Naked City Guide


Claudio Kirac


Hails from: MNM (Miami/Nobby/Mermaid)

It’s a bit of a mission to give the concise DL on Claudio Kirac’s career, but here we go. Some 20-something years ago, the photographer/artist affectionately known as CK came to the Gold Coast via an innocuous, surf-devoid NSW township called Queanbeyan. After stints as a house painter, dish washer and design padawan, the CK trajectory launched with a skateboard company, a collective named ABCK and Undergold, one of the city’s flagship DIY art collectives. We’re pretty sure this guy’s most rewarding moments revolve around surf and paint, but CK owns up to some pretty snazzy career highlights like creative direction and photography for Billabong, guest lectures at Semi Permanent and Analogue/Digital conferences, two published art books plus interviews and artwork published in Monster Children, YEN, Black & White and more. CK takes some time out from collabs with Rabbit + Cocoon and Nine Lives Gallery to offer up some sage words for Naked.


Naked: We’re pretty stoked by this photo of you with a spray can and a cat suspended in mid-air. Tell us about some of the maddest things you’ve done in the name of art, and also whether the cat survived the shoot. 

Claudio: Haha! Yes! The cat did survive… he is Gustav, one of the craziest cats you will ever meet! Serious.

Art is my life and my life is one big art show. I absolutely love it! I’ve been known to rock through Cavill Mall in nothing but a pair of hot pink bike shorts and Nike Air Safari ’87s… I have also thrown guitars off Miami headland, walked the beaches with my ghetto blaster in puffer jacket and hi tops, made pyromaniac explosions with Jamie Whincup and hung out with my blow-up dolphin Trevor while running in my Speedos on the North Shore of Hawaii. All in the name of art…

Back in the day you co-founded Undergold – since then we’ve seen No Waves, tinygold. Lmtdspace and many more. Could the Gold Coast become a prominent arts city based purely on grassroots events, or does a little government/corporate sponsorship go a long way?

The advent of artist run spaces and initiatives like Rabbit + Cocoon is amazing. As an independent gallery in Coolangatta, Comb Art Space is excellent too. We will see a crop of galleries and spaces appearing on the Gold Coast over the next few years, definitely, but these can only survive with the interest and enthusiasm of the people and supporters, and people buying art and enjoying the shows for all the hard work that artists put into them. Sponsorship always goes a long way, and we should never shy away from support, be it monetary or contra. It’s never ‘selling out’ as a lot of people would think. Onwards and always upwards, but the wonderful thing is that we are already there and have been for a long time.

Are there any aspects of Gold Coast culture you’d like to preserve from development? Any that need a kick in the bum?

The Gold Coast used to have such an amazing original surf culture – well, loosely based on Waikiki, but a much more free-spirited and truthful heritage. Some of these elements still exist, and some are getting bulldozed on a daily basis. But the extraordinary people and characters of our culture are the beating heart and soul of this city and we can never lose that. We are still the home of amazing surf, surfers and surfing – we should be very proud of our pristine beaches and lust for life. I get to travel for inspiration and photography quite a bit of the year, and I always miss home halfway through an overseas project. We have the best, and I mean the best natural playground right here at our feet.

Arty people always seem to have arty friends – tell us about some talented Gold Coasters and how you found each other. 

I started my professional career as an artist many, many years ago and I’ve always associated with crazy creative people from skateboarders to musicians, painters, performers and beyond. I first acknowledged this on a world stage, right here from our own backyard, with the Undergold crew in 2003, and formed a partnership with ABCK back in 1999.

Right now it’s more exciting than ever with creative people embracing all modalities and expressing themselves with tools and outlets we would have only ever dreamed about, from the likes of Nicholas Chalmers, Troy Archer, DUSC and Loretta Lizzio, through to flavours of photography from Trent Mitchell, Alana Hose, Thor Engelstad, Jaimee Keyer and Ali Mitton. These are all people I share ideas with and close creative conversations on a regular basis. Not to mention Kiel Tillman and the Art Harvest stable of artists, it’s of a world class standard beyond anything we have ever seen, and it’s growing at a rapid rate.

And in parting…

Early next year I have my first ever solo show of artworks entitled DreamLand at Comb as part of the Bleach* Surfing the Fringe festival. I am very honoured and excited about this. All proceeds will be going to Philtron for Phil Ransley.

Keep loving and growing this tremendous city we live in, and be proud to be from the Gold Coast. We have got the best of all worlds right here, and it’s always been right here. Just say it and it will happen!