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Michael Lau x Nike "JUST DO IT" Exhibition Interview

Back in July, one of Hong Kong’s most visible illustrators and pop artists Michael Lau once again joined forces with the regional Nike team for an exhibition titled “JUST DO IT.” The exhibition featured some never before explored mediums from the creative and toymaker who explored some of Nike’s most iconic athletes from multiple disciplines. We caught up with Lau regarding his latest body of work.

What was the concept proposed by Nike for this exhibition?
The theme for this exhibition is “JUST DO IT.” Nike gave me 100% creative freedom to achieve what I wanted to do. Taking place in an industrial compound, the space made it easy for me to sketch out a small gallery concept.

What did you want to personally achieve?
Looking back at my past collaborations with Nike, they all consisted of 3D objects, figures and sneakers. Never did they take on a sketch or illustration theme. For this exhibition, I wanted to create a space to display these drawings which were inspired by the quote “JUST DO IT.” Although they’re iconic words associated with Nike, the true meaning is probably lost on a lot of people.

You had the chance to appropriate sporting greats like Jordan, Cantona, Armstrong and Prefontaine. What was it like trying to capture their greatness?
We picked Jordan, Cantona, Armstrong and Prefontaine to work with as they’ve expressed time to time, the “JUST DO IT” message and mentality. The exhibition space is also divided into four different segments – this is to indicate the four different sports they represent.

How did you decide on a pen/wood format? How does your work differ from what you usually do?
If you notice, the interior of the space consists of a lot of wood decor, so the idea of doing the work on pen/wood kinda stems from that. I also explored more into biro drawings lately and have been a fan of more delicate, smaller-scale canvas. The works shown are mainly based on famous quotes from the athletes, therefore I feel colors and overly designed elements might take away from the overall message.

Having been known for toy-making, what does it mean when you work more in paintings and illustrations?
I started my career in drawing, working with subjects which I felt attached to and had personal meaning to me. However surviving in Hong Kong with just one set of skills is pretty hard, so that’s why I branched out into different aspects of art back then. As you know I’ve been working with figures for a number of years and as I’m getting older, I feel it’s a right time to go back to where I started.

Is there a particular art form you prefer?
There is no particular art form which I prefer as they have their own positive points, but this is now a good time to reflect on what I’ve achieved and to explore the different possibilities that are out there.

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