Zine Files: Lowell Ong


Lowell Ong is curator of all sorts of things, I was going to say art but he enjoys a lot more things than just art. He is the co founder of Freeways Collide a multi disciplinary art studio, zine maker and all around awesome photographer.


Interview & Post by:  Sara Todd



Why did you start making zines?

I started making zines for myself. I felt like I had something to say and I wanted to publish it and distribute it out in the world. Plus it gave my wife and me something to do together!


Did you grow up surrounded by art?

Nope. Not in the sense of how kids are these days. But I knew I always wanted to do art since an early age. I used to go through those Ed Emberley books and in elementary school, we had an art docent that taught us classical and abstract stuff. It fascinated me. Then I found out my dad knew how to draw and that blew my mind away because I'd known him all my life and I never knew he could draw. He was a car salesman at the time. So it just was amazing. Since then I'd been inspired. But I had to really engage myself a lot into art, the techniques, history, and theory, by myself. What it meant to me and what I wanted to do and say with it. During high school, I learned a lot of the traditional techniques of art and design. I took as much drawing classes as I could and learned how to code websites and create 3D animations. I was just trying to figure it out and surround myself with things I thought were involved with creating. But I didn't know what I was doing, what the context of everything was. I feel like nowadays young kids can learn that stuff quick through Wikipedia and online courses. 


How did your teenage years shape you to the man you are today?

Oh shit. This is a heavy question! High school was weird and I'm sure its' weird for everybody, but for me it was just an awesome and strange time to be in. I was a skate rat and I made all my core group of friends through skateboarding. So they helped influence me a ton, from the trouble we got into, to the music we listened to, and the shit we talked about. They shaped my attitudes and perspectives on life and I'm psyched to know all of them still throughout all these years. A few other things that helped shape my teenage years: The Asians back in the day who thought skateboarding was "too white" to do (please note: this was Orange County in the late 90s / early-early 00's and most Asians were into rap, rice rockets, and import models.) Growing up in a suburban neighborhood that was majority conservative white people. Realizing that they never nurtured you as well in high school if you were a C+ student. I only realized this when I dated a girl who was in all Advanced Placement classes and I was helping her out with her homework.


How did you go from painting/drawing to photography?

I don't know. I just did! No really, I don't know. I was drawing and painting for so long that by the time I was 24, I was kind of over it. So I took a hiatus. I had done some photography before but never took it seriously and I just kinda gradually got into it. At first I thought I wanted to do film though, become a director or cinematographer or something like that. But that shit was way too much work. Photography is a lot easier and way more fun.


Last question, would you go on a one-way trip to Mars?

Hell no! I'm no Mark Watney.