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Just Kronk It

Just Kronk It

by Daniel Friedman / 06.05.2010

Kris Hewitt’s real name has all but been abandoned by everyone with the possible exception of his mom. As far as we are concerned for the sake of this profile his name is Kronk. Kronk is the archetypal illustrator / designer – equal parts geeky and cool. The last couple of years have seen the Cape Town-based artist propelled from relative obscurity right onto the designer A-list, first in bibles of indie cool such as One Small Seed and (as well as bibles of wannabe indie cool like SL), then by getting the opportunity to work with ultra-hip designer toy company Kidrobot and now by collaborating with Nike on a project which sees them working with top graphic designers from around the world. Kronk designed a collection, including hoodies, jackets and t-shirts, which will be worn by Nike-sponsored members of the national team.

Kronk’s designs include a crest, a mascot and a typeface. His crest sees the traditionally old-fashioned coat of arms get a modern facelift and combines the logos of all our PSL teams. His striking mascot is a two-headed creature combining the two most important parts of any soccer experience – the player and the fan.

In person he has a dry sense of humour and a deep voice that sounds like it must have been coloured by countless packs of cigarettes. The real reason for the way he speaks, though, was actually a 2002 motorcycle accident (not his fault) which Kronk was lucky to survive. “I burst both my lungs and they had to remove half my vocal chords”, he says.

“The accident made me think”, he says. “There’s the cliché when you almost die, that ‘your life flashes before your eyes’, that sort of happened, and it put my life into perspective, I realized that I hadn’t accomplished what I wanted to”.

“It made me a better person, less afraid to ask people for things. For some reason it also made me more emotional – I cry in movies now. And it made me grow up a bit. I don’t think I’m invincible anymore.”

Visual artists are not usually thrust into the limelight or put on the same platform as Soccer stars. When I met Kronk, though, he was being treated more like David Beckham than a local designer – surrounded by flashing lights and television cameras and journalists hovering like vultures.

Designers also aren’t often known for their love of sport, but designing soccer gear is a natural project for Kronk, who has always been genuinely football crazy. “I’m a huge Manchester united fan. As a young kid I really liked red. Also, my family has Scottish roots and Fergie is a Scotsman. When I started supporting them it was before they started winning titles…”

Kronk has local soccer heroes too – particularly Chiefs founder Kaizer Motaung. “I did a project where I had to study players from the 70s, and I fell in love with Motaung and his story. He started off playing for Pirates, and later went to play with Atlanta Chiefs, alongside legends like Pele, and he managed to be one of the top goal scorers in the American league. When he returned he started Kaizer Chiefs and based their logo on the Atlanta Chiefs. I find it amazing how he broke away from the powerhouse that was Orlando Pirates and started a rival team which went on to become as successful and famous and important”.

Ithumeleng Khune rocks the Nike Sportswear x Kronk collaboration

And Kronk is even a bit of an athlete in his own right. “I used to do a lot of archery, my family is big into it (my dad is ranked 16th in the world) and I was actually SA champion 2 years in a row. But I was in my teens, when chicks parties and friends take up all your time. I didn’t take it as seriously as I could have”.

But the world of archery’s loss is the art and design world’s gain. “When I went to study I got really passionate about design. It’s an art form that’s very logical on the one hand, with rules and structure, but very creative and crazy at the same time. My personality has both these sides to it and design allows me to find a balance between the two. It’s the best thing in my life after my family and my girlfriend”.

Check out the teaser for the Nike Sportswear x Kronk colab Below:

Check out more of Kronk’s steez here.

Join Nike Sportswear’s Facebook Group here.

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RESPONSES (19)
  1. JM says:

    Big ups to Kronk! Did a small project with him many moons ago; he is an excellent designer.

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  2. Sara says:

    Beautiful stuff

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  3. heino says:

    this is the kind of stuff i like to see. great work!

