Interview with PLAY! POP GO! Creator Amber Park

Get ready to be obsessed with PLAY! POP! GO! A unique universe that Amber Park is creating that’s all about dreaming and connecting with your creativity in a gamified way. Amber is doing really exciting work in music, fashion, and shaping pop culture. She makes amazing stuff by mixing her heritage and what she picks up from the unique ways she’s tapped into the now. As a fellow queer Asian person, I’m super proud to be collaborating with her.
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Interview with PLAY! POP GO! Creator Amber Park


Where are you based and what do you do? 

I was born and raised in LA, and I'm based in LA, and I guess LA is home and where I work. But it's been crazy this last year – I’ve spent it traveling non-stop. I now feel like I’m based everywhere, and that I’m very mobile. 

When it comes to what I do, or I guess what I call myself, that’s also been crazy because I started my career as an art director and creative director, and I’m a visual artist. But now I guess I’m a CEO of a tech start-up. So much of my career has been existing in these very multi-hyphenate jobs. But I’ve now embraced that I like to just think of myself as a storyteller. So much of my work and focus is now “How can I tell this story?” No matter what the medium it’ll be, at the end of the day, the intention and objective is very much storytelling.

How would you describe your friendship with Nicola?

I don’t think I ever told him this and I don’t want to freak him out, but I have actually been such a huge fan of his. I grew up being the biggest Lady Gaga fan. Being queer and being obsessed with creative storytelling and what not, “Fame Monster” and “Born This Way” were just huge influences. I was obsessed with all the music videos and the fashion and I was one of those nerd kids who did all the research so I was eventually like oh my gosh there’s this guy behind all of this. Even in my own career I’ve always used Gaga as the reference point of the level of execution I should always strive for. Then one day I don’t know how he found my Instagram, but he DMed me and said something like “I love your work” and I literally lost my mind. I was like “I must have made it to be recognized by someone whose whole thing is such a high level of creative integration.” And he was like “If there’s ever something that we can work on together, let’s do it.” and oh my gosh if that ever happens I think I will actually lose my mind. He’s been super supportive of my career and it’s honestly so surreal to me. 

Can you tell me more about that journey from visual art to tech? 

It’s been this surreal full circle moment because I launched my career making fan art on Instagram. I grew up in a very conservative Korean Christian immigrant household where creativity was not really encouraged. At the same time I was an outcast and was bullied, and was very introverted and shy as a teenager. So to me, creativity became a form of escapism and now that I think of it as an adult, subconscious therapy. 

When I was in high school, it was kind of the right time, right place, where Instagram was becoming a portfolio platform. So I was like, I’m gonna post my art, and it was kind of shitty fan art. But I got discovered on Instagram by Wiz Khalifa’s photographer, and that’s how I got my first job. Wiz Khalifa tagged me and that opened the floodgates for work with other artists. It was cool because I was able to build this mysterious persona as this random Korean teenage girl who was working with all of these artists.

So it all feels like a chain of happy accidents that social media was the launching pad for my career, and now I’m in this new chapter when I’m launching essentially a tech and IP startup using blockchain technology and a social platform. 

What drew you to blockchain?

So much of my work naturally gravitated towards how I can use mediums in different ways. For example, if something is an IP driven project, how do you use it and tack on innovation to amplify storytelling in a very instantaneous Gen Z kind of way? 

I do think humans are social creatures, but we’re also narcissists. We like to make ourselves protagonists in our own stories. Like when you go to a concert, you go because you love the artists and the music makes you feel a certain way. But you also start to imagine yourself in different scenarios, like the music transports you subconsciously into a movie of your own life. So the social component and human ego component of art became really fascinating to me. The psychology of using creativity, not as a creator but as a consumer. And then I realized so much of our physical existence and reality is spent digitally. It’s how we find out about breaking news, how we consume culture, even the way we spend time with our friends, a lot of it lives in text chains. So our attention spans are short for better or worse. So then I went back to my “How do I share my story?” I became compelled by blockchain because despite the misconceptions about web3 spaces, it's fundamentally just about the ability to quantify and visual transactions. By transactions, I don’t mean like math equations or a money thing. Exchanging emails, or communicating through text, those are all transactions, and that tells a story. That’s why I’m like okay we’re not an NFT project, but we’re utilizing blockchain. 

