No one wants to admit this, but the holiday season is competitive. Every December is a contest to reveal our humor, thoughtfulness, or eccentricity as a gift giver. If you're reading this as you buy a sandalwood candle for that special person in your life, then I'm afraid you've already lost.
To those who have been underwhelming gifters all their lives — don't worry, it's not too late. Rather than skip lunch and rush to the mall, you still have one more week to panic-order presents online. And if you decide to step up your game and win the hearts of friends and family, you might want to check out this list we’ve put together of coveted collectibles from Singapore’s underground artists. Their work is definitely cooler than whatever else you were planning on. Trust us.
PERFUME PACKAGED IN OLD SCHOOL MEDICINE BOTTLES BY MOJOKO
Singapore's Chinatown is full of old medicine bottles that usually end up collecting dust on shelves. Steve Lawler, the artist known as MOJOKO, has hunted down scores of these vials to package his line of custom fragrances. The collection—called "Sick Scents"—mixes traditional Asian aromas such as rose oil and mandarin with modern elements like bubblegum and Cola. The bottles are done up in MOJOKO’s signature style of East-meets-West kitsch, featuring vintage photographs and anime characters. Each perfume is limited to 20 pieces though, so inquire about availability here.
PRINTS, TOTE BAGS, AND ZINES FROM KNUCKLES & NOTCH
Knuckles & Notch is an independent risograph press that creates vibrant images in bright hues and fine lines. Scroll through their webstore for quirky illustrations, zines and tote bags that are easy on the wallet and will outdo anything you'll find in a department store. Our favorite designs feature Snow White reimagined as a pin-up girl, which is part of an erotic fairy tales series done by Knuckles & Notch co-founder Djohan Hanapi.
PSYCHEDELIC T-SHIRTS BY REZA HASNI
Reza Hasni's world is a medley of acid house smileys, religious motifs, planets, and colorful wheels. His prints toy with the concepts of ancestral myths and spirituality. And you can buy them for $25 USD (before shipping) for that person in your life who likes microdosing on acid to "stay creative." Look through the rest of his stuff here, and watch out for the blue creatures that will remind you of French sci-fi animation La Planete Sauvage . It’s only after looking at Reza’s mind-expanding collages that you realize how overused the word “trippy” really is.