DC Shoes explores punk rock art of Mark Ong


Industry Updates

Mark Ong, aka SBTG

Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 6 May, 2013 : - - Legendary Singaporean sneaker customizer and designer Mark Ong, aka SBTG, has again teamed up with The HUB, the  DC Shoes. He will be back at The HUB in Paris, creative studio of DC for his exclusive exhibition Acoustic Anarchy in Paris from Friday 17th of May to Saturday 22nd of June. This exhibition will feature exclusive limited series of silkscreen prints and workshops. For the occasion, DC made an interview with the artist which has been published in The HUB Paper #

Who is Mark Ong?
Hi there, my name is Mr Sabotage and I was born and raised in Singapore. I grew up in the arly 80s with a passion for drawing as a kid. I remember racing home to catch the He-man cartoons at 6.30pm after school. I would sit in front of the TV drawing what was on screen. I had to draw from memory as the screen was moving fast so I developed a skill of being observant. I spent the whole of the 90s exposed to skateboarding, punk music and eventually I went to design school and graduated with a diploma in interactive media design.

It was the birth of the dot com era and we learnt to build websites. Unlike graphic design, we learnt that web design has many restrictions. And somehow I took it as a challenge to create within boundaries. I went to the army after that for 2.5 years and when that was done, I worked in a sneaker store called Leftfoot selling sneakers and eventually doing design work for them. A while after, I started to customize sneakers. I ended up having a 10 year career doing that full time.

When were you first introduced to art ?
I was never really into art; like being in the scene or anything like that. The punk rocker in me found it to be too corny. There was never an artist that I resonated with till I found out about Futura 2000. He stood out from the sea of aerosol artists. I was very intrigued by the way he manipulated the spray can. I became obsessed by his craft and I began to experiment on defining my own style. Then I came to know about Michael Lau and his 12’’ figure customization. That was the trigger for me to start customizing and showcasing my stuff to people and stores. Some years later, I met Futura and I kind of took him around Singapore when he visited. I also went to his studio in Brooklyn and it made me decide that this would be my career for life.

What were you influences growing up?
It feels like I have been skateboarding all my life. I think I started when I was 8 years old and I still do now! When I was growing up, I listened to metal. It was the age of Metallica and Slayer, and I was always in all black. I only wish I could grow my hair but I was still in school. During that time I was the school captain of the basketballteam. After high school, I started listening to a lot of punk bands like Lagwagon, NOFX and Rancid. That’s what was in my Walkman and Discman all the time. I looked up to Michael Jordan for basketball and Tom Penny for skateboarding.

Can you tell us more about the work you did as a sneakers customizer?

Well I adopted the DIY spirit as early as when I was in Primary school. My dad once helped me build a rocket ship out of a toothpaste box. That opened my eyes on how I could evolve beyond my surroundings. I soon started painting blood on my He- man toys to mimic battle scenes. When I was skating I would cut up weird patterns on my grip tape and mix colors and shit. In school, my bags were all decked with safety pins and my shoes had neon laces. So looking back, it was more like a way of life for me already. I started to get known for customizing sneakers in the early 2000s.

Mostly in a tight community, on the online forum called Nike Talk. There was a sneaker custom competition and I won. That did it for me really. I got an order from Atmos, Chapter and Ambush to produce 72 pairs right after. When I was presented with an opportunity to customize sneakers as a business, I already had the skills and instincts. To customize a sneaker, my approach was to take a pair of sneakers and to customize it to look as if it was factory made. It had many restrictions, but it came naturally as I was trained in web design. So 10 years of that, I felt that my mission was sort of complete in that field and I felt the natural urge to start painting on other mediums. The philosophy and approach did not change from sneakers to other mediums like wood and canvases, the message is still all punk and skate driven. Looking back I realize that everything I did had lead up to something bigger later. It’s so exciting.

What is the meaning of Acoustic Anarchy?
Acoustic Anarchy is the name that we used for our exhibition which is mostly punk music and skate driven. I used that name as I felt that painting and creating art is a very peaceful thing which relates to the Acoustic version of all that rebellious spirit. We want to create an experience based on the two opposite spectrums. We did a big show in Singapore back in 2012 where we presented a big body of work featuring prints of our illustrations, painted skateboards, painting flags and a display of punk rock horror light boxes. It was so much fun! We are excited to travel this show to Paris.

What are your future projects?
There are many things in the pipeline aside from our daily studio excitement and commission art. We have plans to travel AA back to Singapore to do another show, and we are forecasting it to travel to Manila and Taiwan. We have an on going project with DC shoes where we release some tees every season. We will also do a second project with Thrasher to release a shoe.


Source: DC Europe

Author: Emmanuel Labadie

Tags: DC Shoes, Europe, The Hub,  Mark Ong, aka SBTG

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