Opening The Kimono: An Interview with POW! WOW! Creator Jasper Wong
To fully grasp the beauty of our upcoming collaboration with POW! WOW! we wanted to explore the inspiration behind the release with the artist himself, Jasper Wong.
[ The POW! WOW! x Hyperfly collaboration will release on Thursday, April 30th. ]
Jasper is the mastermind behind POW! WOW!, an art festival that brings over a hundred international and local artists to create murals and other forms of art.
POW! WOW! is also a non-profit organization of contemporary artists committed to community enrichment through the creation of art outreach programs, educational programs and engaging the community in the creation and appreciation of art.
Jasper was kind enough to answer our questions while he's quarantined at home with his family in Hawaii.
HF: You’re an influential figure in the art industry, but for those who don’t know, can you tell us a little about what you’ve done and who you’ve worked with over the years?
JW: I don't like to consider myself to be influential. I'm just trying my best to do my part to support the arts and artists themselves. I feel it's important to create platforms and to constantly remind people of the importance of art and creativity in our lives.
I feel this is also what Hyperfly is doing by connecting art with jiu-jitsu. The brands that I have worked with over the years include Uniqlo, Bloomingdale's, Neiman Marcus, Marvel, Whole Foods, Puma, Microsoft, adidas, and more. I've been lucky to have been able to work with a variety of brands and meet many likeminded passionate individuals.
HF: What was your inspiration behind the POW!WOW! x Hyperfly gi?
JW: I don't practice Jiu Jitsu, unfortunately. But, I admire it as a form of martial art. It is beautiful in many ways and I can only imagine the amount of discipline and hard work it takes to perfect its many skills. I've trained in various forms of Kung Fu throughout my life so I find similar ground in that way.
My purpose in pursuing life as a martial artist mainly came from a desire to connect with my Chinese culture. I grew up on a steady supply of Kung Fu movies with Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, and Jet Li. These were the celebrities and heroes that looked like me in popular culture. Growing up in the 80s and 90s, the only other heroes were professional athletes and muscle bound action stars like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone. I didn't share any resemblance to them, but Kung Fu movies gave me a sense of pride for my own ethnicity. It was both inspiring and gave me a sense of identity.
The inspiration behind this particular design comes from my studies in Kung Fu, as well as the saying, "catch a tiger by the tail". That saying is about embarking on a course of action that is difficult, but can't be abandoned. I feel this is relevant to anyone pursuing their passions, whether it be in jiu-jitsu or being an artist. It's not easy, but it's worth the blood, sweat, and tears to commit to it.
HF: Can you tell us more about the Tiger and Cloud elements in the design, and what those mean in the gi and for you personally?
JW: The Tiger motif is paired with Japanese cloud patterns. It is a symbolic pairing used in Asian culture where the tiger represents a mastery of the Earth and the clouds (perceived as dragons) represents a mastery of the heavens. To me, it is about seeing the world in all perspectives and also about finding balance.
HF: Many practitioners love the creative side of the jiu-jitsu, where do you draw inspiration from to create?
JW: I'm surrounded by inspiration, whether it be in nature or via artists that I admire. I spend a lot of time looking. If your eyes are always open, then you'll also find something that will inspire you.
HF: Why do you think it’s important to create?
JW: I feel it's one of the most important ventures that you can pursue. The ability to create something from nothing and put it out in the world is exhilarating and deeply satisfying.
HF: How can we find out more about yourself and POW! WOW! ?
JW: The best way is to follow us on social media, visit our websites, or watch the videos that we have produced on YouTube and Vimeo. Here are some links: