Max ZornThursday, September 8th, 2011
Max Zorn is began as a street artist and continues to be one. According to Max, “As a street artist I´d like to keep up a certain anonymity. Max Zorn as a name, 1977 as a birth year and Amsterdam (Netherlands) as hometown is all I can reveal.
Interview with Artist Max Zorn:
How did you start in this field?
I started with classical painting a couple of years ago. I have recently switched to the use of completely different materials to create my art.
Are you self–‐taught or did you have any formal training? If so where did you study?
Yes, I am a completely self-taught artist.
How long have you been an artist and what made you decide to be an artist?
I execute a special form of urban art, using streetlights and display my art in galleries since May 2011. The idea came during a nightly run through Amsterdam. The nice old street lamps with their golden light seemed perfect to be used as an urban gallery. It was probably the endorphins that kicked in after half an hour of jogging which led me to some more or less weird ideas of how to use those lights for my artistic work. The tapes turned out to be the best concept so far.
Can you tell us about some of your work?
To begin I need to explain how I create my work. Instead of paint I only use brown packing tape, which I plaster in many layers on acrylic glass and cut it until one can see a motive. Once you put the tape in front of any given light, it unfolds its shimmering effect. It is only because of this effect that I can use street lamps or lit up windows as urban exhibition, using their light to turn the translucent tape into an illuminating piece of art. As for my motives: I like to catch dynamic moments between people. If it´s the exhaust of aggression in the eyes of a boxer, or a couple having an intimate moment…. I consider a tape good if I could freeze one of those emotional moments authentically.
How would you describe your style?
My style has a lot of reference to the 1920′s and 1930′s, with a touch of American Realism and film noir in it.
How did you first become an artist and why do you continue to be one now?
Making art is a great way to produce something from soup to nuts, according to your own rules and imagination. Somehow, that still satisfies me, maybe because it is a rare experience in times of fragmented work steps. It also allows me to communicate my own interpretations of things, if it´s political, social or just aesthetic opinion. The entire process has something to do with sharing your thoughts but also with the desire to be seen and understood.
What inspires you to paint?
I could name a few things, but the initial and most inspiring one was a girl I was in love with. Believe or not, I´m not even sure if she knows that.
Where do your ideas come from?
Most of the time I use photos or scenes from movies as a basal inspiration and modify the motives to the way I want it.
Can you tell us what your process and method is when you are creating?
I start with a rudimental sketch with a marker on acrylic glass. Then I plaster lines of brown, translucent packing tape over the glass, cutting each layer with a cutting knife and removing the parts of the tape I don’t need. I repeat that procedure until the different layers of tape archive the lights and darks, which eventually create the picture. In combination with the light the tape unfolds its glowing effect.
Please tell us about your technique and what is your preference in materials and why?
I use brown, translucent packing tape that I cut later in the process. Tape is a very thankful medium. It´s inexpensive, weatherproof, it sticks perfectly to the underground and works nicely in combination with light.
Do you choose your subjects or do they choose you?
My mood chooses the topic I want to work on. And for sure I have a certain image of my subjects; but there is always an element of anarchy involved. The tapes and their protagonists never turn out the way I had planned them, sometimes it is better then I imagined it.
How does your location or environment affect your work?
Not much, sometimes I plan a tape for a certain lamp but for my work I just need my utensils. The surrounding doesn’t matter during the process.
What is your thought process when you are about to approach a new design?
Good question, I guess I don’t think a lot while taping, I rather drift within the atmosphere I want to create.
What are you feeling when you are working on a project?
Most of the time I am pretty focused while I work. I surely live with the people I create but not by identifying with them, rather I feel like a spectator observing them.
What is it that inspires you to paint a particular subject?
An interesting person or a great scene I had seen.
What inspires you to create art and how do you keep motivated when things get tough in the studio?
I try to keep going. Most of the time a short break works wonder. If I get completely stuck I have learned to take it easy, after a day or two I continue or if that doesn’t work I just start a new piece.
How have you handled the business side of being an artist?
So far I have been able to avoid the business aspect. Sure, if I want to keep going I have to make some money and I have no problem with earning a living through my art, as long as the money is used to make art and not the art to make money.
What are your latest works about and where are you going with them?
Recently I find myself picturing scenes between different kinds of couples. There is a great emotional dynamic in these situations which I really enjoy capturing.
Are their any historical or contemporary artists that you specifically admire or who have influenced your work?
I never knew why I liked one piece of art and disliked another. There are hundreds of artists I like and dislike at the same time, although I prefer American Realists.
Are your paintings of actual locations/people or are they painted from your imagination?
It´s a mix, I use real locations and people but play around with them, relocate, restructure, change faces etc.
Tell me about your Upcoming projects, activities and or events.
The latest project is to send small pieces of tape art around the world and let people stick them up at places of their choice.
What is your greatest ambition as an artist?
To be able to continue achieving both my projects and my ideas.
What advice would you give a young artist just starting and wondering where to begin?
Well, I guess art can’t be forced. If you have that drive in you, or if you have a great idea, you shouldn’t hesitate fulfill it. It´s worth it, however, don’t take it more seriously then it is.
To View Max Zorn’s Artist Techniques: CLICK HERE
You can contact Max Zorn via: EMAIL