Eric So is having his breakfast in a dai pai dong whilst the other patrons in the restaurant are having their afternoon tea. It is 3:30pm in the afternoon, the first warmer days of the approaching spring is near. I sit with him, drinking my iced lemon tea, looking on, as his calm and collected manner reflects much of his persona.
Between petite mouthfuls of Chinese noodles, he explains his career as a concept visualiser/art director, in the advertising agency, how it was all a daily predictable grind. With the advent of computers and the cut in illustration fees, Eric decided to get out of the fast paced life of ad culture to something more daring and less predictable. His heart focussed in developing his own style, his own brand and a way of doing something which he loved and is a signature of his true talent.
On a full stomach, we head off into the craziness that makes Causeway Bay what it is. We head back to my shop cum home, and we start the interview. Eric seems somewhat more relaxed than before.
Eric So’s most recognised work are his handmade 12″ figures of Bruce Lee. His extensive toy collection ranges from old Superman figures to Japanese superheroes. His sudden realisation that Hong Kong had no super hero. So Bruce Lee was his obvious choice. It was much better than Superman because Lee was a real legend and from Hong Kong. Thus it inspired Eric to create 12″ and life sized figures of his favorite childhood icon. Although he first started out in comics and selling his first work in comic expos, he later developed his talent in oil paintings. His work was shown together with his figures last year in New York and Tokyo.
With a huge response from both sides of the globe for his action figures, Eric So set out to invent new concepts of his “So Fun” couple concept with fashion label SSUR in NY. This is only one side to Eric So’s coin so to speak.
The “Art of…” figures of Bruce Lee and Chow Yun Fat are his more realistic molding of icons of his childhood in the late 70’s and 80’s. Eric admires Lee and Fat not for what they are popularised for in the media, but of what they are as an artist. Bruce Lee is known for his kung fu skills, yet he is a deep spiritual man. Eric believes that Bruce Lee’s early death was the time where he developed only his kung fu and movie skills yet had potential for other things, like art sense.
If Bruce Lee were alive today, he would have been a cool philosopher and would be known as one by everyone. That’s what Eric admires in Lee. With Chow Yun Fat, it was the 80’s when his career was huge in Hong Kong. His gangster and triad symbolism earned Fat’s admiration in many teenage kids, and one of them was Eric. “Chow Yun Fat represented the 80’s for Hong Kong and deeply represented or the period which I grew up in, not because of his popularity in Hollywood”.
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