Craig Redman and Karl Maier reside in New York and London respecitively but collaborate daily to bring a colourful body of work to life.
The duo has had their bold creations exhibited around the world and have collaborated with clients including LVMH, Google, Nike, Apple and Vogue.
In 2014 Craig and Karl worked on the visual identity for Incu’s tenth birthday celebrations and created a colourful window installation at our Sydney city men’s store. We check in to chat to them about their creative partnership and some of their more recent projects.
Hi guys, when did you first start working together?
Karl: We met in our first semester of art college, where we were studying graphic design, and were partnered up for a project. We’ve worked together in one way or another ever since.
How did the partnership develop?
Craig: It occurred quite naturally. In a creative sense we’ve really grown up and developed side by side. And then we kind of merged into a single entity. There was obviously a decision to work as a duo rather than individually, but equally it’s something that’s always worked and felt right.
Tell us about your collaborative process? Do you tend to work together across each project or do you divide and conquer the workload?
K: It varies. Usually we begin with a conversation to quickly hash out any initial ideas that spring to mind for each of us. We try to talk things through like this until we arrive at what sounds like a tangible approach. One or both of us will then sketch or draw up whatever it is we’ve just spoken about, often there are a few ideas we’re considering. We’ll bandy these back and forth until we’re happy with a given approach and one of us will then finish it off. In truth it’s pretty loose. Sometimes it’s simply a matter of getting a fresh set of eyes on something you’ve been staring at for far too long. We trust and rely on each other’s opinion completely, that’s probably the biggest factor.
How do you navigate working across two different time zones?
K: We’re so used to it now that we barely give it a second thought. In practice we’re on chat every day, speak on Skype and have a shared Dropbox for all our work. Nothing out of the ordinary. On the plus side we get to engage with and draw on two completely different cities and cultures.
The only real downside would be the inherent difficulties of nonverbal communication. Even though we’ve known each other for over half our lives there are still times when speaking through graphic speech bubbles loses all charm. We hang out IRL at least a few times a year though, which we like to think of as putting credit back into the human bank.
Your work seems to live somewhere between the worlds of art and design. What factors would you say determine the classification of each project or are the lines increasingly blurred these days?
C: We don’t see different mediums or dimensions as ‘different’ kinds of projects, for us a poster or a 3 storey installation are treated exactly the same way. Of course there are practical considerations that might alter the outcome but ultimately it’s about the idea. The kind of questions we might ask ourselves when we approach any project, big or small, are; ‘What is the tone we want to set?’, “What will the viewers immediate response be to this vs their long term impression?”, and most importantly: “Will this shoot well for Instagram?” :)
Over the years you’ve created a visual aesthetic that is bold, colourful and distinct. How have you gone about evolving this aesthetic over time and what elements of it do you think will always remain the same?
K: I think it’s mostly evolved as we have, led by our own interests and a desire to keep things fresh and interesting for ourselves as much as anyone else. Colour and a certain sense of humour have always been a part of our work and may be hard-wired into us from growing up in 80s and 90s Australia. What we’ve tried to hone the most though is our own particular point of view, because ultimately that’s what is going to be most unique to us. Hopefully it also allows us to translate our approach into different mediums and new outcomes whilst retaining a fairly singular aesthetic thread.
We last touched base with you in 2014 when you worked on a large scale installation for our 10th birthday in Sydney. Can you run us through some of your favourite projects you’ve worked across since then?
C: Oh wow, that feels like forever ago now. A big one for us was the Kiehl’s holiday collection the Christmas before last. We’d seen their previous collaborations with Jeff Koons and KAWS and always thought it would be a dream project to work on. We also collaborated with Sephora on a beauty capsule collection, which ranged from developing the product colour palette to creating all the packaging. It was really fun, if a little surreal to be in the world of make- up for a while. We also worked on a huge installation in China called ‘Sweet As One.’ The piece was a 607 feet x 23 feet ‘candy carpet’ that stretched along an entire city block. The artwork was created by filling small squares with single coloured pieces of candy and these squares then being added to and multiplied on a grid to create a much bigger piece of work.
What do you guys enjoy doing outside of the studio?
K: Everything and nothing. We’re fortunate to both live in cities that provide as little or much as one desires. Both of us enjoy a good gallery trawl but are equally fond of hammering through a series in two sittings. I think we’re lucky that our job is also our hobby, so there’s never really a dramatic sense of needing to escape from it.
Any exciting projects on the horizon for the rest of the year that you can share?
C: We’ve been working on a large- scale event that’s happening in Berlin at the beginning of September. It’s the relaunch of Bread & Butter, which was previously a fashion trade show and is now being remodelled as a “trend show” open to everyone. We’re also working on an installation in Guatemala for later in the year!