Episode interview with Chris Le, find his Twitter @clegfx and check out his new avatar project dropping soon CloneX
[0:33 – 1:11] Chris is the co-founder of Studio RTFKT and soon dropping CloneX, a collaboration with Takashi Murakami.
[1:16 – 8:40] Chris has worked in all forms of entertainment some of the artists e has worked with include; Anderson Paak, NAS, and Rick Ross. From music industry to film he has done it all but always with an emphasis in visual effects (CGI or VFX background) then moved into game skins. Chris developed a lot of skins for the Steam Workshop Platform. In his view skins are the same concept as NFTs.
He then had the idea to put these skins on sneakers and was introduced to Benito through his friend Brock Hofer (Hyperbeast). From there they teamed up with Zaptio to create a digital sneaker brand that could be forged for physicals.
They got funded in 2019 by Galaxy Digital then later by GFR Fund and RTFKT launched in 2020. They returned to NFTs in late 2020 with their release of Cyber Sneaker on Superman.
[8:40 – 11:35] For Kizu he sees a lot of overlap between Chris and Murakami’s background. Starting in fashion, then later moving into the hip-hop industry (Murakami’s colaborations: LVMH, Supreme, Off-White, Kanye West, Ben Baller & Drake)
Chris responds that he only works with people he is a fan of and that their backgrounds (Chris, Zapatio, Ben & Murakami) all aligned, almost as if it were meant to happen.
[11:57 – 13:04] The collaboration came about after the guys at RTFKT did an interview with Forbes Japan after which Murakami reached out with a DM of emojis. The rest is history.
[13:04 – 18:09] Kizu sees Murakami, especially in recent years, as merging the two worlds between hypebeast and nerd culture. This is interesting as usually they are seen as being on the opposite sides of what is cool or fashionable.
For Chris, who has a love for gaming and otaku but also hip-hop culture, this highlights even more the synergy of why and how this collaboration came together. Chris says that him and Ben came into this because they wanted to make gaming cool.
[18:09 – 22:52] Kizu talks about the cultural shift between the need to look cool on and offline and how these worlds are merging.
For Chris who started as a nerdy PC gamer looking up to hip-hop culture, he says that he always knew that pop culture would eventually go in that direction how Clone X for him is bringing these worlds together.
[22:52 – 27:43] Sabretooth notes that there are many PFP projects out right now in the NFT scene and asks Chris how they they came up with, CloneX.
It all started when Ben and Chris started creating virtual influencers (FN Meka) with this background, plus a need to be able to wear their products in the metaverse, a PFP project only made sense. They also liked the challenge of making anime 3D and actually have it look good.
[27:43 – 31:14] The aesthetics of the CloneX project evolved out of a shared love for anime rather than trying to adhere to the tastes of a specific demographic.
[31:14 – 35:34] Kizu brings up how Murakami is a contemporary artist inspired by anime but not actually considered part of the otaku culture. That there is a database of attributes that are used in the creation of anime which form a somewhat rigid structure and that Murakami falls outside of this.
[35:34 – 40:03] Chris talks about how they examined all the details of anime especially the eyes so that they could keep true to a certain aesthetic value, within this though they also wanted to evolve the image so that it represented a bit of the RTFKT taste as well. He admits that people may complain but that ultimately evolution is important.
[40:03 – 44:08] Between the 20,000 avatars that will be released, Kizu notes that they interconnect and cross reference the breadth of the anime database. And that this new work of Murakami could gain him favor in the otaku culture.
[44:08 – 46:12] Chris mentions that there has been some publicity of the project within Japan which makes him really happy as it carries a certain level of validation.
Within the project there are 400 different traits which is enough for over a billion combinations but they are taking their time and really making sure everything looks good and that it still pays homage to classic anime. Chris hopes that people recognize the time and passion that the team has put into the project.
[46:12 – 47:29] The next plans for RTFKT (besides their own metaverse) are a collaboration with On Cyber so that people can have their avatar live in an RTFKT room. There are other collaborations and projects in the works but they have created their avatars so that everything connects and can be worn or used by your avatar.
[47:29 – 50:31] Thinking of how things look once together is a different way of collecting. Chris hopes that people will adapt and change their avatars to their own liking (so long as people pay respect and don’t release them on their own). He thinks of it similarly to VR Chat where people are always create and evolve the characters.
[50:31 – 52:25] This reminds Kizu of Doujinshi, a Japanese copyleft, where popularity is noted by how much people modify it. Chris says this is similar what happen to their Among Drip meme that was popular with Gen Z and blew up out of their control. That’s what he hopes for CloneX. In order to make basic customization was available they teamed with Das and Tafi.
[52:41 – 55:02] The anime and magna that most influenced Chris would be; Akira, Evangelion, Cowboy Bebop, and Fullmetal Alchemist