[Interview] Artist Sam Lo and Mark Ong of SBTG – for Culture Cartel | Campus

From Art, Toys, Tattoo, to Fashion, this weekend’s Culture Cartel is Asia’s first event to unite the street culture community. More than 100 street artists, designers, tattoo artists, and urban brands across the world will gather to put together a holistic and interactive street culture showcase that has never been seen before in Asia.

Catch prominent industry leaders such as Jackson Aw of Mighty Jaxx, Mandeep Chopra of Limited Edt, Whatshisname (UK), Mark Ong of SBTG, and street artist Sam Lo.

What do they have in store for visitors to Culture Cartel? Here’s what they say:

Sam Lo

Samantha Lo, aka SKL0, is one of Singapore’s most well-known street artists. Dubbed the “Sticker Lady”, Lo became a household name in Singapore after she was arrested for spray painting on a public road in 2012.

Considering that you use streets of Singapore as a medium for your art, which is not only unique but got you a lot of attention in 2013, what do you think Culture Cartel does for the art scene in Singapore?

The art scene in Singapore is flourishing with more creatives entering the market, which is great because it brings together more ideas and opportunities for collaboration. Culture Cartel celebrates the street culture that I fell in love with when I first got started with creative work, and an event like this not only exposes us to others in the industry, it also helps inspires us to new ideas, new techniques and ways of looking at the world through this vibrant energy only the streets could provide.

Do you incorporate that experience in your art work today? And do you feel such experiences are necessary to produce meaningful, impactful art?

The nature of art being subjective, I believe art is meaningful to those it can relate to based on numerous factors like cultural background, upbringing, personal preference as well as colour composition and balance. It all boils down to who you are making work for and your intention behind it. Personally, I make work inspired by the people I’m cohabiting this ecosystem with and it is for them I create for. It brings along my personal experiences as well as observations of the world, hoping to introduce an alternate way of looking at things.

What do you hope is the message your art conveys to the audience of Culture Cartel?

I will be showing a new work that goes back to my sculpting practice 3-4 years ago. To me, it is an ambitious piece that I feel is necessary to revisit and overcome both in terms of visual concept and technique in an attempt to introduce a visual style that feels more like mine. In short, this piece is the birth of an evolution of my practice and is quite honestly a little scary for me, and I really hope you guys will like it too.


Mark Ong (SBTG)

Mark Ong has been doodling and painting on sneakers for about 15 years, and it’s now his full-time career. Working under the moniker Mr Sabotage (SBTG), Mark is dubbed Singapore’s OG sneaker artist and has collaborated with brands like Asics and Nike.

With a rich influence from Singaporean culture, SBTG has a unique presence in the local sneaker and arts scene. What is the key message SBTG sends at a local street culture event like Culture Cartel?

The SBTG brand is essentially a camouflaged skater with a punk soundtrack. We stand for having the freedom to be who and what we wanna be and the message we wanna send at Culture Cartel is the importance of questioning trends. 

Having been an OG to sneaker culture and sneaker customisation, how has the culture of sneakerheads in Singapore changed over time?

It’s gone crazy, it was exactly what I secretly wished for. It’s now so diverse and the expression has gone to such extremes, resulting in parts that I both love and hate. I feel that this creates a balance and it’s happening whether we like it or not. We could now do what we would never have dreamt of back then.

With a line of shoes named AWOL, how do you creatively incorporate your own experiences and the Singaporean culture into your pieces? Is it something you consciously choose to do?

Interesting observation! We view sneakers as a vehicle for us to express ourselves and most of all, tell stories so these subtle nuances are conscious efforts from us to take our global releases back home. 

For anyone who intends to customise their sneakers, any tips to ensure they can accurately turn their vision into reality?

Practice . Fail . Learn . Repeat. Never leave your ideas in your head. 


Get your tickets to Culture Cartel here: https://culturecartel.com/