Based in Sydney, Kris Andrew Small’s work is a joyful explosion of colour, typography, pattern, and collage. He often takes societal issues and channels them through loud and abstract visuals. That’s not to say his work is heavy, though, in fact, his portfolio is one of utter exuberance. This idiosyncratic merging of techniques and themes features on any number of mediums, from posters to campaigns, packaging, zines and everything in between, and has seen Kris collaborate with clients including Nike, Apple, Dazed, Die Zeit, Adidas Originals, It’s Nice That, Channel 4, WeTransfer, Reebok and more. He’s also exhibited internationally at institutions like the V&A in Dundee and MAD in The Lourve, Paris.
At the heart of his energetic and dynamic work is a message of empowerment and support for the LGBTQIA+ community, and resistance to the hyper-masculine society he experienced growing up. He finds comfort in all the facets of his identity and reality through creating and emboldens others to do the same. Inspired by the likes of Keith Haring and Jean-Paul Goude, artists who have shaped his perception as a creative, he uses his practice to uplift and educate, and provides a voice for those unable to use theirs. In his often abstract patterns and illustrations are hidden messages of acceptance and self-love, of being true to yourself and allowing that to guide your artistic vision.
A creative teenager, Kris studied graphic design and worked in advertising before making the leap to pursue his artistic practice. It was while working in advertising, and out of the frustration that caused that he first began to experiment with the abstract patterns that now form the basis of his striking artworks. They provided catharsis, a means of communicating how he felt, and still do to this day. Expressive, unencumbered and kinetic, the aesthetic of Kris’ works also reflects his approach to creating as he constantly searches for new techniques and processes to bring into the fold. In turn, Kris has turned his hand to 3D illustration, animation and even product design.
A major facet of Kris’ work is typography, which he combines with abstract visuals and collaged photos; a union that has become his signature. Swaying between serious and playful idioms, all of his type is hand-drawn and created without inhibition or restraint. Rather than adhering to grids, guides or rules, Kris instead treats letters like textures and yet another means for him to build his singular style.
The amalgamation of illustrative techniques and graphic design principles is what makes Kris’ work so distinctive and sees him rewriting the very definitions of the disciplines. In converging so many techniques, he has forged a style all of his own; one that rejects formality and embraces self-expression. Not confined to the boundaries of any specific creative output, instead, Kris constantly finds new and innovative canvases; be it a shoe, a car, or a watch, his work is defined by its very fluidity and his creative ambitions know no bounds.
– Written by Ruby Boddington