Street artist Sam Lo, popularly known as “Sticker Lady”, recently collaborated with G-SHOCK Casio to commemorate Singapore’s 54th birthday. The limited edition G-SHOCK x SKL0 collection feature Lo’s artistic interpretations printed on the timepiece brands iconic GX-56BB model. We spoke to her to find out more about the symbolism’s in her design, her thoughts on the Singapore art scene, and what motivates her to create art. Read on to find out what she had to say.
Tell us about how you came to be known as “Sticker Lady”.
In 2012 I got into some trouble with the law for vandalism when I pasted stickers on traffic light buttons all over Singapore, in an attempt to take back public spaces, and to make them more relevant to the public. The stickers contained Singlish phrases and other quirks related to Singaporeans, which grew in popularity, and led the popular blogger mrbrown to coin the name “Sticker Lady”. Everyone else seemed to just pick that up, and I guess I’ve just come to embrace it.
But with this G-SHOCK Casio collaboration and many other recent ones, I’ve had the privilege to be profiled on and I hope it’s clear that I don’t just make stickers!
- How did you get started in street art?
I got started in 2009 when I designed my first stickers promoting the online magazine I created (RCGNTN) documenting Singaporean creatives. That was when I was first exposed to street culture and everything that came with it. The public space was a medium I knew I wanted to reach the mass public with, and I utilised this to a larger degree with my traffic light button stickers in 2011.
Shoutout to the veterans who came alongside me in that season! Including the boys I used to cycle with, Crank Arm Steady and SUP Clothing whom I used to hang out with a lot at Haji Lane. They used to do typography which went on the tees and stickers, and I picked up from there and would ask for their advice, and also advice from the Instagram-sphere where I had followers vote on which design they preferred and how I could improve.
I was also inducted into the urban art collective RSCLS, with whom I expanded into stencils. ANTZ was my partner in crime back then and helped me bring ‘My Grandfather Road‘ to life.
There’s this belief that great art comes from pain, do you believe in that?
I do believe pain creates powerful, raw artwork that’s brutally honest. I believe the work we create is a result of our mind frame, inclusive of the cumulative experiences and knowledge we have at specific points in time—somewhat like a snapshot of ourselves and our understanding of the world at that given moment of creation.
However with that being said, positive feelings and positive motivations come with pain, and those also produce great art. I’m a firm believer that if you pour your heart into an artwork, your emotions and thoughts can be read in the artwork. That in itself is powerful, because, like pain, all other emotions like happiness, sadness, and anger are human and reflective of the human experience—and that in itself is important.
I get my inspiration from current events, my environment, the socio-political climate and human behaviour. They are social narratives that usually reflective of the times.
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- How did the collaboration with G-SHOCK come about?
I was invited by G-SHOCK along with other artists to submit a proposal for the limited edition timepiece. The collaboration was in celebration of National Day, so naturally the theme was Singapore. The inspiration behind this piece is a reflection of our constantly evolving culture, where we currently stand as a first world city and the new values we hold in the pursuit of excellence.
The proposal was submitted to the Singapore office, and within a week I got news that my proposal was chosen. G-SHOCK is a brand that has been part of my life for as long as I can remember, so needless to say I was real stoked!
Can you tell us more about the elements featured in your design for the watch and what they mean to you?
The design started with the 5 stars, and how, when rearranged, they resembled excellence (5-star ratings). I found this apt in describing our first world city and our pursuit of perfection. An extension of my current mind frame and dialogue on Singaporean culture, the design comprises and is reflective of the elements we see a lot of in today’s context—vigilance, economy, power, heritage and “lucky” symbols. I found that these elements are reflective of today’s culture as they are embedded in our daily lives, playing a part in the evolution of our culture and our way of life.
- Why was including Peranakan motifs in your illustrations for this collaboration important to you?
I’ve always been fascinated by tiles and patterns (not limited to Peranakan tiles) for their story-telling ability, how they document a time, how they reflect different cultures. My intrigue with culture led me to this visual style. I felt I could say a lot with this medium, commenting on the evolution of culture through a traditional style.
What are your thoughts on the art scene in Singapore?
The art scene in Singapore is growing, with more talent entering the market. It is a promising, exciting time.
- What does being a Singaporean mean to you?
Being Singaporean is a mix of everything—we have information at our fingertips from the digital revolution, exposure and adoption of Western ideologies with firm roots in Asian culture and upbringing. We are a melting pot of cultures, influences and ideologies; we are young and we are growing.
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- What major trends are you seeing right now in terms of street art and art in general, locally and globally?
Recently more works combining public art with technology have been coming up, utilising augmented reality to bring murals to life. With this, we’re seeing an increase in interactivity and engagement, and I feel that it’s an interesting way to view art.
One other trend I’ve noticed in recent years is the demand for ‘instagrammable’ artworks, which I feel can take away from the point of the artwork but at the same time increase engagement with the work, which is what a lot of people seem to go for.
If you knew then what you know now, what advice would you give to your younger self?
I’d tell my younger self to get started earlier, to learn to be better at financial planning, and that if I were to follow my heart’s compass it’ll be okay, no matter how hard it can get.
The G-SHOCK x SKL0 timepiece retails for S$299 and is available at all G-SHOCK Boutiques (except IMM).