Kenji Chai (Black Fryday) will be at the Kicks On sneaker convention to complete a graffiti mural live. We caught up with the man himself to find out 10 interesting facts about him.
1. The name “Black Fryday” is a combination of Kenji’s favorite color and favorite weekday.
“I came up with the name when I was in my rebellious stage of life, towards the end of secondary school. Black was my favorite color though the elders would not approve of it as it is a mourning color. Friday was my favorite weekday as it means that freedom and fun is just around the corner. But just using Friday would be too boring so I switched it up a little by changing an alphabet. However, these days I sign off using my real name which is Kenji Chai.”
2. Kenji was a graphic designer before becoming an artist.
“I knew from a young age that my passion is in the arts. I started joining art competitions since primary school and after graduating from secondary school, I went on to complete a course in graphic design. I found a job as a graphic designer but went on to develop my skills further by doing illustration jobs for Xpax and U-Mobile. I discovered graffiti in 2008.”
3. For Kenji, Graffiti filled the void that graphic design couldn’t.
“I had studied and worked in the graphic design field but there was a certain sense of detachment between me and the artwork. It just does not seem real as it is merely a file made of binary numbers. Drawing on my school table as a kid also gave me much joy so when I chanced upon a graffiti artwork I really liked, I decided to give it a try. The experience is a world of difference from working on a computer. It is a lot more challenging with the size of the wall as compared to a screen. Variables such as the weather and wall condition and the absence of an undo button makes it all interesting and gives a higher sense of self satisfaction upon completion of a piece.”
4. Kenji would rather be the turtle in a race.
“[The comparison between talent and passion] is kinda like the story of the rabbit and turtle racing. The rabbit has the obvious advantage of being fast but the turtle had the passion and determination to complete the race. Eventually, the turtle won the race as the rabbit was lazy and took a nap when he thought that the turtle will not catch up to him. Talent will give a person a head start but only passion will take the person further. Skills can be learned but positive attitude and self motivation cannot be taught.”
5. Kenji has been spending a lot of time on Pangkor Island lately.
“[My favorite project so far] would be my recent project in Pangkor Island where I did multiple artworks around the island. That project allowed me to escape the hustle and bustle of my concrete jungle and reconnect with people and nature. I specially designed my artwork to fit the relaxing island environment by using animals such as my signature Doggy Chai and a giant hornbill which received a lot of positive feedback from the local residents. They were all super caring as well, offering me food and drinks while I worked. It was one of the best experience as an artist and human being that I’ve had.”
6. Cloth will be the medium for Kenji’s next project.
“I have an upcoming collaboration with Gilbert Ng who is a fashion designer. It would be something very new and fascinating as I would be putting my design on a whole new medium which is cloth in the form of a dress. It would be more challenging and hopefully rewarding as well because it is multi-dimensional compared to a flat wall.”
7. Kenji counts Singapore’s Clogtwo one of the many artists he looks up to.
“I admire the works of Nychos, Sobekcis, Aryz, Rime, Clogtwo, and Katun. There are many more, too many to mention.”
8. Kenji is inspired by the world around him, particularly people, travel and the movies.
“Everything inspires me! The people I meet in my daily life, movies and of course traveling. Traveling widens my perspective of life as I get to meet people of different cultures. From the clothing, to food, to entertainment, and architecture – everything gives me new ideas. Besides that, on a more regular basis, movies gives me inspiration as imagination has no limits in it. Inspiration can be found anywhere, we just have to learn to see it.”
9. If Kenji weren’t an artist, he’d be nothing at all.
“Honestly I cannot imagine myself in any other field.”
10. Kenji is a bit of an Air Jordan fan.
“My favorite sneakers are the AJ 3 “Black Cement”, AJ 11 and AJ 12.
Catch Kenji Chai at Kicks On, happening 22 September 2013.