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

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Arts and Entertainment
Place Blanche, Paris, 1961, shot by Christer Strömholm
photographyHow the famous camera transformed photography for ever
Arts and Entertainment
The ‘Westmacott Athlete’
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv Some of the characters appear to have clear real-life counterparts
Brooks is among a dozen show-business professionals ever to have achieved Egot status
Arts and Entertainment
A cut above: Sean Penn is outclassed by Mark Rylance in The Gunman
film review
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in I Am Michael

Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the movie 'Get Hard'
tvWill Ferrell’s new film Get Hard receives its first reviews
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: David Cameron (Mark Dexter), Nick Clegg (Bertie Carvel) and Gordon Brown (Ian Grieve)
tvReview: Ian Grieve gets another chance to play Gordon Brown... this is the kinder version
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in the first look picture from next year's Sherlock special

Arts and Entertainment
Because it wouldn’t be Glastonbury without people kicking off about the headline acts, a petition has already been launched to stop Kanye West performing on the Saturday night

Arts and Entertainment
Molly Risker, Helen Monks, Caden-Ellis Wall, Rebekah Staton, Erin Freeman, Philip Jackson and Alexa Davies in ‘Raised by Wolves’

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special

Arts and Entertainment
Game of Thrones will run for ten years if HBO gets its way but showrunners have mentioned ending it after seven

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
Mans Zelmerlow will perform 'Heroes' for Sweden at the Eurovision Song Contest 2015

Arts and Entertainment
Elizabeth (Heida Reed) and Ross Poldark (Aiden Turner) in the BBC's remake of their 1975 original Poldark

Poldark review
  • Get to the point
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.

    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
    Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
    Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

    The only direction Zayn could go

    We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
    Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

    Spells like teen spirit

    A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
    Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
    Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

    Licence to offend in the land of the free

    Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
    From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

    From farm to fork in Cornwall

    One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
    Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

    Robert Parker interview

    The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
    How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

    How to make your own Easter egg

    Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

    Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

    Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
    Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

    Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

    The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

    Cricket World Cup 2015

    Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
    The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing