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Profiling | ZXEROKOOL

You might have seen his artwork on our Project Nippon bags. You might have seen his work for MTV, Tiger Beer, Feiyue, Nike or New Balance. You might know him better as Jonathan Leong. Heck, you might know him for a lot of other things because this guy is simply amazing.

Jonathan, otherwise known as ZXEROKOOL, is indeed, a man of mystery. His alter ego is a katana wielding Bruce-Lee-lookalike with beany looking eyes. To say that he is an quirky, creative genius would be a severe understatement. Described as “a practitioner of visual kung-fu and creative mayhem”, his work covers a broad range of mediums from drawings to videos, paintings to sculptures, and more. And this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Being the jealous, uncreative group of individuals that we are, ActuallyMAG looks up the enigmatic ZXEROKOOL, and we discuss topics from his inspirations to even his secret love.

A day in your life, what occurs?

Jonathan: Normal day: Work. Work. Work. Work. Movie. Work. Eat. Work. Sleep.
Abnormal day: Sleep. Sleep. Sleep. Sleep. Sleep. Movie. Read a comic. Movie. Go out with friends. Eat. Sleep.

Describe your humble abode.

J: It can be anywhere, and it can be nowhere. These days it’s mostly on the internet, I live on it through my phone. That’s both the beauty and bane of modern digitalism. You can be everywhere, but you can be nowhere at the same time.

What do you do in your free time?

J: I’m a huge movie buff. However, these days I’m falling back on my movie watching, because I’ve been pretty busy with some new stuff that I’ve been preparing in my cave. That, and carrying out the precarious act of balancing multiple projects and responsibilities.

ZXEROKOOL's artwork for our Project Nippon bags

Where are some cool haunts in Singapore?

J: From time to time, I like to go to Henderson Waves [it is the highest pedestrian bridge in Singapore]. It’s a really excellent spot to just relax and reflect on the things I’m doing now and what I plan to do, as well as to unwind mentally from the madness of modern living.

Reveal something about yourself that no one knows.

J: I love Lego. One of my dreams is to build a huge fantasy space ship installation made of Lego bricks….

How do you define yourself as an artist?

J: Usually I try not to offer any definitions or explanations because I don’t want to set up certain expectations with regard to my work. But, my usual response would be that I engage in what I call “visual KungFu and creative mayhem”.

What inspires your works?

J: My works are usually a mash up of pop culture imagery and other non-artsy-academic subject matters; like robots, zombie movies, and ninjas. Because ninjas are awesome. There’s nothing deep about my work. I get ideas that strike me at any given time, and sometimes I just feel exceptionally compelled to start and finish a piece till it’s done. All I’m hoping to achieve is to have fun with the subject matter.

How much time do you spend indulging in creative work?

J: It varies greatly depending on the situation, but as much as possible.

Which of your art pieces is your favorite? Why?

J: That would be “Dolphin’s Revenge”, because of the sheer absurdity of the piece. It remains a blockbuster with audiences from all walks of life. People just love that one, as well as the other pieces of my fake comic book cover art series, which will be part of a group exhibition entitled “Age of uncertainly” at the Chan Hampe Gallery, @ 21 Tanjong Pagar Road, #04-02, Opening Night – 10 June 2011, 7pm.

ZXEROKOOL's Dolphin's Revenge. God save us all.

Is there a designer/artist you relate to?

J: Syd Mead, Frank Frazetta, Andy Warhol, and many, many more.

What’s the best and worst thing about being an artist?

J: Best thing: You get to bring ideas to life in a tangible form; sometimes it works well, sometimes it doesn’t. There is always something new to try out.

Worse thing: When you think of an idea, and then realizing that it will be extremely costly to execute. Severe lack of sleep follows, as you will have to be working projects to bring in the funding for your personal work.

Usually that means a lot of sacrifice; but that’s usually the test of whether you are ready to make a project ‘happen’, or not. I don’t necessarily think it’s a negative situation, as it makes you think carefully on how you want to allocate time and resources… such as, “do I really need that stainless steel frame for my work”, “can I be more creative with my use of color so that I don’t burn a whole lot of cash on expensive paints”, etc. It’s a creative process of problem solving really.

– Toke

View Jonathan Leong a.k.a. ZXEROKOOL’s work @ http://www.zxerokool.com/

View Jonathan Leong a.k.a. ZXEROKOOL’s creative side projects @ http://www.jonathanleongart.com/

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