Neil Uchong has been following his passion to create graffiti of all shapes and sizes. He is a full-time artist exploring his inner creativity and a platform for aspiring Pakistani artists. He talks to Karvan in this exclusive interview. 

1. Who is Neil Uchong?
Neil Uchong is a multi-ethnic artist representing Pakistan internationally. He comes from a Chinese and Anglo ethnic background. Neil Uchong is a graffiti artist and goes by the pseudonym Mr. Shade. Although active for over 20 years, he has recently come out to reveal his identity as a graffiti artist to promote the arts and set a platform for aspiring artists in Pakistan. After joining an international crew MCT in 2017, it was his sole duty to promote the arts even more in Pakistan and keep the true essence of graffiti alive. Of the many international tours, Meeting of Styles (USA ) and Street Nights ( UAE) are the most notable events that he has featured his unique style of graffiti along with the colors of Pakistan. Locally his work can be seen at almost every second new upscale venue, while in contrast he still sticks to the roots of authentic graffiti culture and paints in the streets that desperately call out for some color.

2. What motivated you to become a make graffiti and murals?
At a young age marking walls was a way of communicating emotions while still maintaining the privacy of the feelings. What started as plain writings and tags turned to evolved pieces and productions as seen today. Obviously, no one is born with a skill implanted in them and it took a lot of hard work and dedication to evolve. The major influence of getting involved with large productions came from a tour to Sydney, Australia in 2004. This was where inspiration was taken by witnessing train tracks and alleys loaded with graffiti of different hand styles.

3. From where do you get the creative ideas?
Most ideas come from a unique place called life and personal experiences. Every stroke and detail generally represents a form of emotion from day to day life.

4. Your interests include freestyle dance, Parkour, gymnastics, martial arts, stunts, AV production, fashion design, paintings and everything creative. How do you follow so many pursuits?
One experiment in various fields of interest to stay active and productive but eventually settles down to master one skill than being the jack of all and king of none.

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5. How do you let your creative juice flow for the world to see? What is the usual process from brainstorming to product delivery?
Creativity comes from emotional expressionism. This would also include but not limited to loads of coffee and staring at a blank wall for a while until the connection is made. Once the feels are in place the cans do the rest of the work from making outlines to fills and finally the intricate details.

6. You are also the concept designer for Gulabo. How is it going?
Neil Uchong is no longer a concept designer, he has ventured in the fashion world from the post of a junior designer to Creative Director. After which he left the cooperate fashion world to pursue financial independence. Nowadays one can’t just solely run a home within the four corners of a constant monthly paycheck. Since Graffiti pays in the six figures for a single project, it statistically makes a lot more sense to fully concentrate on the arts when it comes to the time invested vs profit. Neil Uchong is currently a full-time Graffiti artist.

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7. You displayed your graffiti collection with SPLASH at the Fashion Pakistan Week Fall 2019. How was the experience?
The SPLASH X NEIL UCHONG graffiti collection was an amazing experience and an opportunity to showcase the art form in a different medium. It was a stepping stone for more opportunities and possibilities to ensure the longevity of the art form in the local market.

8. Your message for the youth of Pakistan?
Respect the art and the art will respect you. If you are truly passionate about something, go forth and do it with dedication and hard work. Its a lot better and easier to work harder with something that you love than to forcefully sit in a career choice that one is not truly passionate about. Success only comes to passionate dedication and consistency so feel free to connect with whatever rocks your boat and you will surely make a huge impact in the society.

For more updates please follow me on Instagram: @NEIL.UCHONG

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