Shei Phan and AKINGSNY re think the tote bag
3 min read
With so many brands doing their spin on the classic tote bag, how did you approach this everyday item for this collaboration?
Most tote bags are seen as simple bags to just throw your extra crap in, but working with Alan King and what his brand represents shows a much different view on what the task of a tote bag can be. I want to represent his brand and mine as well so I combined his slogan “Be A King” with my signature King Panda. The panda represents strength and unity while tapping into the King that we all desire to be. Being a King comes with Royalty, and Royalty comes with Quality. That’s what Alan brings to the table, so working with great quality denim was the perfect canvas for the panda illustration.
Being a multi-faceted artist, do you approach the concept of design the same way you would another medium of art? What are the differences and similarities in the process for you?
I don’t have a background in design, so I approach it as if I was creating a painting or sculpture. Working first with preliminary sketches then I go straight to the fabric as if it was the canvas. I measure out how the image will work with the tote bag’s structure or any cut’s structure, as well as finding the right placement. I feed off of the brand to inspire me to create something unique but also fitting in with what they represent. When it comes to design and to collaborate with a brand, it’s of course based off combining both our ideas and making sure the message is delivered. When working solo on my paintings or sculptures I don’t necessarily know where it piece will go, I allow my inner artist to take over. I write the story once I’m finished.
Having such a strong brand image, how do you decide on who to collaborate with?
To me, it’s about collaborating with dope creatives and brands that have a message.
Is your inspiration the same between the different mediums of art or do you find inspiration in different things for design then you would for creative direction?
I think with every piece I do, inspiration comes from different places. I allow myself to be clear of thoughts and only live in that moment to create something new that is inspired by my surroundings or experiences.
You have a strong following and influence with your followers. Are there any artist movements that inspire/ motivate you with your own movement?
There are so many amazing movements that inspire me. I recently worked with Project Mermaids, which is a movement geared toward saving the ocean ecosystem. Arsenic is a creative movement which highlights the beauty of the nude form. I believe that being in the nude is the purest form of one’s self. To truly understand anything you much understand yourself first. And most recently I have joined One Tribe NYC, a movement that brings the next generation of creative together to help positively change the world through fashion, music, art, film, and food.