Staff Reporters
Apr 28, 2022

Creative Minds: DDB’s Shawn Lam on how Andy Warhol inspires him

The senior art director at DDB Singapore spills on artists he look up to, his attempt to run away from home as a kid, and leaving his short engineering career to cross over to advertising.

Shawn Lam
Shawn Lam
In Creative Minds, we ask APAC creatives a long list of questions, from serious to silly, and ask them to pick 11 to answer. (Why 11? Just because.) Want to be featured?

Name: Shawn Lam

Origin: Singapore

Places lived/worked: Singapore

Pronouns: He/him

CV

Senior art director, TribalDDB, 2021—present
Senior art director, GOVT, 2019—2020
Art director, Dentsu, 2016—2018
Art director, Arcade/Publicis, 2013—2016 

1. How did you end up being a creative?

After two engineering internships, I knew I was going into the wrong industry. After my National Service, I enrolled into Lasalle College of the Arts with 10 A4 pencil sketches (drawn during my army field camp days), graduated, and stumbled into advertising shortly after. 

2. What's your favourite piece of work in your portfolio?

Definitely a design piece that I created for SG50 [email protected] The inspiration for the design is the numerous rules and regulations in Singapore. Everywhere we go, we see road signs, icons, posters with campaign lock-ups. I felt that it's become part of our culture, and somehow part of Singapore's success story. 

3. What's the one piece of work you most wish you'd done?

Adidas Japan's Green Light Run Toyko. They managed to gamify street running using traffic data from the police. They mapped out traffic light patterns so that runners can run on the streets without stopping.


4. Who are your key creative influences?

Andy Warhol. I am amazed by Warhol's vision of bridging arts and culture together. One of the few artists that started pop art, from doing mass production of prints to filming a random video of himself eating a burger that became a TVC for Burger King after 37 years!

5. What kind of student were you?

A daydreamer who wouldn’t listen. I remember being in kindergarten and thinking I could walk around the compound freely without asking permission from teachers. I was asked to stand outside the classroom as punishment, but left the school to play instead. My parents had a couple of calls from the teachers that day.

6. What's the craziest thing you've ever done?

I tried to leave home at the age of 10. I told my parents that I could survive on the street without money for a week. So, I took a plastic bag, packed a few clothes, and tried to stay at the nearest playground on my block. I went back home an hour later, but realising it wasn’t going to work out for me. There was too much sand everywhere.

7. What career did you think you'd have when you were a kid?

A postman. I've always thought it would be cool to run around and send letters to random people around the world.

8. Tell us about the worst job you ever had.

I worked part-time for a computer repair company when I was still trying to carve out a career in engineering. I was dragging myself to work every day and quit after two weeks.

9. What advice would you give to 10-year-old you, if you could?

Hustle hard for what you really like. I was a big collector of Dragonball playing cards, comic books, and random Japanese toys when I was a kid. In hindsight, I could have made some money by flipping the ones that were popular and got something even bigger.

10. What movie or show do you never get tired of?

Ipman the series. I've watched it over 20 times and even made most of my close friends and family watch it.

11. Tell us about an artist that we've never probably heard of.

Sean Lee, a photographer. I really liked his series titled 'Shauna', where he crossed-dressed as a female version of himself and headed out to the red-light district of Cambodia to experience what's it like living and working within the transgender community. 

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