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  4. correction says:

    SL will always be cooler than One Small Seed, and even with that weak attempt at snark, this piece still reeks of PR drivel.

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  5. judy says:

    wow mahala. guess you gotta make ends meet…but nike. fuck.

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  6. with judy says:

    Is this an opinion piece? Is it an arts review? Is it a person profile? Is it an advertorial?

    I am confused as to the answer to the above, but I do know I don’t like the taste that’s left in my mouth.

    The irony of a call to action to join Nike Sportswear’s Facebook Group on a site like Mahala would be amusing if it wasn’t so distasteful.

    Perhaps some thinking is required around the ideas of judgement, trust and reputability.

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  7. Andy says:

    agreed on the SL vs 1SS… And Kronk is cool. He illustrated this site.

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  8. Myles says:

    Man, you people bitch about everything! If you dont like the article, dont read it

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  9. Andy says:

    OK Judy… you raise some interesting questions. We obviously need to make money off this magazine in order to pay our writers, illustrators, photographers and print the magazine and send it out for free. Advertisers like Nike help us pay these bills with the splash page currently running on the site…

    But let me just say Mahala’s content is not for sale and never will be. There are times when we have an advertiser who asks for some “added value” by getting us to write about their products. Most of the time we refuse, unless, as in the case of this article, the story fits into the gamut of what we cover on Mahala anyway. Kronk illustrated and designed most of this site. And now he’s been chosen to develop a special South African football supporters range for a big global sportswear brand – sold around the world. We think that’s relevant. Especially in the light of many of the platforms around the World Cup being given to the old, usual suspects.

    If you have some other ideas as to how we can continue to fund our work at Mahala – without advertising… we’d be glad to hear them.

    Andy

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  10. judy says:

    Yeah I like Kronk. Whatever it takes to keep the site going I guess. Voorspoed!!

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  11. Anonymous says:

    its a bit of a pain in the ass that each time you click back to homepage that ad pops up…

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  12. the bear's woods says:

    kronk’s awesome, the full page popup ad that you can’t close, not so much.

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  13. the bear's woods says:

    oops i said awesome…meant to say fantastic.

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  14. Nathan Zeno says:

    Saying “not so much” is like saying “the thing is” or “pretty much” it’s worse than saying awesome.

    Just so you know…..

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  15. Mahala + Nike = ? says:

    @ Andy. No bones about advertising revenue. We all have to make ends meet. What I would like to know is how Nike advertising stacks up with this previous post on Mahala:

    http://www.mahala.co.za/kif_or_kak/street-poetry/

    The editorial on this previous piece stated that the sentiment expressed could be Mahala’s own slogan (cheap not equal to free, no one should be owned, etc). Not sure how that fits in with Nike’s practise of sweat shops in third wold countries.

    You can take the view that clients’ business is nothing to do with you, but that doesn’t strike me as the Mahala way. Your advertisers say a lot about you, by association.

    I wonder what the left-leaning Mr Edmonds would have to say about this.

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  16. alison says:

    I’m a barmaid here in Germiston. I sleep with him occasionally. Brandon is not happy with ‘invasive corporate branding’. He said that at breakfast. Oh he also said to say that he’s a tender magnificent lay. (Which is occasionally true).

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  17. Julian says:

    Yah Andy. Got to agree with ol Judge Judy…Not cool on this review…smacks of old socks stuck inside a Nike shoe…Advertorial styles.

    Would have digged to see some more design work too.
    This article should have been under sports? Not art.
    Yes its tough out there but keep your nose clean ma bru! It will pay off.

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  18. up-the-bum says:

    nothing ‘mahala’ about this but cool design work

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  19. BINKY says:

    love this mans work- great interview too!

    i wake up every day to an 80 x 80 printed canvas “cassette pirate in sneakers with gloves on under the galaxy” of his and it makes me smile every day. he should visit jozi and sell his loveliness to this side of sa…
    x

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