Interview - Craig Redman

Lucy Feagins
Lucy Feagins
7th of October 2011
'Love' illustration by Craig Redman & Karl Maier
Darcel Disappoints at Louis Vuitton - illustration by Craig Redman
Lost & Found illustration by Craig & Karl
Dream Machine illustration by Craig & Karl

Craig Redman is a NSW born, NYC based, OUTRAGEOUSLY talented illustrator and designer.  He is, in fact, a good example of one of those insanely talented Australian creatives who ends up leaving us to go and be Australian and talented in another country.  You know, like Kylie.  But we'll give Craig the benefit of the doubt and assume he still has an Australian accent. :)

Craig runs a cross-continental design firm with Sydney based collaborator Karl Maier, ingeniously named Craig & Karl.  Together this prolific pair work on design, identity and advertising projects for clients both here and in the US.  Their impressive client list includes Nike, Apple, Vogue, Microsoft, Converse, MTV and The New York Times.  As you can see here and on their rather amazing website, their work is characterised by bold solid colour, intelligent humour and, well, it must be said, serious cool factor.

Outside of his commercial work, Craig has also created a character-based blog which is so famous and so brilliant, I think 'cult status' would be an understatement!  Darcel Disappoints documents the daily disappointments of Craig's semi auto-biographical character Darcel.  It is so so truly hilarious you will be instantly hooked!  Darcel has won many hearts worldwide and has spurred a number of high-profile collaborations with brand such as Parisian concept store Colette, and Chanel, dahhhling.

Aghhh.  The ex-pat talent.  Amazing.  Seriously awesome work.

Tell us a little about your background -  what path led you to graphic design and to basing yourself in New York? I was always turning my name or initials into a logo as a kid, or tracing Albert Tucker paintings and colouring them in. I used to carry a gridded pad around with me to redesign family members homes too - so if I was at my Nanna's I'd redesign the living room and decide which walls should be knocked down (hypothetically of course). Not surprisingly I ended up studying Design at Griffith University in Brisbane where I lived for a while before moving to Sydney and eventually New York.

What have been one or two favourite clients / commercial projects in recent years?

The project I did for Nowness last year was pretty amazing. I attended all four fashion weeks (New York, London, Milan and Paris) and illustrated my observations and experiences - everyday for 28 days.

Darcel Disappoints does fashion week

My ongoing work with Colette is also really fun, we’ve collaborated on a ton of projects, from lighters to skateboards, candles to exhibitions, even a pop-up with Chanel.

Darcel Disappoints at Colette!
Darcel Disappoints product collaborations with Colette

Whilst you’re based in NYC, you collaborate on most design projects with Karl Maier who lives in Sydney. How did this collaboration come about and what are the pros and cons of collaborating across continents!?

Karl and I meet on the first day of University and we’ve pretty much been working together ever since, whether it was part of our old collective Rinzen, or in our new guise Craig & Karl. Having someone on the other side of the earth is actually very handy, while one is sleeping one is working, it’s like a 24hr sweatshop!

Aside from your work for Craig & Karl, you are the creator of the AMAZING blog Darcel Disappoints. Darcel now has an international cult following and a fan base all his own! What originally inspired you to create Darcel - is it true he is semi-autobiographical? Also, what do you think it is about Darcel that has won so many fans?

I think Darcel is very relatable, that’s why people get into him. He’s not a fantasy character who lives in rainbows and makes friends with daisies and butterflies, he’s very grounded in reality. He lives in a shitty apartment, he lines up for coffee every day, he gets lonely etc. I think everyone can find something in Darcel’s life that’s also in their own.

He is indeed semi-autobiographic, pretty much all of the things Darcel does I do, though he does them in a more exaggerated way.

Darcel Disappoints gets autobiographical

Which other designers, artists or creative people do you admire

Can you list for us your current top 5 go-to resources across any media for creative inspiration?

Google Images is all you need.

Illustration for The New York Times by Craig & Karl

What would be your dream creative project?

I want to Darcel-ise everyday gadgetry, like a phone, or a laptop. Redesigned, brightly coloured, super simplified.

What are you looking forward to?

I have an exhibition of my portraits in Milan at the end of September, then another a week later in Ferrara (an hour and a half from Milan) so it’ll be nice to spend some time in Italy.

Darcel Disappoints Fashion Week portraits (I heart Tavi!)

NYC Questions

Your favourite New York neighbourhood and why?

Each area has it’s own character and consequent pro’s and cons but today I’ll say Greenwich Village, for no other reason than it’s where I happen to live.

Your favourite New York shop. Or should I say ‘store’?

The Gagosian Store on Madison Av, Upper East Side.

What and where was the last great meal you ate in NYC?

I had the roast beef sandwich at The Smile today, it was pretty good.

Where would we find you on a typical Saturday morning?

In a coma.

New York’s best kept secret?

The giant concrete Picasso sculpture hidden just above Houston, nestled amongst the strange Silver Towers complex.

Illustration by Craig & Karl for NYC Restaurant Week

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