It was like, “Okay, as a 25 year old Asian American Queer female, how am I going to launch a mass media company?” and obviously me trying to raise billions and billions of dollars to build an amusement park may take 20 plus forever years and to make a multi-million dollar animated franchise movie is going to take another 10 plus years in traditional mediums. But the power of the internet and the social media age is the ability to start at your fingertips. You can tell a two and a half hour movie in a span of a day-to-day campaign, or an activation that gamifies the experience. 

The beauty of blockchain is how you can integrate user data and engagement in this really amplified way and build out digital experiences. It allows itself to be this kind of evolution of direct to consumer experience we are already used to by shopping online or streaming. Another cool thing that blockchain allows is not having to look at things linearly. Like if I buy a product, the physical product could have a whole digital activation side of it. 

Is there anything you’re working on right now that really excites you?

I mean obviously, right now, the big focus in my life is PLAY! POP! GO! Just because it’s been this childhood dream of mine to have my own Hello Kitty, and to just at least say that I tried. On June 21st, we’re releasing our first proper launch. It’s our first fashion capsule, and it’s us introducing this concept of what I like to call experiential playware. It’s taking the streetwear model, but giving it a gamified storytelling aspect. So basically whatever you buy from the capsule comes with the digital storytelling version of it that unlocks an experience or story around the product. So each product has its own little mini-activation. I really believe that so much about streetwear that I loved as a kid, like NIGO and BAPE and Pharrell, and that culture was not necessarily about the physical products themselves, but that whole aspirational lifestyle and meaning behind it. So now with technology and blockchain, we can visualize that in a digital sense. Later in the summer, we’re launching PLAY! Kids, which are digital avatars. 

I’ve just been really focused on showing that kind of seamless integration and breaking down what’s “web2” vs “web3” and showing people that blockchain technology is not just NFTs and scams, or nauseating testosterone and stock flipping. Like there's so much power and potential to elevating direct-to-consumer experiences.

Right, and PLAY! POP! GO! Is how you’re showing people a more creative vision of blockchain. 

Yeah, I’m proposing that you can create moments that don’t have to fit into boxes by showing that the internet is now a fluid canvas that goes 360 degrees. There are no rules so you can just dream and play. Our brand ethos is three prong. There’s nostalgia. There’s human empathy, which is just showing people how to do things from a place of love and treating people with kindness. And the third is that the world is our playground and building a lifestyle culture where people want to play. Because life is short and fucked up, and I just want to have fun during it. 

アンバー・パークが作る「自分の新たなクリエイティブな側面に出会える」ドリーミーでゲームライクなPLAY! POP! GO! の世界に魅了される準備はできてる?アンバーは音楽、ファッション、ポップカルチャー全てにおいて面白い提案をし続けている。彼女は自身のルーツと独特な観点で見出すポップカルチャーを融合して素敵なものを作る。クィアなアジア人同士、コラボレーションできることをすごく光栄に思ってるよ。と思われようと自信満々で突き進んできてる。彼の存在自体が彼の作品だよね。ジェンダーの固定概念に常に反発し続け、誰も他人の物差しに囚われなくていいんだよと体現する彼は最高。あと、キャンディのTikTokは普通に面白い(笑)。

