Reader Offer: Now you can own one of Michael Craig-Martin's stunning artworks

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

In the Seventies, he was a kingpin of conceptual art, the man who turned a glass of water into An Oak Tree simply by stating he had done so. In the Eighties, he was responsible for fostering the talent of the Young British Artists (YBAs) as their tutor at Goldsmiths. His recent works – which abstract everyday items into outline drawings filled in with eye-popping candy colours – have been the subject of major exhibitions as well as appearing large-scale in site-specific spots, on the sides of buildings, train stations and over whole gallery walls. Our cover artist, Michael Craig-Martin, may have recently turned 70 – but he shows no sign of slowing down.

"I've never been so busy," he says. "I try to do things that are very fresh and simple. People say they look like they were done by someone younger than me, but there's a lifetime of experience behind these simple things."

Craig-Martin insists his lifetime's work shows a continuity. He may have moved from placing real-life, everyday objects on a pedestal to painting them – his recurring motifs are quotidian: umbrellas, mobile phones, buckets – but Craig-Martin says he's "trying to find some kind of essence in all of these things. That's why my paintings exist in this funny world, somewhere between a particular object and an iconic version of it".

Recently, a new element has been creeping in, however: words. Independent Magazine readers have a chance to buy a print of one of Craig-Martin's latest pieces, Love/Glove, which is part of his series of 'rhyme paintings'. Leaning against the walls of his north London studio are various others: an outline of a shirt is over-blazoned with the word 'Flirt', while 'Work' riffs off an image of a fork.

"I'm rhyming a word with an image – so there are two things represented," he explains. "The rhyming determines the connections you can make, creates an unexpected conjunction. The conjunction of 'Love' and 'Glove' has very strange implications... one doesn't quite know what they are, there's room for some interpretative manoeuvres. And that speculative manoeuvring is one of the best things about any work of art."

Those words are put on canvas the same way as his drawings, using a flexible masking tape to give clear, repeatable outlines. It's a technique he's been using for more than 40 years: "They're not cartoons; they're very precise drawings, properly proportioned. I'm trying to find a simple but proper description. Then with the colour, I do the opposite. I allow it a completely full rein. It's not naturalistic, it doesn't follow any formula – it's instinctive and subconscious."

Perhaps it's this combining of the rigorously technical with the freewheelingly personal that also made Craig-Martin such an influential teacher. Dubbed the 'Godfather of the YBAs', during his time at Goldsmiths he oversaw undergraduates including Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin and Sarah Lucas... "There was a large group which had an enormous impact; they were all part of a whole new venture that was bigger than any one of them," he suggests.

Although Craig-Martin hasn't taught for over a decade, he is outspoken about how important a good education is: "If you want to teach technical things, you can do that in a class, but for people to be creative they have to learn about their own creativity, and the only way they can do that is one-on-one. You now have vast numbers of kids who get one tutorial a term; when I was at Goldsmiths they had any number they wanted a week. [That generation] got fabulous educations, and so they went on to do good things – but it wasn't a coincidence. And it wasn't just to do with me: the whole system was extraordinarily generous."

Although charmingly polite, Craig-Martin gets somewhat riled at the charging of exorbitant fees for higher education – "which has and will continue to 100 per cent alter the nature of education in Britain". He's gloomy, too, about just what kind of artists will emerge from a system built on the twin pillars of value-for-money and constant assessment. "Kids today don't get the same quality of education. So I find it difficult to believe that the quality of work [being produced] can be sustained."

When it comes to his own future, Craig-Martin's outlook is considerably more rosy. His work keeps him busy and he graciously acknowledges that he's in a very fortunate position. "It's the greatest privilege in the world to be able to keep going. Also, when you get to my age, you relax about a lot of things that made you feel nervous when you were younger – it's a bit late to worry," he concludes, with a knowing twinkle.

Buy an exclusive edition of Love/Glove (2011) by Michael Craig-Martin

The Independent Magazine has secured 20 copies of Love/Glove (2011) by Michael Craig-Martin exclusively for readers at the guaranteed launch price of £450 (normal price £550). The edition, which has been specially commissioned by Counter Editions, is a six-colour screen print on 410gsm Somerset Satin paper.

Produced in a strictly limited edition of 150 by Coriander Studio, London, the print measures 72.4 x 66.2cm, and is signed, numbered, and dated by the artist on the front. They are also available framed (£640) in a white spray frame. The edition is offered on a first-come first-served basis from today, 8 October.

