Almighty Creative

Interview by Alan Ng & Jenkin Au
Words by Kevin Williams & Amie Nguyen
Photography by Jenkin Au

WEBSITE

Throughout his life, Paul has always been a creative individual. Breaking out of the many restrictions on creativity, Paul reached out to the arts. Even before extensive tools were in place to be able to create digital artwork, Paul was already experimenting with the forefathers of tools like Photoshop. Those that surrounded him recognized this creativity and talent and sought to have his talents featured in places he couldn’t have ventured on his own. Now collaborating with many entities around the world, Paul has utilized his skills to tackle national boundaries, unifying many aspects of street culture together. In this conversation, Paul speaks to us about how he began working on the creative side and also how he first dabbled with editing software. Furthermore, Paul speaks to us about what his current projects are, what his expressions are, and what he intends to do in the future with it all.

First of all, how did you get into designing? When did you first step into the art realm?

I guess it was all the online community stuff. I’m more of a digital artist – I can’t draw at all. Before Facebook, before MySpace, before Friendster, and before Asian Avenue, I used to part of this online community called WBS. I don’t know what it stood for but it was where everybody was on. I met a lot of OG internet heads from that. Back then you were allowed to build your own site and everybody had profile pictures and everything was straight HTML based with big and flashing text. Then people posted up pictures, too. I had a piece of shit camera and I didn’t know how to even upload it back then. It wasn’t a digital camera either so I had to scan it. I went to London Drugs to get it scanned and got this program that my dad got called “Print Artist” and from there, I just started putting my own name on pictures and posted it up. I wasn’t about  to go to London Drugs every single time so I ended up buying my own scanner. I bought that and then I started messing around with pictures. If anything that got me more into design, it was trying to promote myself, trying to make my website better than the other dudes.

I got good with Print Artist. My crew in high school and I used to throw hip-hop dances back in the ’90s. I made flyers and that was my own thing. I did my first flyer in black and white – there were no pictures or anything, just text. It was pretty crazy – there were random, unknown DJ names on the flyer. That was my first design work ever.

What art mediums do you use and which ones means the most to you?

I’m more digital such as cut and pasting pictures together and manipulating pictures.

Other than personal interest in design, what kept you sticking to it and learning more of the art?

I just wanted to make myself look good. That’s it. Seriously, I wasn’t even doing it for money or for other people. It was just more for promotion and building this image that I want people to see; to be able to allow people to interpret how I want them to see me and who I am. I am trying to get the closest representation of myself through design. You know what? Art is all by mistake. It’s all fluke and that’s how I learn to do my stuff.

Throughout all these experiences with art, it eventually leads up to Almighty Creative. Tell us a bit more about that.

Originally, it was a t-shirt line that I am struggling with. I don’t know man. It’s just me designing for creative works, for other promo nights, and then at the same time; establish a brand. It specializes on print and online stuff. That’s it.

Where would you see your biggest the things you create? Where’s the biggest love at? Throughout all these creations, and especially with I Dream In Color, everything seems to be very simple but very based on typography. However, for your posters, it’s more about photo manipulation. Where do you see yourself stand the most?

Simplicity. Just to make it simpler. I mean, when it comes to creative flyer work, I seen guys who design art really minimalistically, but it’s not really helping with the promo, marketing wise. You can put a cool image and have type on the bottom, but it doesn’t stand out. When I designed for 1st Love, it was all web-based promo. When you look at it on Facebook, the biggest thing that shows up is text to catch people’s attention. I want to be able to look at a flyer, at a glance, and know exactly what it is. People have ADD nowadays; your attention span is not there so you really got to hit it on point.

My designs are all different – it depends on what I am working on, if it’s for marketing and promo, it’s going to have showcase a selling-factor more than anything. When it comes to my own stuff, it’s more minimal. If anything, the picture speaks more than what it’s suppose to say.

What are going to school for currently?

Digital Design.

What do you want to get out of that?

I want to become a Creative Director, Art Director. I mean, I went to school for Advertising Design back in Toronto and I love ads. I look at Communication Arts  books and see how they come up with campaigns; I want to be on that level. I want a big company to hire me and come up creative art for them. That’s what I want to do.

Tell us about your interest and works in film and photography.

Again, everything I do in terms of design has to do with myself. The print stuff, the creative flyers and what not, are because I was trying to apply all those things to Almighty or Paul Skratch. People would see it and ask me to apply it to their projects and then I would apply myself to other people. You know how there are some artists out there that work with other people but don’t really apply themselves onto people’s artwork? For me, I just put whatever I do or have into the art I create for them. It’s my personality. If you are going to hire me as a designer I am going to put myself into your work.

Film?

