Where form meets function
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Craig Redman, one half of duo Craig & Karl, best known for their playful, multi-coloured designs for the likes of MCM, Apple, Google, Vogue and Nike, goes it alone for a solo show at Amsterdam’s The Garage gallery. Entitled “Since Never,” the series of portraits look back to his travels, a snapshot of old and new friends in portraiture, his distinctive style used previously to capture the likes of Kanye West and Keith Haring. Here, we chat to Redman about his latest exhibition, the importance of colour and future plans for Craig & Karl. Take a look after the click.

“Since Never” runs November 1-16 at The Garage Gallery, Amsterdam

How did the initial idea for ‘Since Never’ come about? Can you tell us a little about the finished series?

Back when I first started drawing portraits all the subjects were my friends, I was visually capturing who I was hanging out with at that particular time. I live in a different country now so I don’t get to see a lot of those people anymore and those portraits have become quite nostalgic, a snapshot in time of sorts. Recently I’ve been doing a lot of famous faces, so I thought it was time to re-explore friends or people I’d met recently, whether it’s here in New York or while travelling or online or whatever – the portraits are a nod to those relationships, whether established or new.

-Why portraits in particular?

There is a personal element to portraiture, you learn a lot about the subject when you spend so much time analysing and staring at their face, whether it’s a friend or Carmelo Anthony. You start to notice the slight nuances and gestures that say a lot about the person and I do my best to emphasis and frame these elements. Visually the intention with the portraits is to pare down each face to its most essential parts, kind of like exposing each element with big expanses of flat colour and blown-up geometric patterns that juxtapose each facial component against each other. The heavy black lines then attempt to highlight each of these parts to form a greater sum.

Colour and vibrant tones seem to be central to your work, has this always been the case?

It has indeed. I’ve tried to figure out where it stems from and I don’t know the answer. I’m a rather cynical person so it doesn’t seem to be derived from personality traits, I suppose it’s a completely visual response.

How do you find working on commercial projects for the likes of MCM and Apple as compared to your own personal work? Do you enjoy working to a brief?

I enjoy doing both. I know I’m supposed to chose one or the other but for now I’m enjoying being able to explore my own ideas as well as working collaboratively with brands. The projects Karl and I do with brands are increasingly becoming more art based, whether it’s an installation or more conceptual work so I think they intermix quite well. That may change in the future but for now I’m happy to let it go organically and see where it heads.

Does working collaboratively but in different countries have its advantages?

Karl and I have known each other since we were 17 and before moving to New York and London we’d worked side-by-side in the same studio for a long time. Because of that we know each other super well so the Atlantic Ocean between us isn’t such a big deal. We talk most days on Skype and discuss projects, we’re quite good at making quick decisions about things and respect the others opinion immensely so there isn’t too much back and forth, we just get on with what’s best and make it happen.

What’s next for you both solo and with Karl?

Mostly we have our eye on our first museum show in Seoul in 2015, it’ll be neat to see all the work together in one place. Karl and I tend to have lots of projects on the go – a series of pieces for a school in the Bronx, a collection of sunglasses with LeSpecs, a mural in Shoreditch, ongoing prints with Nike, a new collection of accessories for MCM, artwork for a music festival in Switzerland as well as our monthly illustrations for British Vogue.

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