To buy Love/Glove (2011), log on to and enter your special Independent readers' code INDMCM20 at the checkout. Delivery within the UK and VAT are included in the price. Alternatively, you can order by calling Counter Editions on 020-7684 8888, Mon-Sat 10am-6pm. Delivery is by UPS courier and is within 10 working days for unframed prints, and 28 days for framed.

For full terms and conditions about this offer, see the Counter Editions website, telephone 020-7684 8888 or e-mail

Arts and Entertainment
Sir Nicholas Serota has been a feature in the Power 100 top ten since its 2002 launch
Arts and Entertainment
Awesome foursome: Sam Smith shows off his awards
music22-year-old confirms he is 2014’s breakout British music success
Arts and Entertainment
Contestants during this summer's Celebrity Big Brother grand finale
tvBroadcaster attempts to change its image following sale to American media group
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Dales attempts to sell British Breeze in the luxury scent task
tvReview: 'Apprentice' candidate on the verge of tears as they were ejected from the boardroom
Arts and Entertainment
Kate Bush: 'I'm going to miss everyone so much'
Arts and Entertainment
Laura Wood, winner of the Montegrappa Scholastic Prize for New Children’s Writing

Children's bookseller wins The Independent's new author search

Arts and Entertainment
Pulling the strings: Spira Mirabilis

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Neville's Island at Duke of York's theatre
musicReview: The production has been cleverly cast with a quartet of comic performers best known for the work on television
Arts and Entertainment
Banksy's 'The Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' in Bristol

Arts and Entertainment
Lynda Bellingham stars in her last Oxo advert with on-screen husband Michael Redfern

Arts and Entertainment
Hunger Games actress Jena Malone has been rumoured to be playing a female Robin in Batman v Superman

Arts and Entertainment
Tim Minchin portrait
For a no-holds-barred performer who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, Tim Minchin is surprisingly gentle
Arts and Entertainment
Clara takes the lead in 'Flatline' while the Doctor remains in the Tardis
tvReview: The 'Impossible Girl' earns some companion stripes... but she’s still annoying in 'Dr Who, Flatline'
Arts and Entertainment
Joy Division photographed around Waterloo Road, Stockport, near Strawberry Studios. The band are Bernard Sumner (guitar and keyboards), Stephen Morris (drums and percussion), Ian Curtis (vocals and occasional guitar), Peter Hook (bass guitar and backing vocals).
Arts and Entertainment
Sean Harris in 'The Goob' film photocall, at the Venice International Film Festival 2014
filmThe Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Streisand is his true inspiration
Arts and Entertainment
X Factor contestant Fleur East
tvReview: Some lacklustre performances - but the usual frontrunners continue to excel
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Tuttle's installation in the Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern
artAs two major London galleries put textiles in the spotlight, the poor relation of the creative world is getting recognition it deserves
Arts and Entertainment
Hunger Games actress Jena Malone has been rumoured to be playing a female Robin in Batman v Superman
Arts and Entertainment
On top of the world: Actress Cate Blanchett and author Richard Flanagan
artsRichard Flanagan's Man Booker win has put paid to the myth that antipodean artists lack culture
Arts and Entertainment
The Everyman, revamped by Haworth Tompkins
architectureIt beats strong shortlist that included the Shard, the Library of Birmingham, and the London Aquatics Centre
Arts and Entertainment
Justice is served: Robert Downey Jr, Vincent D’Onofrio, Jeremy Strong and Robert Duvall in ‘The Judge’


Arts and Entertainment
Clive Owen (centre) in 'The Knick'


Arts and Entertainment
J.K. Simmons , left, and Miles Teller in a scene from


Arts and Entertainment
Team Tenacity pitch their fetching solar powered, mobile phone charging, heated, flashy jacket
tvReview: No one was safe as Lord Sugar shook things up
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

    A crime that reveals London's dark heart

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
    Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

    Lost in translation: Western monikers

    Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
    Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

    Handy hacks that make life easier

    New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
    KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

    KidZania: It's a small world

    The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
    Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

    'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

    The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
    From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

    Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

    From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
    Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

    Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

    A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
    The 10 best smartphone accessories

    Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

    Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
    Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

    Liverpool v Real Madrid

    Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
    West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

    Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

    Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
    Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

    A new American serial killer?

    Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
    Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

    Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

    Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
    Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

    Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

    Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
    Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

    Wildlife Photographer of the Year

    Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
    Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

    Want to change the world? Just sign here

    The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?