?
ES: While Hong Kong’s creative scene is relatively small, it’s important that each and every individual possesses a certain mindset of helping one another, as I feel this helps grow things on the whole. And as a result, you hopefully see some fun and notable things take shape, like this project.
WW: I would argue that it depends on what sort of creative line you specialize in. For some, if you’re a one-man band, it’s probably best if you kept to yourself, since it can be difficult finding compatible entities. It’s not easy to find and develop a relationship where 1 plus 1 is greater than 2. It’s something really dependent on the situation.
Eric, could you give us a little background about the process behind your toy-making? How long does it usually take?
ES: As you would imagine, it usually starts with a concept. From there I go through a sculpting process to make sure everything looks correct. I then go through a stage of speaking with vendors to work together to develop the costumes/accessories. From there we go into sampling and then once those kinks have been ironed out, we go onto production. Depending on the complexity of the project and the deadline, it can vary quite a bit.
Wyman, many would consider you a fashion icon throughout Hong Kong, what are some of your favorite brands and why?
WW: In no particular order I would say COMME des GARCONS for going against the grain and defying the conventional logic of creating clothes, YSL by Stefano Pilati for his never ending self-evolution in design, and finally Raf Simons for bringing street to high fashion through re-appropriation.
Thanks a lot for your time and best of luck with future YSOFUN projects!