Luke Choi is definitely one of the most humble designers I’ve had the pleasure of meeting. With dedication and nimble fingers, he found a spot at MTV’s On Air Design as designer/director where he stayed for three years. After learning the art of stop-motion and motion blur, he left MTV to pursue more personal work. Since then he’s freelanced for MTV, VH1, G-Unit records, Trooper, Def Jam, Sony Music, Pokemon USA, and Payless Wireless. Oh, and he is the founder of KRSP. Unfamiliar with KRSP? KRSP, formed in 2005 and fuses the art of design with innovation. Born from passion for an inventive style, KRSP showcases a penchant for the extraordinary. To stay KRSP is to express yourself, challenge the line between perception and reality. You can find his threads on the back of people like Snoop Dogg, DJ Whoo Kid, and Travis Barker, while finding his music videos featuring the hottest up-and-coming hip hop artists in the game. The man is a true jack-of-all trades!
Luke, could you tell us about your time as a designer, from your formal training to some of your entry level jobs that steered you into the direction you’re in now?
Luke: I started out studying architecture at Urbana-Champaign, but during my junior year I discovered Graphic Design and decided to switch. It took about two years for me to move to NYC and basically start my education over, but I think that was the best decision I ever made. I was very passionate about print design in school and I thought I was going to continue the print path, but when i graduated, I got to work at MTV doing motion graphics. It was an amazing experience because I learned a lot from really great and talented people. I got to design, animate, direct, edit and sometimes even make music/sounds. Everything I do now is a little bit of all my past experiences, even all the weird part-time jobs I worked during school to survive.
I’m currently the founder of KRSP. It’s a play on word the word “crisp,”
We interviewed Jeff Staple (Staple Design/Reed Space) a few episodes back and I wanted to ask you the same thing I asked him, since your brands seem to similar in the sense they are so limitless. KRSP is a hat trick of creativity so how do you structure your business?
Luke: We are just getting started so we’ve got a lot of figuring out to do. But yes, KRSP is a creatively driven company and by creative, I also mean the ability to identify and solve problems. To borrow from Bruce Lee (since you mentioned Jeff Staple), we want to be formless, shapeless – like KRSP water. So when you put KRSP water into a bottle, it becomes the KRSP bottle.
DJ Whoo Kid, Just Blaze, Snoop Dogg & more have been spotted wearing your brand. What is the importance of community involvement to propel your brand to redefine urban lifestyle?
We want to inspire and be inspired and it’s amazing to work with so many talents and idols that support us. It’s important to give back to the community because we are part of the community and it’s part of us. we are one and this is what we are about — KRSP is here to elevate the lifestyle and the culture.
I suppose adding to that, you’ve directed videos for Big K.R.I.T., Royce Da 5’9 (of Slaughterhouse fame), to name a few. Did your clothing line pave the way for you to work with hip hop artists, or was it the other way around?
Luke: It just made sense to do the video thing because of my work background. I loved what we did with Ski Beatz and Curren$y. We did a video and t-shirt that told a story together. I think the hip-hop community was the first to embrace the idea of KRSP, but by nature we are always looking for new opportunities to collaborate both within and outside of the hip-hop world.
KRSP’s mission statement challenges the line between perception and reality. Could you expand upon this and what your brand is doing differently that no other designer in the game is doing?
Luke: I refuse to believe the saying “everything’s been done before.” Weather its not true or not, its our job to keep trying to do new things. We want to present things in a new vision, whether it’s something completely original or something old that you see done differently. We want to mix boundaries, make statements, have fun, inspire, change something, live, understand and tell stories.I don’t know if we have accomplished our mission yet, but that is what we strive to do everyday.
The brand has evolved to jewelry, music videos, additional clothing lines, even bobbleheads!? I’m sure you’re just scratching the surface, so any future projects you could let out of the bag for us?
Luke: We love doing collaborations because it inspires us to think outside of our comfort zone. And we’ve really liked the results so far. We are working on few collaboration designs with a few folks. There’s a long list so I’m trying to knock out one at a time but its a blessing to have a lot of people I respect asking to work together. My goal is to make our brand “crisp” as in you can see, smell, taste, hear, touch it. We’re here to please all your five senses.
Tell us how SWRL came about, and why the focus on the sport of soccer?
Luke: Soccer is the most popular sport in the world — there are kids all around the world playing this game even if they can’t afford shoes or gear. It’s everywhere and freestyle soccer was an extension of that world, but with a twist. So I think that was the connection, we thought freestyle soccer had a lot of KRSP qualities like creativity, pushing boundaries, and self-expression. We met Steve Elias (world champion freestyler) and his team and we both felt the immediate connection and decided to start the freestyle soccer brand SWRL. It was really a mutual respect and love. I really enjoy working on the brand. From the people to the sport [and the lifestyle built around it], it’s a lot of fun.
Luke, I hope you have time to relax from time to time, do any Asian films find their way into your DVD player? Got any favs or recommendations?
Luke: I really want to watch more, but its hard to find the time. I do try to keep up with whats going on in Asian films. I grew up in Korea obsessing about American films, so its amazing to see Asian movies doing it big. My favorite director is Wang Kai Wai. I found out he also started out as graphic designer as well and it shows in his films — they are very beautiful. Most recently, I watched [Takashi Miike’s] 13 Assassins. That was a great family movie [laughs].
What is most challenging about establishing a fashion design career or branding yourself?
Luke: Presentation. An idea is nothing if it’s not communicated right. Thats what I struggle with everyday now [and it’s a welcome challenge]. I have a lot of mediums to express my creativity as well, so its important for me to stay focused and make sure each idea is presented correctly.
Lastly, any advice for any creatives out there looking to get their dream off the ground?
Luke: Work hard. Don’t believe in talent.
Thanks for your time and I will proudly rock your threads in the Texas South proudly. We wish you continued success Luke!
Luke: Thank you so much! I wish you the same and stay KRSP!
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