Essentials: Michael Lau

During our recent visit to Michael Lau’s studio ahead of his “MAXX HEADROOM” exhibition at WOAW Gallery, we were given an exclusive look at the artist’s treasured items and everyday staples.

Referred to as the “Godfather of Designer Toys,” Lau first arrived on the scene as a creator of urban vinyl toys with his widely known “Gardener” collection comprising of 99 action figures wearing unique streetwear outfits inspired by the rise of skateboard and hip-hop culture at the time. The artist has now pivoted to canvas paintings to accompany his sculptures which bearing a similar street culture-inspired aesthetic.

Lau’s debut series and following works, created with the belief that “all toys are works of art, and all works of art are toys,” pioneered a newfound understanding of the intersection between toys, pop culture, and art, paving new avenues for large toy companies and independent artists.

Almost a decade after our first Essentials interview with Lau, we’re given an updated view of his studio must-haves. Scroll down below as we explore the artist’s picks.

What are the most important tools in your studio?

Reading glasses. These have a chain that I DIY-ed onto them. The chain is just extra links from my “Gardener” figurines. I also require face masks, lip balm that smells good and keeps you awake, wipes, pencils, sketchbooks, and sunglasses.

What are your go-to studio sneakers?

Any white low-top sneakers. My current favorite is either from Puma or from Hoka One One.

What do you listen to while painting?

Music from every genre. YouTube Music streaming is my current favorite and I get some inspiration from sounds and music videos. For Rock/Metal, I love listening to Guns N’ Rose. I also like Gorillaz and Radiohead. Sia and Billie Eilish are quite cool too and I like their aesthetic. Classical music, Japanese music, and jazz are in my rotation as well.

What are your favorite timepieces so far?

Rolex. It’s easy to wear and has this manly feeling about it. I’ve been wearing this AP that I got at an auction. It wasn’t too pricey.

It’s been a while since we last photographed your Essentials — last time it was during your “I LOVE ZEX” show — how have your Essentials changed?

Not much has changed. I like being simple and casual, nothing extra that would require me to carry a bag. I would find it annoying. Life is already troublesome enough without having to carry stuff around.

What are your go-to clothing brands?

UNIQLO. It’s simple with decent quality. My go-to style is more casual and plain now.

Have you started any new hobbies since your last Essentials?

Boxing. I’ve been practicing for 5 years. My favorite sport has always been football, and now I want to train my upper body more. I wanted to release a 12-inch “Absolute Boxing” figure before but my other works got in the way.

Have a look at Michael Lau’s product spread above, and stay tuned for more Essentials pieces in the coming weeks.

For last week’s Essentials series, we interviewed Sporty & Rich founder Emily Oberg.
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