In 2001 he set up Giant Robot Store on Sawtelle Blvd., an area now known as “Little Osaka” for its Japanese flavor. Then came Giant Robot 2, a gallery space, across the street. Later on, Eric opened shops in San Francisco and New York, but closed them to focus on his original location in Los Angeles, on Sawtelle. “Yes, I want cheaper rent, bigger spaces, better transportation (so people can go from one gallery to another),” Eric ruminates. “And easy parking – all those kinds of things. But the art itself, I think the art is pretty decent. Maybe it’s getting better, maybe that means more competition, but it just shows you that there’s something good here. If you’re going to do art in the style I work in, this is the city to be.” And since the start of Giant Robot, Eric and the brand have both experimented and grown. They’ve witnessed Sawtelle bloat and shrink with businesses. But through the whole process, Giant Robot sustains, a West-coast hub for both art and Asian American culture. Eric is behind it.
The zines started after Eric grew disdainful of the UCLA’s Asian student club, which boasted only a tiny fraction of Asians on campus and left the majority behind, without a club. “We didn’t want to be in one, anyway,” Eric laughs. The philosophy of avoiding grouped restriction dates back to Eric’s junior high years, when his family’s move meant he entered a school with few Asians. “There was no Asian American group on campus, so I could make friends with anybody. I always think that’s better than being trapped in a small group… Having an open mind to things is more fun, because there’s more randomness. And randomness is what makes it all work, I think.”