Today we chat to Aaron Craig, one third of the force behind Stupid Krap, a new collective where you can buy all your favourite prints online, and how he ended up working with SK.
Tell us about Stupid Krap. When did it start, who’s behind it and what do you do?
Stupid Krap is an online destination that releases exclusive limited edition, hand finished and one of a kind artwork weekly by the world’s best street, graffiti and contemporary artists. On top of that we also curate regular exhibitions, have hosted art documentary premieres, sponsored a slew of worthwhile Australian events like Wonderwalls, Threesome Perth, Hit The Bricks in Newcastle, Analogue/Digital Creative Conferences and Look Hear. We also held our very first art prize this year in the form of the Red Book Art Prize. Australian pop artist, Ben Frost, started Stupid Krap back in 2005 as a way of selling and promoting low brow and street art independently of the conservative gallery systems of the time. Since then it has grown and evolved into what it is today. We’re focused on giving both promising and established artists another platform to present their artwork to the world; fans, enthusiasts and collectors alike. The SK team is pretty small. There’s Ben (Frost), Matthew Haynes and myself.
How did you become involved in Stupid Krap and what courses and jobs lead you to this path? I met Ben earlier this year at an exhibition on the Sunshine Coast. I had already planned on launching a limited edition art company, but we got talking and after a few weeks of mulling over ideas and scenarios we (Ben, Matt and me) all decided to relaunch SK in its current form. My first tertiary introduction to the creative community was when I studied interior design about 10 years ago. I didn’t end up loving it so I quit and studied Fine Arts at the University of Newcastle, only to switch to a degree in Visual Communication Design that I completed at QCA in Brisbane. Before SK I didn’t know a lot about business management, and I didn’t know all the intricacies of running an art company and what exactly goes into it. Most of it has been a ‘learn as you go’ type of experience but its been absolutely invaluable. Diving in head first is scary but its also the most rewarding when you can look back and be proud of your achievements and know you have learned from your mistakes.
Can you name your top 5 artists you’ve taken on recently and a bit about their stories?
I’m really stoked on all the artists we have worked with in 2013. A couple of the releases that I have really loved this year though are from some of the up and coming talents. Michael Cain, Mica Still and Dan Withey. Michael Cain was the first release we did after our initial relaunch back in May. I fell in love with the pieces we released (SuperTed & Spotty from the BBC Cartoon SuperTed) as soon as I saw them. Michael hand finished them for us and they came out amazing. He is an artist and graphic designer from Melbourne I believe. Since his SK release he has been going hard. Every day I see a new animal study or new painting on his Instagram and see his name pop up in group shows a fair bit. Mica Still is a NZ based artist who’s work is both vibrant and sensitive. I remember watching a video where she talked about her work in relation to her dreams and she seemed so timid, yet she is involved in the street art scene in Wellington and painting big in public definitely takes confidence. I guess both of those gentle and daring sides come through in her extremely radiant work filled with bears, wolves, lions and tigers. I had the pleasure of meeting Dan Withey down in Adelaide at Analogue/Digital this year. The guy is a barrel laughs. His paintings are filled with intriguing, eccentric characters and use such a colourful palette that they are hard to stop looking at. I really loved that his release with us showed the raw wood poking through and that it broke the standard print dimensions. If you’re ever in Adelaide, go have a beer with this guy. Taylor White is another of our recent releases that I am super impressed with. She took out the Red Book Art Prize this year and came down to Adelaide for A/D, where we released her edition and had a little presentation for her. It was pretty intimate but was a nice moment. As the Red Book Art Prize goes from strength to strength it’ll be nice to remember her as the first winner. The other notable releases for me personally are the technically intricate illustrations that Sam Yong, Paul White and Fuzeillear have produced for their editions. Having that much attention to detail is impressive no matter what the subject matter. We already have a bunch of fantastic artists collaborating with us in 2014, so I can’t wait to start the new year off with a bang.
Tell us about your upcoming exhibition in Maroochydore, ‘Different Strokes’.
‘Different Strokes’ is our last print exhibition for the year so we figured we would host it locally on the Sunshine Coast and round out 2013 in style. The show is at Just Us Gallery on Dec 13 and will feature every Stupid Krap release of 2013. Being an online art store, it’s sometimes difficult to portray certain features of the artwork for what they are in the flesh. There are just some details that are impossible to show through a screen. For us, our print exhibitions are super important so that our audience can see the work for its full value; all the finer details, the texture of the paper, the hand-embellishments, the signatures, the numbering, the slight differences and the professional framing. I believe local artist, Fuzeillear, will be making an appearance and Ben Frost will be back in the country as well, so there may be a few surprises in stall. Make sure you make the trek up to the Sunshine Coast if you are close by.
How do you think we can help bridge the gap between students and industry more in Australia? There’s no better solution than a hands on approach. Being a student and being proactive goes a long way to getting a more realistic idea of how things function in the creative industry. Events like Analogue/Digital, Look Hear, Semi Permanent and Ag Ideas provide a huge amount of insight into all facets of the industry. Students get a step by step guide of how people they admire got to their current position, all the mistakes, the lessons learned, the gambles and the successes. Getting involved in exhibitions and industry nights are so important as students get to meet and interact with people that they could one day work beside. From my experience the Australian creative community is pretty tight knit anyway with a ‘we’re all in this together’ type of mentality, so don’t be afraid to approach someone you admire and introduce yourself. Also to state the obvious, getting a job before you graduate or interning obviously gives a more realistic view of what to expect. What are your plans for SK in 2014? Going bigger! More Australian exhibitions, introducing international exhibitions, new products, more opportunities for up and coming Australian artists, more international artist releases, new events and growing the Red Book Art Prize.