CRAIG COSTELLO

CRAIG COSTELLO

“As a native New Yorker who started writing graffiti in the ‘80s, I embraced early on the do-it-yourself culture of mixing inks and finding objects, like soda or water bottles, to repurpose as markers. Over time, what I made developed its own reputation within the community.

About 16 years ago, some friends who also wrote graffiti suggested I try to sell it. ‘Who’s going to buy this?’ I thought. But the first production sold out right away, and before long, downtown New York City was covered in KRINK.

The name is both jokey and original: it’s a portmanteau of [my alias] KR and ink.

This came at a time when collaborations were on the rise and, over the past decade, I’ve done a glut of projects with various partners. The products I’ve kept represent KRINK’s illustrative history, which is important to me. In a way, it’s the American dream: a guy who began by doing something once considered illegal and wrong is now sought after for creative inspiration.”

“Silver was Krink’s first color. In the late ‘80s, when graffiti moved from New York City’s subways to its streets, silver became writers’ shade of choice. The problem was that the inks people used, which were made to write underground, faded in the sun. As a writer from the street era, I knew the silver markers used at the time, and expanded on those to create a similar color that wouldn’t fade.”

“These inks were among the first Krink products sold commercially. I bought the bottles at CK & L, a now defunct hardware store on Canal Street in New York City. The labels were printed on inkjet sticker stock and all applied by hand.”

“They look like white out pens, but these have ink in them. [At top] is a prototype signed by TOM SACHS, who uses markers a lot in his artworks. [At bottom] is an actual piece from the limited edition product set Tom did with us in 2010.”

“Tom [Sachs] is super into tools, to the point of fetishization. This is one of 100 docks, as he called them, that we created together and sold on his website.

The markers that comprise it were chosen by him. In addition to the white pen, there’s the classic black marker — Tom’s favorite, I think — and the red marker, with a steel ball tip, that can write on any surface and leaves a very distinct mark.”

“The shoe polish marker, which I originally repurposed from a real shoe polish bottle, was huge. It was my solution to a common problem with regular markers: their tips getting clogged by dirt and dust. The way these are made, the ink flows so heavily through the applicator that the marker is essentially self-cleaning.”

“For various reasons, I removed my name from my work years ago and began doing drips on mailboxes and doors around New York City. That captured a whole new audience, because people saw it less as graffiti and more as sculpture. This is from a limited edition of 500 ‘Krinked Mailboxes’ made with Kidrobot that, after being released, sold out in 40 minutes.”

“The fire extinguishers are a more recent extension of my taking something designed for a specific use and repurposing it as a painting tool. They were particularly important when I began executing more abstract concepts on a larger surfaces.”

“The can is a collaboration with the Spanish company MONTANA COLORS. Europeans have long seen graffiti as art, whereas Americans traditionally associate it with the destruction of property.

Few people in the U.S. would consult a graffiti writer about how to improve a can of spray paint. That’s not the case in Europe, so the technology there today is incredible.”

“I did an edition of silver EAMES chairs with MODERNICA as a follow-up to our first collaboration: a set of five hand-painted drip chairs that got very good press. So good, that long after they were bought, I got a call from someone at VOGUE saying that ANNA [WINTOUR] wanted one.

When I said they were sold out, I was asked if we could make another. Ultimately, I said we couldn’t do that to the folks who bought one of the five. Instead, we produced this model, and VOGUE ran a photo of one of the original chairs as a way of announcing the new project.”

CREDITS

Photography bySania Tharani

As told toAnthony Rotunno

Craig Costello, a.k.a. KR, is an artist based in New York City and the founder of Krink.

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