Featuring our first design (not the last) who didn’t make it into the book, we were intrigued by the story of a new brand, Gweilo, who are launching into the UK as we write. They commissioned Hong Kong-based Szabotage (Gustav Szabo), whose reputation as a street artist has seen him work alongside global brands as well as branch out to giving TED talks and holding sold-out exhibitions of his art. Obviously, we wanted to know more…
So what’s your design background? “I grew up in Brighton and Hove, and moved to London to study architecture. I then went on to work as a designer, with great names such as Philippe Starck and Steve Leung. Whilst in the UK I had a few shows and some success as an artist but it wasn’t until I moved to Hong Kong in 2013 that I was able to become really involved with the art scene.
I’m now a full time artist and have exhibited internationally, with sold out exhibitions, solo shows, and numerous collaborative projects, private and commercial commissions, including Louis Vuitton, Prada, Ritz Carlton, Jaeger Lecoultre and Evisu.
What are your influences as an artist / designer? “Although I’m born and bred in the UK, Hong Kong has been my home for the past few years, and I’m greatly influenced by the city and its culture. The artistic heritage of Hong Kong is everywhere and bears its own traditions, intersection and contradictions. The blending of Chinese and Western cultures – forming the city’s unique diverse temperament and cultural landscape – has formed and heavily influenced my art. My work has absorbed local and international complexities and the various dualities influences my art whiles retaining its own edge.
I gather visual references, sketch and recreate something that is typically ‘Hong Kong’ and turn them into stencils. These icons are then spray painted in layers which creates a story or journey for the viewer.”
Tell us about your work with Gweilo. “The project was all about telling the Gweilo story, which actually shared a lot of similairties to my own journey in Hong Kong. I related to their historic moments and really enjoyed the imagery that it conjured up. I used my style of layering over 50 intricate hand cut stencils to create the final artwork over three canvases.
Another great thing that came out of the whole project was becoming mates, we share a lot of passions including all being total car nuts (see picture of my Renault Clio V6 below). There was a lot time spent together and it was a collaboration, working together and having some great banter.
Apart from your own, which is your favourite beer design and why? “Craft beer seems to have brought out unique and bold artistic design – there are some amazing ones out there. I really like the Broaden & Build Jaunty Amarillo IPA which has a street art graffiti text in old Skool style.
When you knock off on a Friday (or whenever), what’s your go to beer? “Would it be too obvious to say Gweilo? I love their Session IPA – open a couple of those and boom it’s the weekend!”
What’s your favourite bar? “I’m always drawn to a bar with a great view. New York is amazing for their rooftop bars – the Hudson Bar at the Hudson Hotel was very memorable . The Groucho Bar in London or Soho House in Berlin are also top of the list. I do miss a good British pub for a Sunday roast, pint and a log fire. Here in Hong Kong I love hanging in Wagyu on Wyndham street, Central. It was a great after work spot that spilled out onto the street.”
Favourite bar snack? “You can’t go wrong with fries or some cheese and onion crisps.”
Are you reading / watching anything interesting? “When I have time to watch anything it’s usually car vloggers or parkour videos on YouTube.”
What are you looking forward to in 2021? “I’m really looking forward to the return of spontaneity. Hopefully we get to see family and friends in the UK that we’ve been apart from for far too long due to the pandemic.”
Cats or dogs? “Cats. As for dogs? Well I have two small kids and that’s hard enough.”
Cheers to that!
Szabotage can be found at: