|THE PROOF is a weekly roundup showcasing local creatives. A column for creatives to share their story and work, in a unique, concise format: each creative shows 8 pictures and answers 8 questions. Past participants include Bob Kronbauer, Omer Arbel, Carson Ting, Lizzy Karp, Branislav Henselmann, Hannah Georgas, Douglas Haddow – all living in Vancouver.|
Apathy and ennui aren’t part of Ken Tsui’s vocabulary. He’s a relentless doer with a knack for creating one-of-a-kind events. As Program Director of the revitalized Chinatown Night Market, Ken gave Keefer Street new life with outdoor movies, ping pong tournaments, and mahjong lessons that connected Chinatown’s old guard with the new kids on the block. He also slung gourmet lunch trays at Rain City Chronicles and sold out three nights of storytelling and Hong Kong cuisine while playing host to Gregor Robertson, SFU writer-in-residence Madeleine Thien and funny man Charlie Demers.
As impresario and producer, he is so at home, it’s hard to believe he hasn’t been doing this his whole life, but Ken also spent a decade as a filmmaker before his love affair with making movies fizzled.
The thing is, Ken falls in love easily. He’s constantly enamoured with good, original ideas and, while working harder than anyone I know, he gives generously of his time to guide them to greatness. His infectious enthusiasm has turned his friends’ stagnant hobbies into delicious door-to-door ice cream deliveries and intimate dinners in an Airstream. More than his wicked sense of humour and unmistakable laughter, Ken’s zealousness for helping good and creative people find success is his greatest feature, and it makes Vancouver a better place.
1. Tannis Ling
As my constant collaborator and friend, this poor woman has the unenviable job of exchanging her good advice for my naive ideations and constant bitching about how the seat warmers in her car don’t get hot enough.
2. The Tank
In high school, my friend drove around in a scrappy, old Volvo that refused to break down even after taking a severe beating on the reg. We called it “The Tank”. A few years ago, I bought this netbook for fifty bucks as a work computer and proceeded to treat it like my friend’s car. This tough bastard has the processing power of a Texas Instruments calculator but I respect it’s refusal to bow out.
In my wildest dreams, I’d enjoy a bowl of congee every morning. So far, my plan is to reverse engineer a 7-11 nacho jalapeno cheese dispenser to have it serve fresh congee.
4. Dim Sum
Brunch is for chumps but dim sum is as forever as Wu-Tang Clan. It remains to be a long standing tradition amongst good friends and family. If you want to me to show up to something, put your money down on dim sum. Just make sure it’s after 10AM.
5. Stack of DVDs
There are stacks of stuff all over my house but the pile of DVDs sitting on my coffee table is the one I reach for the most. It’s a stack that depletes and replenishes without fail. Though I’ve stepped away from making films, watching and thinking critically about them is something of a necessity that Is hard to abandon.
I keep two notebooks. The smaller one fits sneakily in my back pocket for daily notetaking while the orange Rhodia is dedicated to parking and developing ideas.
I cradled this daschund like Pieta at the St. Peters Basilica for about a half hour because he reminded me of Beansprout, the rad pup my sister and I grew up with. I miss a lot of things but owning a dog is up there with the toughest of ‘em.
8. Ken Tsui, age 9
Sometimes I look at this picture and want to say “oh you’ve come a long way, baby.” But I can’t because I’m still that enthusiastic, chubby kid trapped in a moderately athletic adult’s body.
1. What neighborhood do you live in?
I live in Strathcona or colorfully referred to as “The ‘Cona” by no one, ever.
2. What do you do and where?
I create pop-up projects and spread my working hours between a handful of coffee shops to avoid developing a reputation for being a wi-fi freeloader.
3. What are you working on?
An urban agriculture project in Chinatown, co-hosting a Simpsons clip show battle, a roster of collaborative pop-up efforts for 2014 and co-hosting a podcast called On Second Thought.
5. Who are your role models?
Lorenzo de Rita, Andy Spade, Mike Mills, Errol Morris, Doug Aitken, Steven Soderbergh and Celia Rowlson-Hall.
6. What keeps you going in this industry?
Vancouver folks have been pretty generous with their support for letting me do things that I think are fun. Working on something you enjoy is a no brainer but I never take for granted the people that continue to give me the chance. There are also a lot of rad creatives in Vancouver that I want to collaborate with. The opportunity to work with some of them down the line is something that keeps the fire stoked too.
7. If you had a chance to start your career all over again, how would you do it differently?
Invest in a sensible coat.
8. What advice do you wish someone would have given you when you were young?
Doing this kinda stuff doesn’t get you girls, kid.
If you were going to recommend a creative to VIA, who would it be?
Daniel Rincon, David Zilber and Sarah Maitland