This group of four is basically one of the most interesting collectives to surface out of Singapore in quite a while. With an incredibly diverse range of projects behind them, you can’t help but wonder: “What can’t these guys do?”. And not just “do” – they knock it out of the park consistently. They are imaginative, intelligent, ambitious and funny as hell. We like these guys.
Group name: :phunk studio
Members: William Chan, Melvin Chee, Alvin Tan And Jackson Tan. We’re a visual rock band!
Mission: At the beginning, it’s about getting invited to parties and getting laid…
Clients: Levi’s, MTV, Nike, Be.bike, Nokia and more importantly ourselves. We felt a sense of duty to not only put a spotlight on their work, but learn something about this imaginative bunch. You wanna see what the future smells like? Take a deep breath. These kids play for keeps. —
Anchorpoint: First off – where does the name Phunk Studios come from? Does it have any special meaning?
Phunk Studio: We saw an ad on a UK magazine call ‘Straight No Chaser’ around ’93, it’s promoting a night called ‘Phunky Nites’. We just got together around that time and wanted to start our very own t-shirt label and we thought the word ‘Phunk’ looks kinda cool and it goes with those ‘rave’ graphics we were doing then, so we decided to call our label “Phunk Graphics”… but the t-shirt label was an absolute failure… we were really good friends by then so we decided to form a design collective to continue to work together. We kept the ‘phunk’ and replace ‘graphics’ with ‘studio’.
Anchorpoint: How did you all meet?
Phunk Studio: We were all classmates at Lasalle College of the Arts.
Anchorpoint: Singapore is an interesting place. Politically, artistically and culturally it is unlike any other place in the world. What role does your city play on your creative process?
Phunk Studio: Culturally, we live in a multi-racial society. The fact that being english and chinese educated allow us to enjoy the best of both worlds… an example, we spent our time as teens listening to bands like new order, depeche mode, the smiths and etc… and at the same time, we were obsessed with hong kong ‘sword fighting’ television series like ‘The Condor Heroes Trilogy by Jinyong aka Louise Cha” and spent the rest of the time skateboarding, jamming and reading manga… So you can imagine… our creative process are pretty much shaped by these different information jumbled up…
Anchorpoint: It seems as though your crew dabbles in many different disciplines. You don’t seem to be afraid to try anything. Is this quality an advantage or disadvantage?
Phunk Studio: We get bored with ‘things’ pretty fast… so we’re always looking for something new to try. It’s both a good and bad thing… in the beginning, especially in Singapore, nobody had a clue what we really do because we seems to be working on all kinds of media… but overtime that became an advantage to us. These days we get all kinds of creative commissions, from illustrations to designing of typefaces to making videos to making large scale sculptures for tube stations and etc…
Anchorpoint: What role does vector art play in your work?
Phunk Studio: It’s quite important because when were students we were taught how to us the software Freehand (and for some reason we never learn how to use Illustrator…) and working on vectors is something thats very nature for our generation of designers…
Anchorpoint: What are the main advantages of working with vector art?
Phunk Studio: We like the clean sharp lines vector based software produced and the fact that the file size is really small and drawings are scaleable without losing resolution.
Anchorpoint: How difficult is it for you to move your illustrations into animation?
Phunk Studio: It’s not that difficult I supposed because that kind of animations we produced are not that complicated… but when we are working on a complicated piece, we’ll work will external animators and we’ll play the role of art and creative directors.
Anchorpoint: Even your commercial projects seem to have an artistic flare. How do you convince your clients to trust your creative instincts?
Phunk Studio: I guess we’re lucky in a way that most our clients come to us because they already know our work fairly well, so we really don’t need to spend too much time convincing them about our creative process and direction.
Anchorpoint: You’ve worked with some very impressive brands. Do they tend to seek you out or do you have a promotion plan?
Phunk Studio: We never really have any promotion plans… almost all clients look us up by themselves. Usually after they saw our work on some magazines and books.
Anchorpoint: Clothing is another area that you seem to dominate in. Who is wearing your gear and where do you sell it?
Phunk Studio: We usually get commission by different labels. We also have our own retail space here call White Room that carries other labels and our own.
Anchorpoint: How exactly do 4 kids from Singapore get museum showings and gallery appearances in some of the world’s most prestigious and infamous locations? What is your secret to conning your way to the top?
Phunk Studio: I think its a mix of luck and passion for our work.
Anchorpoint: With all of this accomplishment behind you, what goals do you have for the next 5 years?
Phunk Studio: We never try to set any goals because we never tend to follow them… what’s important is as long as we’re still together, doing the work we love and having a laugh doing it.
Anchorpoint: Here’s a little psychological test to give your fans insight into your collective mind. For each word, give a one-word response.
Iraq – Peace
Singapore – Home
Money – Necessities
Computers – Necessities
Sex – Yes
Love – Essential
Friendship – Trust
Toys – Dusty
Skateboarding – Freedom
Anchorpoint: Out of the four of you, name the group member who is most likely to:
Phunk Studio:Sleep in the latest : Alvin Spend the most on clothing : Alvin Drive the worst : Technically, Melvin because the rest of us doesn’t have driving licenses. Skate the worst : Jackson Sleep with his X-Box : Melvin Drink the most tea : William Win a beauty contest : Jackson
Anchorpoint: This site is dedicated to artists who work in and appreciate vector artwork. What advice do you have for those who wish to follow in your footsteps?