Interview with Kris Andrew Small
Could you tell us a bit about yourself?
My name is Kris Andrew Small and I am an Artist & Designer based in Sydney. My work is a mix of lucid abstract textural pieces, kinetic type based works and photo collages.
Where did you grow up?
Sydney & Brisbane (Australia)
What initially inspired you to pursue a career in art and design?
I originally wanted to design cars, but as it turns out it was way too technical for me, so I studied art in School and found a bunch of artists that I really could relate to, like Keith Haring, Jonathan Zawada, Jean Paul Goude. I wanted to make work like them and a lot of them came from a Graphic Design Background, so it seemed like the natural choice for me to go into design.
How would you describe your creative process?
Fun, haha, but I think a lot of my work has a message, so they are a bit more serious, normally I know what I am doing before I even start. However for my abstract pieces, I just start and make what comes out naturally based on what has been happening around me, so normally I end up making so many things, and then I start culling and mixing things together and I finally find something that works and that I’m happy with. I always like to sleep on a finished work though… just so I can look at it with fresh eyes in the morning and make sure I am happy with it.
Does your city and surroundings influence you as a creative and individual?
Definitely, Sydney is luckily surrounded by a lot of nature, I'm not sure if that influences my work so much, but it really affects my mood which in turn makes me more excited about making work.
What do you struggle with the most in terms of working and living in a city like Sydney?
I think Sydney (and Australia for that matter) in general can be quite conservative… I find that hard to work with that sometimes.
Could you tell us about your recent publication Much Excite?
Much Excite, the idea started off because I do make a lot of work all the time for myself and I was searching for a place to put it, so I decided to make a zine. At the same time as this, I was starting to get super into the idea of masculinity, I was really confused by it because I felt like I didn’t relate to it at all… but did that make me any less of a man? So this was a way for me to challenge that and say hey, ‘being a man’ has literally 1,000 variations and I don’t necessarily agree with the current definition or perception of masculinity. There is a piece in the zine that is called ‘Femme is Masc’, and it is basically saying that a super femme man is just as valid a definition of masculinity than any other.
The responsibility of the council in every city is to provide a solid foundation of design, art and cultural facilities, is that evident in Sydney?
I very much agree with this, Sydney as a city council is actually pretty supportive, there are loads of grants, funding and opportunities for creatives. There are some really amazing galleries in Sydney too that are funded by the city.
Do you think it is also the responsibility of the designer/creative to improve the quality of peoples lives in their city?
Definitely, Being a designer gives you a voice to make a statement and stand for something, for things to be fair and better in your surroundings. I work hard to make work that I think stands for something and that I am proud of, that I think is making a contribution to society for the better, or at least inspiring someone else to make work or to take action against something.
Can you tell us about any current or future projects that you are particularly excited about?
I have an exhibition in London in July, so I am incredibly excited about that, also my last exhibition I only had about 2 weeks to put it together, this one I have 6 months, so it will be quite a bit more intense haha. I have a bunch of client work as well to do and I am also super eager to start working more with fabrics.
What is the one thing you can’t live without in Sydney?
If you could add or change something about Sydney, what would that be?
A tunnel that linked it to Europe.
Describe the perfect day for you in Sydney.
A morning swim at the beach with a thermos of coffee, then maybe breakfast in Surry Hills, a stroll around town and have a look at some galleries. Maybe an afternoon ferry trip and dip at the beach, followed by dinner in China town or at the pub with my friends, I’d throw making some work in there as well, cos I genuinely enjoy what I do.
If you could choose any artist/creative to collaborate with, who would that be and why?
Jean Paul Goude, if you haven’t heard of him you would know him or his work, he did all of Grace Jones artwork in the 80s. But he’s an incredibly amazing artist, he’s been one of my main influences for the longest time, so to have the chance to work on a project with him would be incredible. I love the humour and absurdity that he adds to his work, its as if its all made in another world that is kinda of like the more fun version of this one.
What do you do to switch off?
Go to the beach.
Sometimes people relate a specific smell to the city they live in or the place they grew up, does Sydney evoke a personal smell to you?
Hmmmm, For a big city Sydney has surprisingly fresh air, because it's by the coast, you get a lot of clean air coming in from the ocean. Although that's not a smell exactly, you definitely feel and notice it when you come back from being away.
What is your favourite time of the day?
Probably around 10am, when I’m having coffee.
If you weren’t living in Sydney and could choose any city to live in where would that be, and why?
Paris, I don’t know exactly why, I just love it, it's super cool and every time I go I just find more and more things I like about it, I also would love to have an exhibition there.
sydney by kris andrew small
A selection of places in Sydney - recommended by Artist & Designer Kris Andrew Small. See all of Kris' favourite places here