As his CV reveals, Billabong Art Director Claudio Kirac was encouraged by his parents to “get a real job” when he told them he wanted to be an artist. After short-lived stints as a house cleaner, dish washer and customer service operator at well known fried chicken franchise, this true contemporary renaissance man now spends his days drinking with Eagles Of Death Metal front man Jesse ‘The Devil’ Hughes, making picture books about the erogenous nature of cuisine, and photographing pro surfers in fantasy beach locations straight out of The Blue Lagoon. It turns out being an artist is a real job – and a really kick ass one at that.
PART ONE: EDUCATION, CAREER HISTORY & EXTRACURRICULAR
1980 – 1997
1992 – 1993
Graduated Senior High School Certificate
Blowing surfboard blanks in a Foam and Fibreglass factory
Interior decorator house painter
Dish washer at a Chinese restaurant that actually has some of the best food on the Gold Coast
1996 – 1997
Private house cleaner
1996 – 1997
Started FusionArt skateboards and T-shirt company with the help of NEIS (New Enterprise Incentive Scheme – a commonwealth government program to help eligible social security recipients into self-employment.)
1995 – 1998
John Howard’s Professional Surf Team.
Duties included: morning surf, midday surf, afternoon surf. Driving down the coast looking for waves. Afternoon skateboarding sessions at Pizzey Park. Every two weeks I had to hand in a special piece of paper to an office for some reason..?
Diploma of Graphic Design
Morrison Media advertising artist
Started an in-house position with Billabong
1999 – Present
Art Director and Photographer with Billabong and Vonzipper.
Duties include: graphics concepts, boardshort fabrics, swimwear fabrics, placement prints, all round art direction and madness. Fashion and lifestyle photography for Billabong Mens ad campaigns and Vonzipper campaigns and lookbooks.
2000 – 2006
ABCK (Amber B, Claudio Kirac) art shows, art pieces, events, zines, books, Undergold!
Published ‘Para el Sexo di Alimento’ foodsex photo book with Amber B under moniker ABCK
2006 and 2008
Semi Permanent keynote speaker at Sydney and Brisbane events
Published ‘Infiniteye’ art and photography book under Claudio Kirac
AGDA keynote speaker at TALK event in Brisbane
Adobe keynote speaker at Adobe roadshow Brisbane and Design Heroes online forum
1994 – 2010
Various articles, reviews and interviews published in numerous publications including: Monster Children, YEN, Dazed&Confused, Tokion, Artillery, Our People, SLAM, Riptide, Movement, Black+White and Stab.
PART TWO: THE INTERVIEW
How did you first get into design – why was that the direction you chose? I was drawing and visualising from a very early age, and I just used to say to my parents, ‘I want to be an artist’. They said ‘get a real job’. After many years of not even having a job I got given a break that’s helped me get to where I am in my professional career… Through a lot of hard work though mind you.
What’s been the highlight of your career so far? The people, the places, the laughter, the tears and plenty of beers.
What has been your most surreal or crazy moment? The islands, Tavarua, Tahiti – picture postcard stuff for real. And also standing on stage in front of 2000 people with all eyes on me, accidentally dropping numerous ‘F’ bombs and ‘C’ bombs whilst talking about design and unrelated topics.
What’s been the worst job in your life thus far? Laying pavers. I use my hands too much, I hate dry hands and I really hate laying fucking pavers!
Have you experienced any defining pinch-yourself ‘I can’t believe I’m getting paid for this’ moments? Shooting portraits of Jesse ‘The Devil’ Hughes in his hotel room drinking, smoking. we got given half an hour with him. he took 4 hours then invited us to stay all night.
Have you reached your ultimate career goal yet? No.
What advice would you give to people looking for a career similar to yours? Know your history, look to the future but live for today.
Did you always know you wanted to work in design? Yes.
Was there ever a certain person or defining moment that influenced you as a person? ‘Yoda’, ‘Gizmo’ or ‘Stay Puft’ the Marshmallow Man. I think Susanna Hoffs changed me forever as a young man (Susanna Hoffs is the best known member of Eighties pop group The Bangles).
What are the day-to-day highs and lows of your job? Good creative people to share ideas with is definitely a high. Looking outside and the weather is perfect and you know you got a deadline and won’t get out til it’s dark… that’s a low!
If you weren’t working in graphic design what’s another career path you might have taken? Opera singer
If you could trade places with one person for a day who would it be? That guy i see going for a surf at 10am and the waves are still good!
Any regrets in your career history? No regrets – if anything pisses you off just deal with it, get around it and make it better. Don’t dwell.
All Images Provided by Claudio Kirac