Today we (ALLBOYSCLUB) will be talking to Felix Ng, art director and founder of design by silnt and Anonymous about who he is, what he does, what he thinks and what he will be doing.
ALLBOYSCLUB: Hello Felix, how was last night?
Felix: Terrible. I slept at 4am.
ALLBOYSCLUB: Do you think that might have created an impact on what you do today?
Felix: Yeah, it did. I like working in the morning. Really early, like 5am. I get most of my work done between 5 – 11am, and I spend the rest of the day on our projects under Anonymous. so sleeping late the night before means I wake up later the next day, which kinda pushes the entire day’s schedule back.
ALLBOYSCLUB: Now tell us. Who are you?
Felix: I’m just like any average person you would see on the streets. I’m 28 years old, 1.8m tall, weigh about 70 kilos and long-sighted. I wanted to be a writer (journalist specifically) when i was younger, but accidentally stumbled into a career in design.
Felix: It’s a long story.
Gist of it > kicked out of school, got called back into school, school gave me design work to do so I would stop working while studying, didn’t know anything about design but had to learn, graduated, got a commission to design a music video, had to register a business account in order to get paid, fortunately got more work after that project, and it’s been 6 years.
ALLBOYSCLUB: How do you think it will be like if you have done the total opposite of what you are doing today?
Felix: It would have been great. I’d probably have completed much more if I had slept earlier and woke earlier.
ALLBOYSCLUB: Isn’t that what most working in the creative industry experience? Never having enough time for anything.
Felix: I think it applies with any occupation, that time is a luxury. Possibly more so, in our industry, because what we do is extremely emotional and psychological. when we have an idea, and we put ourselves into developing it (for eg: writing a novel). we are in a big way, putting ourselves out there for an audience to judge us. So we are willing to spend more time and effort into it.
ALLBOYSCLUB: Does Time play a big role when it comes to how a project is executed?
Felix: Yes. too much or too little time is equally bad.
ALLBOYSCLUB: What is Time to you?
Felix: A horizontal line between A and Z. (A being birth, Z being death)
ALLBOYSCLUB: What do you think will happen if you take Time away from being one of the factor in the process of a project?
Felix: Nothing would happen.
ALLBOYSCLUB: By “nothing would happen.” Are you referring to the disruption of the project, or the entire project even happening at all?
Felix: Imagine a project without restrictions, a blank cheque and no deadline. It sounds like something most of us would be excited about, but i think ideas happen only when there are boundaries. Without a deadline, there isn’t a motivation to develop a schedule of what when has to be completed – in order to finish the project.
ALLBOYSCLUB: Do you think Time is a factor controlled by an individual/group engaging in a certain activity or the activity engaging a certain individual/group?
Felix: Yes. In the case of a commercial transaction – the client or customer. In self-initiated projects, the deadline is set by yourself.
ALLBOYSCLUB: If there is a period in our timeline that you can transport to the present, what would it be?
Felix: The 1960 – 70s. A time when people took things seriously. They got high seriously, dressed seriously, danced seriously, made music, designed, created art, took friends seriously. (and on and on and on…) Most importantly, things were done well because people gave a shit.
ALLBOYSCLUB: How did you think the process of cultural evolution moved from then till now?
Felix: Technology. It made things faster. Gaining information, corresponding with one another, spread news, etc. What happened was we begin to expect things to be faster, and at little or no cost.
ALLBOYSCLUB: Taking Objects/Information for granted?
ALLBOYSCLUB: More = less? The diluting of The Order of Things with the progressive introduction of new Objects/Information?
Felix: Actually more is still more. Instead of more, we should focus on better. Why make another t-shirt, tote bag, magazine, blog, artwork, etc if it’s not going to be better than something that is already existing. 90% of new things created are made with the intent of ‘having a voice’. Creation is a step up from consumption, but creation for the sake of having a voice is a poor excuse.
ALLBOYSCLUB: Ok, More things made = Less meaning = More junks. Hahahaha! Isn’t that what people in the 1960s – 70s are doing? Having a voice? Trying to push and have an extension of their ego on the society then?
Felix: Yes, but the accumulation of that means we’ve produced more than we can consume, or even need to consume.
ALLBOYSCLUB: Technological advancement really changes the way we make things. It is faster and more cost efficient. But aren’t we supposed to embrace it and work within our-self to not take it for granted? From earlier, you mention Anonymous. What exactly is Anonymous about?
Felix: Anonymous makes things for people who make things. We focus on creating content for the creative industry.
ALLBOYSCLUB: What are some of these ‘things’ Anonymous been making?
Felix: A Design Film Festival 2010, which launched in Singapore and Berlin. We’ll be traveling it to kaohsiung, taipei, bangkok this year and the newly appointed world design capital, helsinki in 2011. http://www.designfilmfestival.com
Help Save Paper for Antalis paper, which gathered 12 individuals to create objects out of paper. http://lets.helpsavepaper.com
Dual City Sessions (2007 – 2009)
Collaboration between Singapore and Japan, that has featured over 50 designers and artists. The exhibitions has travelled to Berlin, Shanghai, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. http://www.dualcitysessions.com (site update soon)
ALLBOYSCLUB: Tell us about this latest project ‘Crafty’ born from Anonymous. How and why did you give life to ‘Crafty’.
Felix: After 6 years as a designer, I found myself in a situation where we were constantly making more, instead of making better things. This frustration led us to think about what exactly happened and how we might be able to play a part in changing it. In a place, where the costs of doing things become higher and higher, but the value of what we do gets lower. We have to do more just to make the same. (but not necessarily better) When we do more, we spread ourselves thinner and thinner. And the truth is, we begin to cave in. We stop fighting to do great work, because we have to spend more time, effort and energy to convince our clients (and ourselves) that this is something worth striving for.
ALLBOYSCLUB: That sounds like the natural progression for most creative agencies as far as we know. (Laugh)
Felix: It is and I am guilty of it too. In 2009, we had the most financially successful year we started. We got several accounts that were quite profitable but it was also the unhappiest year we had. So this year, we’ve been trying very hard to not go down that road again.
ALLBOYSCLUB: Have you had any experience with a creative agency that was able to strike a balance and hold on to that integrity?
Felix: Too many to name.
ALLBOYSCLUB: So where does Crafty fit into all these?
Felix: Crafty isn’t a celebration of creativity. It’s about making things well.
ALLBOYSCLUB: Are we gonna get our hands dirty at Crafty? What can we expect to see?
Felix: I have no idea! (laughs) We’ll see.
ALLBOYSCLUB: How about locally in Singapore? Do you see anyone pushing for making better rather than making more?
Felix: Yes. The 14 speakers for the conference. There are another 20 individuals who we hope will be interested in what we’re doing with Crafty. Hopefully we’ll get to see them in the following editions.
ALLBOYSCLUB: Sounds exciting. We wonder who will make the list. Is there anything else you want to say to the people who are coming and the people who are not coming?
Felix: To those coming: Thank you for the support!
To those not coming this year: We’ll just have to work harder to convince you for future editions.
ALLBOYSCLUB: Thanks Felix.
Felix: Thanks guys.
– Brought to you by AllBoysClub