Culture Cartel 2019 : The Afterstory

words by iqmall & belle

December came and that only meant one thing. Culture Cartel is here. For three days, we played home to everything street culture. Culture Cartel 2019 aimed to illuminate the best of all things street, and that’s exactly what we did. On 6-8 December 2019, three floors of the Singapore F1 Pit Building were turned into a cultural hub, showcasing the best of street fashion, music, art, and toys in Asia and more.

In our sophomore edition of the convention, we made it a mission to do things big. Bigger names, bigger spaces and bigger fun. And we did just that. We’ve taken over the third floor , increased the number of vendors and exhibitors, concluding us to a total of 18,000 participants throughout the event days. Here are the highlights of Culture Cartel 2019 to show you what was popping.

Channeling the infamous subway graffiti culture in New York City in the 80s, we set-up a 33-metre long mural wall for 16 artists from all over the world such as Doezny (KR), Ricardo Cavolo (ESP), Lady Pink (US), Jaba (COL) , Quiccs (PH) and so much more. And in ironic fashion, the train was modelled after the local subway train or the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) in Singapore as a node to the strict punishments laid out to previous attempts to paint the infamous train cart. It was our way of saying, “We made it legal now , so go crazy”

The first day began with a media preview where Jeremy Tan, the convention director, thanked the contributors and sponsors for their participation at the convention. Members of the media and VIPs were also introduced to the line-up of key highlights and participating artists, promising “there’s something for everyone” within the venue.

Remember when we said that we’re coming back bigger and better in 2019? We definitely upped our game, doubling down on our special exhibitions from last year. With the support of Mercedes-Benz, a particular highlight.

Featured along with the CLA Coupe, COARSE’s included their signature character, a life-size version Noop in their installation. COARSE made their display simple yet intriguing with a splash of pastel colours. Dubbed “Drifting Bliss”, this is to signify birth and rebirth: The idea that all incredible things start somewhere.

Ricardo Cavolo also illustrated a whole new character, named “Ghosty”, in his collaboration with the german powerhouse. He aimed to raise the awareness of mental health and remove the stigma of talking about the subject. Introducing Ghosty, she’s a brilliant, creative and caring person with a beautiful mind. She’s a teenager who has to fight against the ghosts and demons in her head. These beasts are becoming real, growing bigger with every fight. But she is full of determination. She is defeating all these bad guys while understanding they are also part of herself. With the use of striking colours, it was hard to miss this eye-catching illustration.

Working together with LA-based psychedelic-pop illustrator, Steven Harrington, DBS presented a quirky fun-filled space. This colourful paradise allowed attendees to chill and get away from the hecticness of the event. They were also offered exciting prizes with the claw machine, complimentary drinks, and gifts.

No stranger to Culture Cartel, Stash returned once again, this time bringing along his fellow spraycan-wielding comrade, Crash. As the two pioneer artists of the New York graffiti scene, they’ve merged their iconic styles to present a collaborative DW6900 watch with G-SHOCK. Exclusively launched at the event, a few lucky souls managed to walk away with a signed timepiece by the OG street artists.

In an unprecedented crossover of sneaker selling juggernauts, Limited Edt. and New York based, Stadium Goods, joined forces to create Southeast Asia’s largest exhibition of Air Jordans, dubbed the “Chronicles Of Flight”. Over 200 kicks were on display, ranging from models from 1985 all the way to the latest Travis Scott Jordan 1. And the best part? Everything was on sale. Truly, a sneakerhead’s wet dream.

We’ve decided to include something different in this year’s convention. Instead of just celebrating the new, we thought of staying with the classic and decided to collaborate with 5 Star Wars vintage collectors to get a blast from the past. The end result? A million-dollar exhibition. The collection included rare collectables and materials used in production (die cast moulds and proof cards), obtained over the years from all around the globe.

As with many other facets of Culture Cartel, we aim to educate and shed light on things that would otherwise never see the light of day. That saw the involvement of indie-urban labels from the region like Cosmonauts (ID), Fresh Cut (KR), Mutha Puaka (MY), Panic Pizza Club (KR) and RAW EMOTIONS (HK) coming as part of our differing contingents that each offered a genuine representation of their native street culture. Be it through selling apparel, art or stories, we’ll let them tell the story. Hear it from them.

But mixing things up is also on our agenda with well-loved brands such as Action City, OBEY Clothing, PUMA, Reebok, Braun Buffel, Hugo Boss, Mighty Jaxx and VANS having their own space to do what they do best. Known influencers like Mae Tan and Preetipls also had a part to play in this year’s edition of the convention with each of them helming a booth to spice up the marketplace. Mae is also donating all proceeds from that weekend back to charity. Kudos to her!

This year, we’ve introduced Masterclasses. A series of workshops and talks held by masters of their craft. Legendary shoe designer, Steven Smith, graced our event and blessed the wide-eyed audience with a session. As the current director of Yeezy, he’s the brain behind some of the world’s most iconic silhouettes; New Balance 1500 and Reebok InstaPump Fury. Presented by Reebok, He shared his creative and design processes, highs and lows of his career, providing a glimpse of what it’s like to walk in his shoes.

While some convention-goers were in awe at Steven Smith’s presentation, others chose to get their hands dirty with a private workshop session with beloved toy designer, Quiccs. Famed for his iconic character, “TEQ63”, Quiccs hosted a 90-min Masterclass where participants paint their own a 3-inch “MICROTEQ” figure. You don’t have to privy with the brush to be apart of the workshops. With the guys over at DPLMT_ coming in clutch, they hosted various workshops like the ‘Stencil Art Skate Deck’ workshop where participants were able to bring home their customised skate deck from a large variety of stencils designed by the local art collective.

Bridging the digital and real worlds, famous American YouTubers and street culture enthusiasts – The Fung Bros and Richie Le , flew down from the United States as special guests. They brought their special flair for crowdwork and hosted our live-streaming sessions titled ‘On-The-Mic’. They were roaming across the halls of Culture Cartel, bringing the convention’s experience to the screens of the masses in real time.

Singapore Community Radio — a platform that discusses music, lifestyle, and culture, partnered up with German fashion brand, HUGO to celebrate street culture alongside various DJs. With a DJ booth at the venue, DJ sets were broadcasted live from the Singapore F1 Pit Building to music enthusiasts who weren’t present at the event.

And on the first day of the convention, we finally debuted #CCSoundstage, a new pillar to our repertoire with two-time Grammy award-winning rap legend, Fatman Scoop and the newly formed Def Jam SEA family. They brought the house down with banger after banger until they combined for an unprecedented stage performance. We continued bringing out the musical heat with the help of MTV. Three of the hottest hip-hop artistes in the region; Airliftz, Yacko and Tuan Tigabelas were seen firing up the main stage as they dropped the beats of their most popular songs. And lastly, the Far East empress herself, Masia One closed out the festivities with a performance to remember.

Returning this year, we brought out the competitive side of tattoo artists in a tattoo competition that ran through on all three days. As part of the judging panel in this artistic show-down, we have Sasha Unisex, a Russian tattoo artist and Amsterdam-based blackwork maestro, Gakkin. Rounding off the star-studded roster are tattooing stalwarts Augustine Nezumi of Singapore Electric and Jaws from Johnny Two Thumbs. Tattooists spent hours painstakingly perfecting their pieces in hopes to come away from the convention with the ‘Best Of Show’ award, designed and created by Jeffrey Koh of Flabslab and Erikartoon.

Recognize! Studios also came through with “Conquer-It”, a dance-off for those who love to move to the groove. We reserved the last day of our convention for avid dancers of any age to showcase their rhythmic movement and flow in group or solo categories.