Amber Park introduces us into the magical world of PLAY! POP! GO! - an exciting brand that is truly ahead of its time. Its combination of physical apparel and digital collectibles is a unique concept that caters to the growing prominence of digital creators and Web3 in the fashion industry.
Amber Park is a Korean-American multi-hyphenate artist and director based in Los Angeles, collaborating with renowned industry leaders such as Katy Perry, Camila Cabello, Chloe & Halle, Madison Beer, Sabrina Carpenter, Lil Yachty, and Ty Dolla $ign, among others. Amber Park's diverse background and artistic abilities make her the perfect founder for such an innovative brand. Her experience in graphic design, CG and illustration, creative direction, multimedia projects, branded content, music videos, and visual art showcases her versatility and visionary approach.
The collection offered by PLAY! POP! GO! is described as "polysexual," bringing a sense of inclusivity and diversity to the fashion world. The luxurious streetwear-inspired apparel, featuring puzzle imagery on Leather Puzzle Patch Trousers and futuristic graphics on t-shirts, adds a touch of artistic flair. The introduction of leather plush toys with a digital counterpart adds an interactive element to the collection. By providing users with a digital version of each item, PLAY! POP! GO! allows them to unlock additional experiences and engage with the brand in a gamified way.
Overall, PLAY! POP! GO! represents the future of fashion, where physical and digital worlds merge to create a unique and immersive retail experience. It will be exciting to see how the brand evolves and resonates with the next generation of creators.
Hello Amber, welcome to RED EYE, how has your cultural background + childhood had an impact on the creative that you are today?
Most of my life as a kid, I always felt like an outsider. I never fit into a box. I wasn't American enough. I wasn’t Korean enough. I grew up in a predominantly white neighborhood and went to a very white American private school. My parents immigrated to the States at young ages and I was raised with the immigrant’s American dream mentality but with extremely conservative Korean Christian values and upbringing. My grandmother was a huge influence in my childhood and raised me most of my young ears, and she didn’t speak a word of English. When I was at school, I didn’t fit in. When I went to church, I didn’t fit in. I was also quite shy and very quiet. I didn’t know how to express myself. I was a weirdo and a dork. Ultimately, experiencing life this way led me to creative pursuits. To escape. To express. I used to build my own worlds and dream up my own fantasies. I would get lost in books and movies and dream about escaping into those stories to escape my own reality. Looking back as an adult, I fully see how art was my healing, my freedom and a way for me to find my voice and find my own way. It is crazy to think how subconsciously the things you do as a child become integral parts of how your mind works and become ingrained into the inner-working depths of your spirit. A lot of the practices of expression I gravitated towards to find a sense of belonging as a kid are fundamental pieces of my process as a creative today. The joy, bliss and comfort that I found as a kid in fantasy-driven visual storytelling are the key feelings that I seek to evoke and provide for people experiencing my work today. I want to give that same sense of imagination to people through the art and stories I tell.
How old were you when you created your first graphic design project?
I remember fondly and vividly, my dad had this extremely old Apple iMac that he used for work. I remember being about 5 or 6 years old. He downloaded Kid Pix and would let me play around on it on the weekends. That was the first “graphic design” project. I used to be glued to that screen for hours being complete;y mesmerized by the computer graphics and colors and the experience of being able to create whatever I wanted.
How challenging was the start for you and how did you overcome challenges at the start? Looking back to that moment, what advice would you give to yourself now?
I never thought my creativity would materialize into a career. As a kid, I had no idea the creative industry existed. Growing up, I really only saw a few options for work – the very stereotypical Asian immigrant story – you were either a lawyer, doctor or an accountant. I wasn’t the best at math or science, but I loved to write and to read, so naturally it became my mom’s dream and mission for me to become a lawyer. My career as an artist was purely an accident. It all started with posting fan art on Instagram. Posting on Instagram was my outlet to express and to share how I felt. One thing led to another and it took me to this whole new world of arts and culture, and learning there were people out there who also were creators, who were the masterminds behind my favorite things that I loved as a kid. There were directors and writers and illustrators who made my favorite animes, set designers who designed my favorite shows, fashion designers behind my favorite brands and sneakers, directors who directed my favorite music videos. I think there was definitely an awkwardness when I first started my career. I had no idea what I was doing. I never created an invoice before, I never had a formal job and I had no concept of what the “industry” was or how to navigate it. It was a lot of trial and error and hard learning lessons, but I have been super fortunate to have such supportive people who have guided me along the way and believed in my creativity - as well as incredible artists who gave me the opportunity to work with them on massive scales. Looking back, some things I wish I were told are to unapologetically be yourself and respect your boundaries. Be confident in exercising your NO, respect yourself and the work you do. Don’t create for love. Create from a place of love.
What is your education background in terms of graphic design?
