Here are Some of the Cool Things I Spotted at Asia's Biggest Street Culture Convention

Art, fashion, toys, and tattoos came together at Culture Cartel 2018.

by Erika Agravante
03 December 2018, 11:00am

Singapore’s F1 Pit Building was filled to the brim with everything "street" this past weekend, as Culture Cartel showcased the best of street culture that Southeast Asia and the world has to offer.

It was, in a way, a historic weekend. It was the first time in Asia where different aspects of street culture met, and formed a coherent narrative on the state of local and global street culture today and where it's heading.

I attended the event with high expectations, and it did not disappoint. Judging by the sizable amount of the crowd last weekend—from die-hard street culture fans to curious onlookers—it's a little hard to believe that it took so long for an event like this to happen.

Here are just some of the coolest things I spotted during the two-day festivities:

The first ever VR graffiti battle in Asia

Though I don't think you can tell graffiti artists to ditch their spray paint cans just yet, I can't deny that the VR graffiti battle at Culture Cartel was a glimpse of how the art is evolving. Using Tilt Brush by Google, participants went on brushing away in virtual reality with only 10 minutes to complete their masterpiece. They were supposedly the first VR graffiti battle participants in this continent, so if I were them, I would brag about that for at least a whole year. Check out snippets of the qualifiers and finals on VICE Asia's Instagram highlights.

vr graffiti battle
The VR graffiti battle powered by Google Tilt Brush

Tattoo legends Nissaco and Gakkin

It's not everyday that you get to be in the same room as so many legends, so I tried to take it in as much as possible. Headlining the event were two legendary tattoo artists from Japan, Nissaco and Gakkin. VICE got to sit down with them to have a quick chat, but some of the other attendees were luckier as they were able to score a tattoo from them. Both Nissaco and Gakkin also judged the event's tattoo competition where artists from Oracle Tattoo, Skin Label, and Singapore Electric reigned supreme.

gakkin and nissaco
Tattoo legends Gakkin and Nissaco

Toys and more toys

If there's one thing Culture Cartel 2018 reiterated, it's how serious the toy scene is. From KAWS, to Be@rbrick, to Mighty Jaxx, Culture Cartel didn’t fall short on showcasing how awesome these collector’s items are. There's even a talk called "The Toy Market Today," which took place on Saturday, that discussed the serious hobby-slash-business toy collecting has become all around the world.

KAWS private collections

All types of Hypebeasts

I have to admit, half of what made Culture Cartel so interesting were the people it drew. You could see groups of young people wearing head-to-toe street designers, but there were plenty who came in basic fast fashion gear. All weekend, many people spent a considerable amount of time lining up to get their pre-orders on shoes like the Air Jordan XI Concord and some new Yeezys. Besides the massive brands, there were plenty of local streetwear labels that opened up shops there as well.


Points of discussion at "Streetwear Today," another panel at the event, were how much the streetwear industry has changed in five years (in summary, A LOT) and how much social media and Hype in capital H has affected both brands and retailers alike.

streetwear today panelists
Panelists and moderators of 'Streetwear Today' from L-R: Tamish and Giorgi of Ageless Galaxy (Indonesia), Hugh of Pestle & Mortar Clothing (Malaysia), Jeremy Tan of Culture Cartel, Chooee Hwang of Streething, Mae Tan of Surrender (Singapore), and Shangguan Zhe of Sankuanz (China)

So much art

Various pieces of art lined the venue, from walls of graffiti to gorilla cardboard sculptures. There were some pop culture-inspired paintings up for grabs too. Highly respected artists in Singapore and in other countries were also in attendance, such as legendary New York graffiti artist Stash. No matter where you looked, there were plenty to see. The long lines, the competitions, the panels, and the collaborations I saw between artists and musicians this past weekend are a reminder that the rapidly changing world of street culture is all the more reason we need to take a moment to appreciate it all, at events like this.

Quick chat with one of New York's graffiti legends, Stash.

Want to relive the weekend? Follow VICE Asia on Instagram and check out our highlights for live coverage of #CultureCartel2018.