—ニコラよりAmber Parkについて


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ニコラとはまだこのことを話してなくて、引かれたくはないんですが、私はニコラに出会う前からかなり大ファンだったんです。私はずっとレディー・ガガのファンで、クィアでありクリエイティブなストリーテリングに魅力を感じていた私は「Fame Monster」と「Born This Way」は多大な影響を受けました。彼女のミュージックビデオとファッションに魅了されていた私は政策に関わっているスタッフを調べるほどオタクでニコラの存在を知り「裏でこの世界観を全部作り上げている人がいるなんて!」と驚きました。自分のキャリアにおいてもずっとレディ・ガガを作品のクオリティのベンチマークとして見てきました。どうやって私のインスタグラムを見つけたのかは知らないのですが、ある日突然ニコラからDMが来たんです。「君の作品良いね」といった感じのDMだったのですが、脳みそ爆発するかと思いました。ニコラレベルのクリエイティブな人に作品を認めてもらえるなんて自分は成功者の一人になれたのかもしれないとワクワクしました。「いつか一緒に仕事しようよ。」と言ってくれて、もし実現したら本当に脳みそ爆発してしまうかもしれないです(笑)。そのDM以来私のキャリアをとてもサポートしてくれて未だに夢のようです。







人間は社交的な生き物でありながらナルシストな生き物だと思ってます。自分を無意識に主役化する。コンサートに行く時、もちろんそのアーティストが好きで音楽に心が動かされるから行くのですが、同時にいろんなシナリオの自分を頭に浮かべます。音楽を楽しみながらも無意識に自分の人生の映画化の中の主人公である自分を想像もします。そのようなアートを楽しむ上での社交的な部分と人間のエゴの部分の関わり合いに興味を持ちました。クリエイターとしてではなく消費者として働きかけるクリエイティビティーとは、というところです。そこから私たちの存在時間の大半をデジタル上ですでに過ごしていることにも気付きました。ニュース速報を見つけるのも、エンタメや文化を消費するのも、人間関係を構築している場もほとんとがネット上です。良し悪し関係なく集中力が低下している世の中で「ストーリーを伝えるには?」という私の基盤である質問に戻ってきた時ブロックチェーンに落ち着いたのです。Web3について誤情報が沢山横行してますが、基本的には取引を可視化するというだけのことなのです。取引とは別に数字のことや金銭に限られた話をしているのではなく、メールやテキスト上の会話などもある種の取引と見ると、それらの取引からストーリーが浮かび上がってきます。だから私は NFTプロジェクトを立ち上げているのではなく、ブロックチェーンを活用したプロジェクトを立ち上げていると認識してます。




もちろん、私が今一番注力しているのはPLAY! POP! GO!です。私は子供の頃から自分の「ハローキティ」のような存在を作り出すことを夢見ていたので、せめて「挑戦した。」と言える仕事ができることにワクワクしてます。6月21日に初の出来上がった商品のローンチをします。初めてのファッションカプセルコレクションで、私が「体験型プレイウェア」と呼んでいるコンセプトを世に出すことになります。商品を購入するとその商品自体がそれにまつわるデジタルストーリーを体験するための鍵になっていて、商品ごとに別体験を楽しめるというものです。NIGOやベープ、ファレルなど私が子供の頃大好きだったストリートウェア文化は商品ではなく、それらが彷彿させるライフスタイルや新たな価値観などが主軸だったと信じてます。だからブロックチェーンを使用してそういうものをデジタル上で可視化することを目指しています。夏の終わり頃にはPLAY! Kidsというデジタルアバターを発表する予定です。

ブロックチェーンとアートのシームレスな融合、「Web2」・「Web3」間の壁を取り壊すこと、そしてブロックチェーンはただ NFTや詐欺や株だけではないということを広めることが目先の目標です。消費者に直接体験を届けることを進化させられるって凄いことです!

PLAY! POP! GO!自体がアンバーが思うブロックチェーンのポテンシャルを体現してるってことですね。

はい。このプロジェクトを通して、ネットを流動的な360度包み込めるキャンバスとして捉えることによって型にハマらない体験を作れるということを提案してます。ルールがないということを提示することによってみんなの中にある遊び心や夢を実現する能力を引き出せると思ってます。PLAY! POP! GO!は三つの理念を軸にしています。一つ目はノスタルジー。二つ目はエンパシー、優しさと愛情をベースにクリエイトすること。そして三つ目は世の中は私たちの遊び場であり、みんなが「遊びたい」と思えるライフスタイルを提案することです。人生は短いし、大変なことも多いので何がなんでも楽しまなきゃですね。