Natalie Wong is a multi-disciplined designer that offers innovative ideas and artwork that engages global audiences. Her work has appeared in several international publications including GQ, ESQUIRE, HYPEBEAST, Highsnobiety, Marie Claire, Elle and Lifestyle Asia.
What’s your story?
I am a mixed-media artist and a fashion buyer based in Hong Kong. Originally from London, I moved to Asia in 2012. I left my corporate job to pursue being a full-time creative in March 2017. I am known for my project ‘100 Paper Sneakers’ that went viral in June 2016. I was interviewed and my artwork features in the 2018 documentary – ‘Unbanned: The Legend of AJ1’. The documentary features global icons such as Spike Lee, Tinker Hatfield, Michael B Jordan, DJ Khaled, Mark Wahlberg and Michael Jordan. The documentary premiered at the 2018 Tribeca Film festival in New York. In 2017, I was commissioned by NIKE to create a sculpture to celebrate LeBron James’ tour of Asia. I recently collaborated with VICTORIA’S SECRET to create an art installation to celebrate the opening of their new flagship store in Hong Kong. I was a fashion buyer for the female leads of the 2018 Warner Brothers movie – “Crazy Rich Asians”. This is the first Hollywood movie that features an all-Asian lead cast in 25 years.
In 2018, I held my first solo exhibition of my artwork ‘Neon Rap Portraits’ at the HIVE SPRING gallery in Hong Kong.
My work has appeared in several international publications including GQ, ESQUIRE, HYPEBEAST, Highsnobiety, Marie Claire, Elle and Lifestyle Asia.
What excites you most about your industry?
The feeling that I’m doing something I’m passionate about and the opportunity to be creative. Especially for my own fine art, I get excited knowing that I’m making statements that represent my philosophy in a visual medium.
What’s your connection to Asia?
Both my parents are from Asia and it’s definitely a culture and a place I identify with.
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Hong Kong for branded and commercial art. There’s a big appetite by a lot of international brands to use Hong Kong as a place to release products, create hype and test waters before heading into China. Hong Kong is very efficient, people work very hard and things get done very quickly.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Trust your instincts and don’t be bullied into settling for less money or no money for ‘exposure’. Exposure does not pay bills.
Who inspires you?
Maya Angelou – a highly intelligent, creative and charismatic woman who had real conviction and courage about what she believed in. Fearless. Badass with a wicked sense of humour.
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
That as of 1 September 2018, Crazy Rich Asians (the movie I did the fashion buying for) has exceeded all expectations and grossed a total of USD 101.9m at the box office. It has become the most successful romantic comedy in years.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
There was this one unpleasant and unprofessional incident that happened not long after I started my career as a full-time creative. I made a decision not to go a meeting with some of the global senior management fearing that I would lose the relationship with the local team. There were some internal politics involved that I was not aware of. I wished I had just gone to the meeting and not be intimidated by unprofessional threats made by the individual.
How do you unwind?
Cooking. I absolutely love making something delicious and hearty. Usually something Vietnamese. I make a mean lemongrass chicken.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Kyoto – there is so much well-preserved history and culture to explore. From temple architecture to the offerings at the major museums and art galleries. I’m always so inspired and absorbed every time I go. Also the Kaiseki there is amazing.
Everyone in business should read this book:
Big Magic – Elizabeth Gilbert
Shameless plug for your business:
I am a multi-disciplined creative that offers innovative ideas and artwork that engages global audiences. Digital-centric millennials are my speciality. I have worked with major international brands including: Nike, Jordan Brand, Monster Energy Drink, Warner Brothers and Victoria’ Secret. I believe in creating genuine and authentic visual ideas that tell an authentic story. My secret skill is to present artistic content within a tailored marketing strategy.
I don’t really use Twitter. You can follow me on Instagram (@papersneaker).
This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connect’ series of more than 500 interviews
Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started,
built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder of The Marketing Group PLC. He is the author two best selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’ and ‘Agglomerate’.