It’s funny. I love film but it’s not a sense of me making a short film or becoming an independent film director. The only reason why I got into it was because I wanted to film my life and what I do. Its just stuff like that. I just wanted to make my shit look cool.

Going back to your work in the film and photography aspect, you started off with I Dream In Color TV, and then it turned to Improv Vision TV, now it’s Handjive Theatre. What’s with the names?

The three names were all derived from my feelings at the moment. I started with I Dream In Color TV just because it was about documenting my progress in completing the I Dream In Color project. Then, it just became a scratch video segment kind of thing. I couldn’t call it I Dream In Color TV because it wasn’t just a scratch video series. Then this show was really about just what me and Mike did, hence Improv Vision. I would just record all the things we do in the studio and Cohesive TV recently hit me up and wanted to have my show online and get distributed as a DVD to LA, Berlin, Japan, and New York. I agreed to do it but they asked me to flip the name. I have a list on my computer of all these random thoughts that I have. A bunch of names and words I come up with. Quotes and what not. I was looking at them all and my original project – instead of I Dream In Color – was called Handjive Theatre.

That was like more of an acid jazz, down tempo, break beat style music. I was like, “Well, that’s cool. I can use it this time because you are actually watching me scratch and doing my thing in the studio.” All these people that appear in my show are like characters in my life, so that’s why I called it Handjive Theatre. When I first submitted my first episode, it was about 15 minutes long because you can’t really watch a web-based show for more than 10-15 minutes. I passed them the segment and they said, “This was it?” They said it should be at least 20, 40 minutes. You guys just want to see me scratch masturbate?

(Everyone laughs)

Personally, I wouldn’t want to sit through and watch a guy scratch for that long. I changed it up and Handjive Theatre is going to follow my life, and I Dream In Color. I am still in the middle of taping it. Everything would be black and white, but when I do anything related to music, it’ll be in color.

Tell us a bit about your art exhibition, Tunnel Vision.

When I bought a camera, I wanted to make use of it. I wanted to showcase all these photographers that have showed me love. I admire their work, actually. Wouldn’t it be cool to showcase photography? If you have been to Tunnel, it’s shaped like a tunnel and there are screens. Why don’t we just showcase photography? At the first one, we got Hermes; he does a lot of photography for club nights and what not; my homegirl, Tasha, who goes by the name Cherche, she’s a DJ/Drummer/Promoter, but photography was the biggest thing for her. I got our own photography gallery for a night because I just wanted to showcase our photography. I would honestly like to see that in an art space one day. It was cool, a lot of people were receptive to it. The artists were all down and I am thankful.

Where do you draw your inspirations for art? What areas of life influence your art?

From other artwork, from other artists and from my moods. I have crazy emotional swings. It depends on how I feel. Right now, it has been spacey. It has been all spacey and vintage sci-fi posters. If you look at my recent work for everything, you see all these stars in the background. Cosmic and all, really grainy look in the images. I love that – illustrated art.

Many artists have a dream project in where they want to fully express themselves throughout and you mentioned earlier it being I Dream In Color. Tell us a bit more about it.

I Dream In Color is a project that show cases my writing, my photography, my design and my production in music. It’s everything as one thing. My ideal finished product would include a CD which all the music that I have composed, a book that has my writing, my sayings and past experiences. My ideal things, clips of photos and videos that I have done all together in one package. Even a t-shirt hopefully.

What was the origin of the name Almighty? What was the story and meaning behind it?

I was sick with cancer before and it was a struggle for me to cope with. I am sure I am a cancer survivor. I have been through so many tests and thankfully there are no signs of the disease anymore. I wanted to start a clothing line and back then, the first name was “Most Hated”. My friends and I all had low-riders bikes. We were all about Dickies and all black everything. “People looked at us and they were mad at us for our bikes man! We were most hated!” I was going to start designing an Asian based low rider influenced clothing and what not. Rhek started a clothing line called Haters Inc. before Sharks and Hammers. That’s funny man and our names were too close. Then I was going to change my name because he was already on print and it was too similar. I thought about what to me in life meant the most and it was overcoming cancer. While I was looking up for words. Nothing can take me down; it’s all in your head really. If you really want to do something and you strongly feel that you can succeed. At that time, I was like shit! I am Almighty. I’m strong, no matter what. You can throw anything in front of me and I will overcome. That’s what I wanted to represent, something strong, not god-like.

If your art can express a message, what would it be?

My designs are all over the place right? I just want Almighty to represent me. The different personalities I have. If you are going to go all flamboyant and colorful, that’s, the show-off in me. Most of my work, like my website is all one color. I am a simple, timeless dude. I am an emo guy. All my artwork derives from all my different personalities. It’s just an expression of my personalities.