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Claudio Kirac

Artist, photographer and local legend.

There aren’t enough words in the world to describe the sky high levels of inspiration, creativity and general good vibes Claudio Kirac brings to the Gold Coast (but please, read on and you’ll get the gist).

He’s an artist, photographer and designer who has travelled the world to make magic with some of the biggest brands out there but, lucky for us, he calls our golden shores home. Over the last few years he’s worked closely with HOTA, Bleach* Festival and Festival 2018, to name a few, but his most recent project is a little closer to home.

We sat down for a chat with the absolute legend that is CK about his agency Art-Work’s epic new creative space and why the Gold Coast has become a well-oiled arts and culture machine.

How long have you been a Gold Coast local?
I have been on the GC for most of my life, was not born here, but definitely consider myself a die-hard local.

What do you love most about our beautiful city?
The small country town feel with some of the luxuries of a big city. The GC’s connection to nature is one of our most valuable assets and a definite game changer when it comes to quality of life and enjoying where you live.

Tell us your exciting news…
Our agency, Art-Work (AW) has climbed some big mountains in the past few years, from the strength of our collaborators to our internal creative and business mindset, you could say we are growing. With growth comes challenge and change, and your daydreams eventually manifest into something that is greater than you could possibly imagine. So, we have combined all our experience and knowledge, dipped our big toe in, and are creating a physical home for Art-Work, a multi purpose space for Design and Dreaming, right in the growing creative hub of Cronulla and Karen in Mermaid Beach

What will you have going on in the new space?
Our new creative space, the AW World HQ, will be our daily go-to for all of our creative production. It’s a blank canvas of sorts that we can use to experiment, play and grow ideas for the years to come – business in the front and dancing in the back. On a daily basis it will serve as our design office, with space to do photography and video production, contemporary art and creative consultation, with a vision to host exhibitions, industry gatherings and workshops from time to time – the space will be by appointment only, but you are welcome to drop by with coffee, tacos or wine anytime.

Tell us about your career journey so far, where did you start and how did you end up here?
I have always lived and loved art, from a 15 year history working in the surf industry, to jumping out on our own with Art-Work to work on the projects we love, it has been such an inspiring journey. I started AW with my long-term colleague and friend Paul Bow almost seven years ago now, from humble beginnings to trailblazing new territories; we are the perfect blend of creativity and commerce. My wife Laura Strange has brought such a new light to what we do across digital, design and strategy, that I find myself learning new things every day, which is one thing that we, as humans and designers, should never stop doing.

No doubt there have been many highlights, what are some favourite career moments?
The ultimate highlight is everyday when I pinch myself and am grateful for being able to be creative and get paid for it, also travels to far away lands of sunshine and snow and the memories and friendships we create along the way are experiences you will never forget.

Where do you find inspiration as such a creative guy?
I used to devour a lot of print collateral – still do, but much less – AW has an amazing design library BTW. I have to sometimes force myself to look beyond the pages of Pinterest, as it is veritable minefield of collated, curated craziness! These days a calm mind, a jump in the ocean and good verbal download helps to put things into perspective.

What are your thoughts on the Coast’s growing arts and culture scene?
The arts and culture scene on the GC is now a well oiled machine, compared to where we used to be five, 10 even 15 years ago now, the term ‘Cultural Wasteland’ never even entered my mind, although it’s taken a long and winding road to get to where we are now. With independent galleries through to HOTA and ongoing support from government infrastructure, I feel it is now at the perfect place to go next level and be taken seriously, with a community of talented creative hearts and minds to help tell the story.

What else would you like to see happen?
For artists and designers to stay here and embrace the ride.

What’s the plan for the rest of 2018?
We have had ridden a crazy wave this year, all the way from the beginning with HOTA, Bleach* and Festival 2018 through to working on creative content with our favourite locals at Dwell Store. Now over the hump with launching our new space and embracing the neighbourhood vibes we have some super exciting projects on the horizon across photography, video, brand and mural work to round out the year, but not before Laura and I head to the USA for a month long road trip of culture, food and good times!

Best piece of life advice you’ve ever received?
Wait for the moment, but do it now.

Favourites on the Coast:
Beach: From Cooly to the Spit, there’s nowhere like it on this planet!
Cafe: I’d have to throw my favourite Mermaid Beach locals in the hat, the best from All-Time, Hula Girl, Le Cafe Gourmand and Door 50 – you can’t go wrong
Restaurant: LUPO, Itoshin, Harry’s and Justin Lane for the cross section of good local cuisine
How does your weekend usually look? Up for the early or sleep in, depending on what’s on the cards, walk to get coffee and start from there. We sometimes work on Sunday because it doesn’t always feel like work. I like to cook, catch up with family and friends, reset and plan for the week ahead. A good schedule makes for a productive week, so the weekend is the time to reflect and refocus.

HOTA announces $1,000 cash for digital artists

There is absolutely no doubt that good things come out of hard times and it’s absolutely incredible to see Gold Coast businesses rallying around one another, and the public in general at a time when we most need each other.

The latest business to come out in support of those who have lost a significant amount of potential income is Home of the Arts (HOTA), our premier art and cultural precinct who have obviously also been adversely affected by the state of the world.

