The Interview Series // 53

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Hey! Remember interviews? Yeah. It’s been a while. But don’t worry. They’re back. Meet Craig Redman and Karl Maier. (http://www NULL.craigandkarl NULL.com) They’re ridiculously talented creatives, originally hailing from Australia, now living in New York and London respectively, but collaborate daily to create illustrations, design, typography even film. Having exhibited across the globe, they’ve also worked on projects for likes like Google, Nike, Apple, Vogue and The New York Times! Lucky for us they had time to have a chin wag with our girl Tessa Chong. (http://cargocollective NULL.com/bytessachong) Enjoy.

Jnr: Firstly, ten million other aspiring designer/illustrators must tell you all the time that they are jealous of your career, and they want to be doing what you’re doing. We all want to know how you got there, but let’s start at the beginning… What were you like as kids? Always drawing and interested in art since you were ankle biters?

Karl: Predictably, yes. My grandmother started taking me along to her painting group when I was about 4 years old and I loved it. Drawing and tennis were pretty much the two things that dominated my childhood.

Craig: Yeah my dad is a weekend painter, so I had the oils out at an early age too. I also remember sitting at my Nana’s when I was 9 or 10 with a gridded pad deciding which walls should be knocked down to open up the space, or how to squeeze in another bedroom. I seem to recall ordering flooring samples too.

Jnr: It seems you guys have been quite lucky in being able to do work that allows for a lot of variety and creative freedom. How hard do you think it is to build up a business/reputation that facilitates that?  Most of us junior hacks feel at the mercy of clients and suits and creative directors, and only dream of that kind of creative freedom.

Craig: Don’t worry, we’re at the mercy of creative directors too. Really it’s all about forging your own identity, if you have something that you can call your own (a style, a colour, whatever it is) then it makes it a lot easier to take charge of projects and it makes it much more difficult for creative directors and clients to meddle too much.
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Jnr: Was there ever a moment in your career where you were like “what the fuck am I doing? I’m not sure I want to be doing this..” – or was it always a pretty clear cut path for you?

Karl: We feel pretty lucky that it’s been a pretty clear path for both of us from the very beginning. We met in the first year of art college and have been guiding each other in the same direction ever since.

Jnr: You guys are very hard working and prolific, how do you balance work with a social life? Are we all just wasting too much time on instagram (http://theworstofinstagram NULL.tumblr NULL.com/) and Facebook? Give me an example of a typical working day in the life of Craig and Karl.

Craig: Well, in New York everyone works like dogs, so social life is usually centered about late meals rather than meeting at the pub at 5:05. And for us work is fun, it’s basically our hobby and we’ve got it down to a science where we can streamline projects so they don’t drag on too long. We’ve been doing this for a while, to get stuff done it’s just a matter of being practiced enough to make quick, sensible decisions and to stick with them.

Jnr: What advice would you give to people just graduating from a design course? How do you carve your own path? Is it best to work for other people for a while or go straight out and do your own thing?

Karl: I think it’s a good idea to work with other people in order to learn the ins and outs of managing projects and running a business. Lord knows we had no idea when we graduated. In terms of going out on your own, I’d advise doing it when you’re young when you have boundless enthusiasm and—vitally—are adept at living on next to nothing! Whilst it’s never a great idea to work for free, it is good to contribute to projects, publications or exhibitions to get your name out there on your own terms. Then the budgets will hopefully follow.

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Jnr: What do you think of Australia as a creative country? Do you think moving cities has been instrumental in the type of work you do and the clients you have been able to get? I mean, just looking at the list of stuff you’ve done… you’ve got both sides of the Atlantic covered!

Craig: Everything about Australia is great, except maybe making a living as an illustrator, ha. Of course it’s possible but it can tough keeping consistent work coming in over time. Being in New York and London allows us to be a little more niche with what we offer, in fact the more obtuse we are the better, something that we didn’t find in Oz. We used to think it was ok working from somewhere else and still being able to work for international clients but it doesn’t really work like that, clients and creative directors want you close by.

Jnr: Some of your work reminds is reminiscent of Howard Arkley. Particularly the use of colour, pattern and outlines.  Do you think that’s a bit of subconscious Aussie art influence happening? What are your main influences?

Karl: Such a compliment! Our influences are all over the shop, it could be composition of a Renaissance painting or something that Nene Leakes says on Real Housewives that triggers a new idea. We’re into: PONPONPON, Urs Fischer, Peter Max, My Bloody Valentine, David Hockney, 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.

Jnr: Craig, tell us about the whole moving to New York thing… it’s an amazing place but hard going, right?

Craig: Yup, it can be very hard. Especially the first year or so when you’re struggling to find an apartment, open a bank account etc. If you can push through thou it’s definitely worth it, you really do feel like you can achieve anything you want here.

Jnr: What’s your favourite thing about New York?

Craig: The secret and giant Picasso sculpture hidden amongst the brutalist Silver Towers designed by I. M. Pei, it’s one of few places downtown that isn’t a clusterfuck and has, God forbid, grass.

Jnr: Karl, How do you find living in London? What made you decide to move over there? There’s a lot of the British sense of humor visible in the design, advertising, and illustration. Do you feel “Britishness” has influenced your work at all?

Karl: Aside from its unending feud with the sun, it’s great! It was largely a “why not” decision rather than for any particular reason. I came for a Summer and realised how simple it would be to shift my life here. I’m not sure what influence it’s had on my work, there’s nothing my terribly conscious of if there is. If anything I’ve found that aspects of my life in Australia have come up to the surface since departing. Palm trees for instance, I’m obsessed with them.

Jnr: What is your favourite thing about London?

Karl: Wimbledon and the Barbican.

Jnr: Craig, Darcel Disappoints (http://www NULL.darceldisappoints NULL.com/) is quite a cult phenomenon now. How did the character come about? Is he a bit of an alter ego?

Craig: A bit? He is wholly my alter ego. He was born when I first moved to New York, I decided I wanted to start a blog to remember all the annoying observations I had and it kind of flourished from there. I’ve been helped along greatly by Sarah at Colette, she’s been a great supporter and consequently we’ve done a bunch of product collaborations and exhibitions there which helped Darcel become something bigger than just a whiny old egg.
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Written by Junior
Originally posted on: 01/09/2013
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