I’m fully self-taught. It’s kind of funny to think how I don’t have any formal art education besides reading and being a nerd watching Youtube tutorials. But I think that’s the power of technology and access to education. You have this resource of endless information at your fingertips and with the right intention, you can teach yourself just about anything. The sayings practice makes perfect and idea of allowing your intuition and honest expression to guide the way in my opinion are the best way to create. Creativity is an extension of our mind and our spirit. There should be no formalities and rules, it can happen instinctually. Creating is therapeutic and also an exercise of expression.
PLAYWEAR is a gamified approach to shopping and self-expression.Why is it very important for our future? How does PLAY! POP! GO! serve as an educational platform?
With PLAYWEAR we reimagined how consumers can interact with fashion, allowing people to express themselves physically and virtually via digital twin items that come with each piece of clothing, and based off of purchases, have digital and physical experiences that fuel one another. Our lives are becoming increasingly digital, and humans have a deep innate desire to express themselves and connect. We wanted to provide an accessible, fun, and cute way to do that.
We have some announcements with partners coming soon. But generally speaking, through much of the content that rolls out moving forward and IRL events we are making it a point to demystify the brand building process and blockchain/emerging technology space as a whole. We view our community as our team and want to offer them as much insight, as many tools and blueprints as possible. We do have some announcements on educational initiatives we are working on coming soon.
What are some of the biggest challenges, in your opinion, that digital creatives will be facing as we transition to Web3?
Diversity. Inclusivity. Freedom of speech. Ownership. Intention. Integrity.
I think as creatives and even humans we are so consumed by the and future of tech instant gratification and “success” we have the potential to experience, that I think we lose sight of the purpose and gift of creativity. We can’t lose sight of what makes us human and why we even create to begin with. We all have an innate desire to express, to be seen and to be heard. We can’t forget the human side of art and storytelling – the emotion, the senses, and the ability to connect with others. For digital creators especially it is easy to be consumed in how fast technology is moving forward and the pressures of monetization in the Web3 space, but I think it’s very important now more than ever that we are prioritizing human utility – emotion, expression and freedom – in the work we are creating as well as the conversations we have. I think also there’s a huge disconnect with social diversity and inclusivity in the Web3 space. For a forward thinking industry and new space, there is a major discrepancy when it comes to voices that are represented and promoted. Lastly, I also think how we are presenting work to mass audiences and making the technology and applications themselves more user friendly are necessary to move us forward - showcasing that digital art are gamified experiences that can enhance not replace physical art and experiences; similar to how our digital realities interact with physical/in person experiences which at this point we’ve grown accustomed to with social media, streaming content, etc.
What are your favorite softwares and what do you do to improve your skills?
Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator are the OG classics. Procreate and Autodesk 3D Max. I am always trying to constantly learn new things, but sometimes the best “software” and medium is still pencil and paper. Nothing beats that tangible physical touch and texture and free-flow of ideation.
How has your vision developed over time as a creative? What significant discoveries have you made about yourself?
I think there was a moment that I became so hyper-focused on telling other people’s stories and trying to fit into a mold of doing work that I thought people wanted to see from me or being consumed by other’s opinions and what seemed “culturally relevant or trendy,” but over the last 2 years, I have become much more grounded in who I am, the person I want to become and the purpose of what it means to me to be a creative. I want to unapologetically be me. I don’t care anymore about fitting into a box. I love being out of the box, coloring outside the lines and truly realizing my life purpose of bringing joy to others and connecting with people through my art and storytelling. Whether to the smallest degrees or on the largest scale, I want to create things that make people smile, that make people feel love and a sense of belonging and freedom to use their own imagination. As a creative, this next chapter is truly about letting my imagination run wild, dreaming in color, making the world my playground.
Inside a fast society today, how important is it for a creative to build a strong visual + cultural identity?
I think identity is always going to change and be fluid in connection with your own personal growth. I do think it’s important to be centered in who you are and know yourself. Be unapologetic in regards to your vision and focus on how you are expressing yourself and your own story. I think our society primarily celebrates symbols of “success” and “fame” and the attention span is so short. We are always over-saturated and inundated with information and content. However, I think that’s why it’s so important to truly express from your subconscious and not be caught up with the outside or the opinions of others. As a creative, your medium is your extension and should be representative of your own truth, how you are feeling, what you want to say. Be you. Take that leap of faith and just go. There is no right or wrong way to start. Keep dreaming with your eyes wide open. Your voice may change as you grow. I think as humans not just creatives, we always need to constantly be pushing ourselves to grow and expand our perspectives to always be the best versions of ourselves. This can only truly happen when you truly feel love. This love doesn’t come from acceptance of others, society, the likes you get on a post, the money you make – that sense of belonging and loving yourself. Love everything about your mind, your spirit, your body and your individuality. When you truly love you, you give yourself the space to feel and to express.
A letter to your future self, what would you write?
Do things from a place of love, not for love.
Be kind to yourself.
Being yourself is your greatest superpower.
Take a leap of faith, and dream.
Interview by Mira Wanderlust
Image Courtesy PLAY!POP!GO Press Office