Just Kronk Itby 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”.
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.