As an artist, Craig “KR” Costello saw a need for efficient graffiti mediums. As a businessperson, he solved the hole in the market.
Graffiti artists in New York were all about mobility, painting subway cars through the City with their signatures sprayed on them; then, turning to walls, tunnels, and objects as their canvases. KR explains that during the 80s graffiti was ‘‘an attitude’’ and the culture revolved around DIY materials. Paint was stolen, markers were made, and unconventional tools were used due to the lack of economic resources, making the ‘’sharing and stealing [of tools] necessary for the creative process’’. Artists were faced with the challenge of messy homemade markers, and homemade inks that faded under the sun.
In the early 90s, KR moved to San Francisco, California where he studied its booming graffiti scene and experimented with various tools and mediums on the streets. Water bottles, white out pens, and shoe polish markers were re-purposed for the sake of “looking to your environment and finding your tools’’. Eventually, he began making his own ink (KR’s ink, hence Krink) and shared his product with the community of artists around him.
Eventually, KR’s ink could be found everywhere in the City, on any door, wall, or mailbox. Alife, an art supply store asked KR to bottle up Krink to be sold, turning his “creative project’’ into a business plan.
In an interview for Vice Magazine in 2012, KR discussed the interest of business owners in public art, in which they collaborated with artists from around the globe to do walls in their communities. Tiffany Tanaka, founder of the Honolulu-based gallery, Loft in Space, discussed the importance of KR’s contribution to the artist community in Hawaii, and the way she perceived art as a motor for social change, and its impact on Hawaii’s economy. As KR had helped to expand the artistic community as there was a lack of art galleries and exhibitions during that time.
KR transitioned from a struggling artist in New York City to the face behind a brand that aims to improve artistry, maintain affordability, ‘’pay fair wages, and support local economy’’. His scrappy attitude and holistic thinking has worked for him; he has been sought for major arts and business collaborations with Marc Jacobs, Nike, Casio, Absolut Vodka, Modernica Furniture, and many more. He is a prime example of someone who has bridged the gap between the interests of artists and the success of a business. Through his consideration and understanding of the best ways to create useful and affordable tools to make art, he has built a thriving business, drawn the attention of other business owners, and enhanced artists and local communities.
In January 2018, Krink announced the reissue of the original 8oz. silver ink, hand-filled and labelled in a glass bottle.
Photo: Craig ''KR'' Costello in His Studio for Refinery29 by Atisha Paulson