Ryan Sun, the visionary with grand plans to bring photo-printing business Fotomax into the digital future, gives Prestige the lowdown on his style, his NFT collection and tips for the uninitiated.
By day, the stylish Ryan Sun runs the business development brand of Fotomax, his family-owned business and Hong Kong’s largest photofinishing chain. By night, he’s a self-proclaimed sneakerhead and an avid collector of all things cool and hype. NFTs, a bandwagon we simultaneously want to jump on while scratching our heads at the same time, are his latest obsession.
Sun talks to us about his collecting habits, the appeal of NFTs and how he hopes to transition Fotomax into the digital future through partnerships with the Metaverse. Don’t know what that means?
Let Ryan Sun explain what NFTs mean to you.
You’ve collected sneakers and streetwear for years. When did you become a serious collector?
I believe it was when my wife – who was my girlfriend at that time – asked me to watch Kayne West and Kim Kardashian West’s show. I was intrigued by their style and that was when I started my sneakerhead journey. My wife is very much into high fashion, whereas I was all about the hip-hop style and baggy jeans. My mother used to say that even when I get to a 36-inch waist I won’t need to buy another pair of jeans for a very long time.
Can you tell us a bit about your personal style?
I’m more into street fashion, with elements of ’90s hip-hop style and baggy clothes. As I’m now a father I’ve recently been tuning it down a bit, but hoodies and sweats are still my preference.
What is your most treasured item that you wear?
It would be by Supreme logo hoodie.
And the most treasured item that you don’t?
All my Bathing Ape Shark hoodies. They’ve all become part of my home decor.
How do you describe yourself as a collector?
I like collecting items that fit my character. I always look at the colour and design of the items, and I like mixing and matching. For example, I’d wear two hoodies at the same time to create layers and new colourways. And when Nike x Sacai collaborated on the sneakers with the double Swoosh and double laces, I immediately fell in love.
When did you get into crypto and when did you get interested in NFT?
My friend Shawn Yue introduced us to NFTs. He’s been a big NFT collector since early last year, and while a lot of my friends and Shawn himself have been crypto investors from an early stage, I’m currently only into NFTs. For me, NFTs provide ownership and value to the collector, and this value isn’t just like a copy-and-paste image or a right-click-and-save jpeg image anymore.
Was your interest in art and images something you think was influenced in some ways by your family business in photo-printing?
Definitely. My family played a big part of influencing me when I was young. Since we’ve been looking at good and bad photos for a very long time, I love how we can help artists print their wonderful pieces on canvas and make them look almost like HD photos. For myself, most art pieces are big and bulky and required extra care to maintain. NFTs are different. They can be shown on your phone and can be traded instantly without having a middle agent going back and forth between the buyer and the seller. This has changed the game in art immensely.
What do you look for before you invest in an NFT?
Usually, first I’ll look at who’s designing the artwork. Then I’ll look at the roadmap of the projects – how big the community is, if there’s any cultural impact, and I’ll even check how many real followers they have from their Instagram and Twitter accounts. It’s so important to get an understanding of the project itself before rushing in, because everyone else is flexing on their profile picture.
Identify yourself: are you an investor or a collector?
A bit of both. Let’s say you’re an investor – you bought an NFT that has your character which you might think looks a bit like you. But when the time comes to sell, if you hesitate, then you might miss the chance to sell at a high price. As a collector, look for something you like, but be careful of copycat projects.
Have you always been interested in art?
I like all types of printing, but graffiti art is my favourite. I also enjoy going to art shows and exhibitions with my dad, because that’s when he shares his knowledge or insights about art with me from a photographer’s point of view. I’ve been collecting figures from street artists like Kaws for a while now. I remember when I started college, my first figure was a skater figurine by the local artist Michael Lau.
Do you print any of your digital art, and does your business offer a way to bridge the gap between the digital and physical for the future?
I’ve been printing my NFTs since day one and so have my friends. We can display our NFTs in our offices. Fotomax is stepping into its 40th Anniversary this year and we’ll be launching a new brand called Fotometa. We’ll be working with projects in the Metaverse and with different NFTs to become their printing partners.
What are some tips you can offer someone who’s just getting into NFTs?
Safety first. Everyone should get a cold wallet to protect their digital assets. You have to understand the risks you’re getting yourself into, since you need to use crypto-currencies to trade NFTs. There are also a lot of fake projects out there. There are also hackers who’ll try to scam your coins by sending you direct messages and links that will drain your account.
How do you find new and interesting projects?
Before, the community was so small I could only get information by word of mouth or by searching on Opensea [the NFT marketplace for projects based on the Ethereum blockchain]. Now there’s a lot more information on social media, and I love seeing that all my favourite artists on Instagram are doing NFTs. In the past eight months, NFTs have become such a huge topic in Hong Kong – you can see auction houses and galleries promoting NFTs. This is going to be our future, NFT news and information will be available everywhere.
NFT art is big, but NFT fashion is touted as the next big thing. What’s your take on it?
We’re now in 2022 and the Metaverse is the new hangout spot; there are concerts, fashion shows and more. NFT isn’t just about art – it’s a non-fungible token and it’s a key to access a new level of experience. Fashion is the next step. You might know this already, but brands like Nike and Adidas have invested in NFT projects and I’m looking forward to seeing what they can achieve in the Metaverse. Meanwhile, in the real world, we can flex our very simple clothing but attached with QR codes from top to bottom from high-fashion labels like Louis Vuitton, Dior and Chanel x Chrome Hearts, who’ve come out with NFT fashion items.