Craig & Karl interview


Working with a heap of iconic labels, publications and institutions like Nike, Apple, Louis Vuitton, Vogue, The New York Times and the Bavarian Opera, while also putting together their own exhibitions, the dynamic duo of Craig Redman and Karl Maier have become a global pop-art sensation. They add humour and colour to the art and fashion scene wherever they go and have garnered themselves an army of fans as a result. Whether it's culture, fashion, film or politics, Craig & Karl can whip up a vibrant and fun piece of graphic art at the drop of a hat. Their muses have ranged from the likes David Bowie, Jay-Z, Beyonce, Carmelo Anthony and Hillary Clinton, with the duo giving new, punchy twists to the iconic faces.

What's remarkable is that the Aussie college chums produce their work from different parts of the world. Craig lives in New York and Karl lives in London. They collaborate, co-ordinate and work in two separate time zones. Time Out chats with the guys to find out just how they make it all work as they launch a new collection with fashion label MCM in Hong Kong.

With an ocean apart, how do you make it all work?
Craig: With the modern wonder of Skype! A lot of the time we're each managing different projects and checking in, discussing ideas, getting feedback and moral support as we go along. Other times we are both heavily involved each step of the way. It just depends on the particular project. It works because we know each other well and we listen to and respect each other.

Where do you usually get your inspiration from?
Karl: Our influences are pretty eclectic, from Ponponpon to Urs Fischer, Peter Max to My Bloody Valentine, NeNe Leakes to David Hockney, The Renaissance to Memphis Design and John Baldessari. There's no conscious decision to head towards one thing or another. It's just our personalities loosely guiding us in a direction.

Which one of your collaborations has left a deep impression on both of you?
C: The portrait of Obama on the cover of New York Magazine to celebrate him winning his second term was a real highlight. The combination of the man, the moment and being on the cover made it very special.

K: Our 72dp mural is another one we're really proud of. It was great to create something on such a large and immersive scale. And the work we're now doing with the Bavarian Opera in Munich is also very satisfying – although we did think it quite strange they should want our crazy, pop stylings for the opera.

Have either of you ever thought of presenting an installation in Hong Kong? They seem to be all the rage these days…
C: Sounds like a great idea!

Tell us about your recent collaboration with MCM. Can you walk us through the process?
K: The collection is called Eyes on the Horizon and is a nod to the way we work – in two different cities across the Atlantic – so it was nice to be able to add a personal touch to the line.

C: The aim of the collection is to evoke this sunny optimism, kind of like recalling sun-kissed vacations and the youthful excitement of an endless summer. The artwork itself focuses on playful eyes peering through pairs of sunglasses, while inside the glasses amusing and abstract forms appear to add a sense of fun to the collection. There are also splashes of colour and summer iconography like the palm trees and water reflections that bring an additional sense of wonder to the bags and accessories.

How would you characterise your art aesthetic?
C: We create colourful, bold works that are filled with simple messages executed in a thoughtful and often humorous way.

Do you have a favourite piece?
C: From our collection, we love the Cognac Visetos document holder!

What do both of you do to relax? Any guilty pleasures?
We're lucky enough that our work is our passion, so consequently our downtime is spent visiting galleries, reading up on art and design, and experimenting with new ideas for our work. Art and design are the things that excite us most in life.

What can we look forward to?
C: We're very excited for our collection with MCM to be released internationally. We've also been working on a poster for British band The XX, a sunglasses collection for Le Specs, our monthly contribution to British Vogue, a portrait of Jay-Z for Vibe magazine, a project with amazing New York architectural firm Architecture At Large, and several artworks for group shows in Portland, Madrid and London.

Interview by Arthur Tam

MCM x Craig & Karl Available at MCM, Entertainment Bldg, 30 Queen's Rd C, Central, 2117 3955;


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