On the cover: Creep by Craig & Karl
What can you tell me about our cover art, Creep?
Craig: Karl and I have been working together for over 20 years now, and recently we’ve been asking ourselves “What’s the most minimal way of getting a message across?” Creep is us attempting to strip away as much as possible and leave things to the imagination. When we see gestures like a hand creeping around a door frame, that allows the viewer to create their own narrative around it.
How did you start working together?
Karl: We were studying graphic design in Australia and in our first term we were put together on a project. We liked working together, and it carried on from there.
Craig: At a certain point I won a green card to the US and it was too good an opportunity to pass up and Karl moved to London. We didn’t really have a plan about how it would work living so far apart, but we started doing what everyone is doing now – having video chats and found out that it worked really well. Here we are 14 years later.
Karl: It’s interesting watching the world come around to virtual working because of the pandemic, because we’re so used to it and it doesn’t even register anymore.
NFTs (non-fungible tokens) have made headlines recently and you’ve started creating your own. Do they have the potential to revolutionise the art world?
Craig: Who knows how this is going to pan out? But I actually don’t see the existing art world and the NFT world coming together. Yes, Christie’s sold an NFT by Beeple for $69 million, but it was purchased by hardcore NFT collectors, not art world collectors. The NFT world exists in its own parallel universe; people in the traditional art world don’t understand it, they’re not part of it and they can’t control it.
Karl: The technology itself is great because it stamps things and adds a sense of ownership to the creator.
Craig: That’s part of the appeal of NFTs for artists. We have been selling NFTs on the Foundation platform and you get 20 percent of the fee every time they resell. I also think that’s part of the NFT world that the art world particularly hates. Traditionally art collecting is a stock market, right? Collectors buy work and yes, sometimes they enjoy owning it, but it’s also about how much you can flip it for. Collectors don’t want to give 20 percent of that money to the artist.
What’s been the most satisfying project you’ve collaborated on?
Craig: More and more of our projects, particularly in Asia, are installation pieces because it’s about how the public can interact with the work, i.e. take selfies with it and promote it through social media.
Karl: Increasingly the brief is literally “create a thing that people can take a photo in front of” and you try to flesh that out into something more substantial.
Craig: It’s interesting to figure out scale and sizing, and how people can literally fit into a piece to be photographed.
As Australians, how has it been watching the pandemic play out so differently there than in the US and
Karl: I mean obviously Australia lucked out to some extent in the first wave of the pandemic because of where it is. We’re also conditioned to keeping things out – have you ever tried bringing a bit of fruit into Australia? So for the government to announce they are going to shut the borders and have all these controls, most Australians just went, “All right. We’re kind of used to that anyway.”
Craig: I’m desperate to go back, but you have to go into quarantine for two weeks, you have to pay for the hotel yourself, and they’re not letting non-Australians into the country so our partners can’t go. It’s like, “Ah, I guess I’ll have to visit later.”
You can see more of Craig & Karl’s work and buy NFTs at craigandkarl.com
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