Despite that though, the team at HOTA have announced a new artists support fund that will see them offering up to $1,000 cash for projects that take no more than one week to develop and deliver.

Criena Gehrke (CEO at HOTA) said that artists are the lifeblood of HOTA and without them, there is no Home of the Arts and they need to know they are supported now more than ever. True.

It’s called the Rage Against the V(irus) Fund and it’s designed to turn downtime into a spark for innovation, using digital technology.

For Gold Coast based artists, it’s the perfect opportunity to follow through on an idea they’ve had swirling around for awhile, develop something a bit left of centre or experiment with something completely new. Creativity with no bounds, what a brilliant idea.

If you’re thinking of applying, the projects must have an online outcome, which could include a podcast, audio file, Facebook live event, video content, streaming, Instagram or other digital platforms.

The opportunity is open to artists, collectives and organisations, or artists who have a strong connection to the Gold Coast, with successful applicants to be notified within seven days of applying.

What are you waiting for friends, get out there and make something while you have some time up your sleeves.

Expressions of interest for the HOTA Artist Fund – Rage Against The V(irus) are open from Friday 20 March to Friday 15 May, with all projects to be completed by Friday 29 May, 2020.

Good one HOTA.

Words by Kirra Smith

LIVIN launches epic mental health awareness photo exhibition

Today we’re here to talk about checking in on our mates, igniting conversations and the realities of suicide rates in Australia. Heavy but necessary, particularly right now because September is suicide awareness month and today, September 12th is R U OK Day.

We lose over 3,000 people every year to suicide, which is the leading cause of death between Australians aged 15 to 44.

The premise of R U OK Day is simply reaching out to our mates, asking the question, listening to the answer and igniting conversations around mental health.

Which is exactly what LIVIN aim to do with their photo exhibition Collective Minds, launching at Robina Town Centre today and showcasing the work of 20 local photographer’s’ who were asked to submit a photo representing their take on mental health.

The exhibition can be found opposite Peter Alexander within the centre and features world-renowned photographers (and Gold Coast locals) Sean Scott, Melissa Findley and Trent Mitchell.

By Luke Marsden - Drop in the Ocean

Each image is a unique interpretation of the photographers’ own experience with mental health and the entire exhibition aims to ignite conversations about mental health and perpetuate LIVIN’s mantra that ‘it ain’t weak to speak’.

These pieces will be available to purchase on Collective Minds dedicated website an online silent auction running throughout the duration of the exhibition.

All money raised will go directly to LIVIN, which will allow them to continue to expand their support network throughout the Gold Coast and Australia via their LIVINWell program.

Since their beginning in 2013, LIVIN have made it their mission to encourage the community to speak up about mental health, offering vital support services and advice so that nobody has to suffer in silence.

The exhibition runs from September 12th until October 13th and will be open 7 days a week.

The Collective Minds gallery been designed as a place for quiet contemplation so pop down there when you get a chance and spend some time thinking about your own mental health and what you can do to ignite a conversation in your community.

LOCATION: Ground floor (opposite Peter Alexander), Robina Town Centre, Robina
WHEN: September 12th to October 13th

Words by Kirra Smith

Mermaid Beach fave’s new bottomless brunch

In case you’re new here, let it be said that there is a whole lot happening in the world of new venues on the Gold Coast and if you’re not new, you’re well aware.

Are you aware though, of the very good things some of the (very slightly) older venues are up too? Prepare to be enlightened friends.

Mermaid Beach venue FuFu opened just over a year ago all pastel pinks, textured walls and good vibes aplenty. It’s the work of talented local gal Morgan Walsh who dreamed up and then created the space from her (obviously quite active) imagination. We loved.

As of recently though, things are a-changin’ at FuFu and it’s a pleasure to bring you the news.

First and foremost, a bottomless brunch is launching in the coming weeks complete with Lemongrass Spritz’ and Mimosas plus bites from the brand spanking new menu, which we will now discuss.

The eats have been completely overhauled with a new modern Asian, share-style of dining now the order of the day. Think light, nourishing dishes with a funky twist (as is the way of Morgan’s venues) like Vietnamese Pancakes with prawns and pork, Korean Bulgogi Tacos (YUM) and Barramundi and Crispy Sticky Pork Belly with apple salad.

It’s a refined, flavour-packed list of dishes also featuring the Asian-style curries, noodles and baos you know and love. Except better.

The interior has been revamped too with candy-coloured accents replaced by a low-lit, moodier vibe, lots of hanging greenery and velvet high benches to liven the vibe of the space.

If you’re keen to check it out but prefer the comfort of your own space (same), the takeaway menu features some pretty mouthwatering burger options so you can pop your head in, appreciate the newness and be on your merry way.

The overall revamp feel is less laidback diner and more sexy destination dining and we love it a lot.

Stay tuned for more details on the bottomless brunch and while you’re waiting, get down to Mermaid Beach stat to sample FuFu 2.0.

LOCATION: 2375 Gold Coast Hwy, Mermaid Beach
HOURS: 12pm to late Wednesday to Friday and 7am until late weekend

Words and photos by Kirra Smith

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