Introducing the Sydney-based artist creating explosive kaleidoscope collages, and featuring in our Summer 19 Omega Zine.
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing, we partnered with Swiss luxury watchmaker Omega – whose watches Armstrong and Aldrin wore during the Apollo 11 Moon Landing – for a dreamy music zine included within the Summer 19 issue, spotlighting four artists breaking new ground. Also featured was visionary artwork from 4 incredible illustrators.
Explosive billboard lettering. Acid neon tones. Kaleidoscope abstract collages. We sit down with Sydney-based artist and designer Kris Andrew Small…
When did you first get interested in art and illustration?
When I was maybe around 15/16, I realised I wasn’t really good at many other things at school, and I found all these artists like Keith Haring, Kaws, Jonathan Zawada and Jean Paul Goude. I found something that I could relate to and figured that if they could do it there was no reason I couldn’t, that was of course a little naive, but I learnt over time that if you really work hard and be patient, things will come eventually.
What was the first thing you drew?
I used to draw lots of cars, I used to design my own, I think I even had my own made-up car brand. I really wanted to design cars for a job, but I found out you had to study maths and science and I just really wasn’t interested or very good at that, so that ended quickly… Instead I decided to do become a designer and eventually an artist.
Which artist/illustrator influences you the most?
Keith Haring, hands-down, not only as an artist but as a human being. The way he made his work so accessible to everyone, but still had a really deep message behind it all. Also the open nature he had around his sexuality, especially in that time when it was not as accepted. He would never shy away from talking about LGBT issues in his work, I respect that so much and hope I am carrying a similar message in my work.
Where do you pull inspiration from?
Literally anything, I don’t think I have any one thing. Today I was lucky enough to go to Centre Pompidou in Paris, that was insane, I make sure I go every time I’m in Paris, they have the most insane collection of work and every time I go there I find a new artist I get super obsessed with. Most of my friends work in a similar field to me and they inspire me a lot as well! I really love seeing what they are up to and how they are evolving their own styles.
How would you describe your style?
I think movement is probably what sums it up the most, that and colour. I think I play with those the most to create what I do. I find it hard to describe it because I make crazy textures, and type works and photo collages, so there is a lot of mediums, but I guess the colour and the movement are what ties it all together.
How has your style evolved from when you first started?
Oddly, the work I make now looks really similar to the work I made when I first started. But I had a big break in between, I think I needed to go out and properly learn what the best way for me to execute it was. I needed to learn how to make sense of all the madness and make it accessible to people.
Tell us about your favourite piece that you’ve created.
I have a few, obviously whatever the latest thing I have made is my favourite, but then I have a bunch of other ones that have meant a lot to me at the time, or have come back to me at some point. Right now I have 2 pieces that are my fave, both were in my show in London, one was a type piece called ‘Boys Like Boys’. I felt like people really related to that which made me like it a lot more. That and a piece called ‘Wild Night’, that was a screen print I made with my friends in Bangkok. It was really bright and weird and crazy and I kind of felt like it summed up my life at the moment.
What are you working on now?
Well, I just finished up my exhibition in London and before that I had 3 massive projects, so for once I have a little bit of free time, but I am working on a zine in the mean time, I’m also going to the US to work on a sculpture project there, so even though I’m kinda having a little bit of a holiday I will still work on some bits. I just did some work for a Danish label that showed in Paris for fashion week, that was so fun to go there and meet the designer I worked with and to see all the work in person.
What do you want people to take away from your art?
I have a lot of messages in my work and hopefully that inspires people to stand up for what they believe in or what they feel is right. Hopefully my work also inspires people to make work that is not so standard or pushes things a bit. If nothing else maybe I hope it just makes them happy, even just for just a moment.