HK Magazine: How did Gala­man

HK Magazine - - UPFRONT -

come about? Johnee Lau:

Su­per­heroes have one thing in com­mon: When they’re fight­ing their neme­ses or when they’re trans­form­ing, they al­ways show their armpits. Su­per­man flashes his armpits at pedes­tri­ans when he’s fly­ing; Spiderman does the same when swings from build­ing to build­ing. Even in Sailor Moon— the Sailor Sol­diers show their armpits when they lift their arms to get dressed in their su­per­hero cos­tumes. That’s how I came to the con­clu­sion that the armpit is an im­por­tant su­per­hero fea­ture. So, for my fi­nal year project at PolyU, I cre­ated the char­ac­ter Ah Man, who turns into the su­per­hero Gala­man when he flashes his armpit. What else in­spires you, be­sides armpits?

We tend to avoid talk­ing about “em­bar­rass­ing” body parts like armpits and nos­trils. For some rea­son, we give them neg­a­tive con­no­ta­tions and con­sider them some­thing to be ashamed of. In my work I try to re­de­fine bi­o­log­i­cal fea­tures and func­tions that are gen­er­ally con­sid­ered em­bar­rass­ing, as well as taboo sub­jects such as trans­gen­derism, so my au­di­ence can see these things in a dif­fer­ent light. For ex­am­ple in­de­cent pos­tures, adult jokes and nude scenes are things that make us laugh—you wouldn’t say they’re neg­a­tive. And what makes both adults and chil­dren laugh?

Toi­let hu­mor. Of course, I still cre­ate car­toons that are tra­di­tion­ally con­sid­ered “cute.” My work isn’t toi­let hu­mor. What do you en­joy do­ing most?

I love cre­at­ing an­i­ma­tions. The process can be tor­tur­ous and time-con­sum­ing, but the sense of ac­com­plish­ment is ir­re­place­able, es­pe­cially when I look back at what I’ve cre­ated from a blank space: A whole new world where char­ac­ters come alive. But most of all, I en­joy draw­ing. Eight years ago at a hand­i­crafts mar­ket, I started in­cor­po­rat­ing word­play into my draw­ings. Peo­ple would come to me with top­ics and I would draw based on those top­ics. My cus­tomers paid what­ever they thought was an ap­pro­pri­ate price. I later be­gan broad­cast­ing my draw­ings live on the In­ter­net be­cause it’s a good way to gain pop­u­lar­ity and be able to see my au­di­ence’s im­me­di­ate re­ac­tion. When I draw, I zone out and draw what­ever comes to mind. I don’t think at all. What do you think has been your big­gest chal­lenge so far?

While I con­sider my­self an artist, I also have to deal with ad­min­is­tra­tive work and com­mer­cial con­sid­er­a­tions. Very of­ten, I have to come up with busi­ness pro­pos­als for col­lab­o­ra­tions and think about how to pro­mote my work to reach a big­ger au­di­ence: This can some­times dis­tract me from cre­at­ing new work. Fam­ily sup­port used to be an is­sue. My par­ents wanted me to get a sta­ble job af­ter grad­u­at­ing be­cause it seemed like the best way for­ward, but they fi­nally de­cided to give me a year to try my hand at a ca­reer based on il­lus­tra­tion and an­i­ma­tion. I ended up win­ning sev­eral an­i­ma­tion awards. With­out my fam­ily, I wouldn’t have been able to make it this far. What hap­pens if you run out of ideas? Will you stop draw­ing?

As long as you have cre­ativ­ity and pas­sion, you can al­ways work in dif­fer­ent fields. I don’t think I’ll ever quit, but I might spend more time col­lab­o­rat­ing with other peo­ple. I’ll turn 28 soon, and I’ve been told that we lose our cre­ativ­ity when we turn 30: So I’ve been sav­ing weird and funny ideas in sketch­books since an early age in case the same thing hap­pens to me. I’ll keep ac­cu­mu­lat­ing sketch­books un­til I run out of ideas—but by then, I think my bank of ideas will last me a life­time. I could also be­come a singer, though, just in case. Check out Johnee’s an­i­ma­tions at youtube. com/user/min­i­mind­stu­dio or feed him il­lus­tra­tion ideas dur­ing his nightly live broad­casts at facebook.com/gala­manhk

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