Max Grünfeld | Interview
We interviewed Max Grünfeld, whose works we’ve spotted recently on ArtRebels. Here is her story, enjoy!
Let’s start with a short introduction about your artistic activity. We know that you are currently based in Hamburg, have studied in Zwolle and Barcelona, so there are both Dutch and Spanish influences in your work. When did you decide that illustration would be the core of your career and how did traveling help in this regard?
I have been drawing since I was a child. My brother and I had a little corner with tons of paper and art supplies, where I could sit for hours and days in a row. I have known from round about the age of 8 years, that I wanted to do something with art. So I attended various courses that taught different disciplines of art. I always thought I wanted to study Fine Art, but at the age of 16 a teacher from one of the courses I was taking then, went through my portfolio and asked if I considered doing Illustration.
That was the first time the idea of studying illustration rather than fine arts came to my mind.
‘Sometimes you have to let go, to let it grow’
What’s interesting is I can remember the moment very clearly, a sort of A-ha moment, where I really started to contemplate the option of becoming an illustrator. I started to read, learn and think more about the profession of an illustrator. Until it was quite clear to me that I wanted to Illustrate. I am still very happy with that decision to this day.
Traveling didn’t influence my decision to become an illustrator. Being able to travel did help me with my style and the subjects I portray in my personal work. It also helped me build up a wide network within different countries. Looking beyond your horizon is always good.
Living and studying in different countries, gave me the opportunity to “break free” from the Art School in The Netherlands. Going somewhere new, gave me the opportunity to reinvent myself and my art and experiment with my style. At the Art School in Barcelona, different materials, colors and teaching methods gave me insight to new ways to express myself. The teachers had fresh input and advice that still affects my style to this day. It heavily influenced me and I couldn’t tell you where I would be if I wouldn’t have gone there.
We first saw your works on ArtRebels. Tell us more about your collaboration with them.
I am stoked to be able to work with the amazing people from ArtRebels. They offer a great platform where artists can present and sell their work. I’ve various works, from a digital print to Lino-cut and silkscreened work, online at their website. Soon I’ll add more to their collection. The future might bring some more great projects along.
‘Outer Space’ / Available on ArtRebels Shop
You say that you are inspired by people and, most of all, by the interaction between them. How does this interaction translate in your illustrations and what do you want to highlight through your characters? What about the environment where you place them, to what extent does their world resemble our own reality? We also noticed a lot of nature related motifs. Is there a reason for this?
My parents used to take me a lot on nature trips to the middle of nowhere, on long hiking trips where you would be so far out you wouldn’t come across anyone else. Since I was young I had a big appreciation and love for nature and the power that it contains.
Camping and hiking in a forest, on a mountain, or in a desert, I’ve felt so small in comparison to these endless landscapes. Though I love living in a big city, I definitely need trips out to some peace and quiet once in a while. City life and daily routines disappear and I get to know myself in new and different ways.
At home, I love to people watch and observe what they are doing in everyday life. The kind of character they have, and why they think the way they think or why they do the things they do are questions that I ask myself. Humans are diverse and complicated; in my personal work I want to create story-telling illustrations about how we define ourselves. If I wouldn’t have studied Art, I probably would have ended up studying Social Anthropology.
The environment that I place the characters in is a mix between our own reality and a surreal realm that is filled with symbolism. I use a lot of nature related motifs in combination with human aspects and characteristics. Some of my illustrations are quite anthropomorphic and have varied motifs, patterns, shapes, sights, colors and strange animals. Both people and nature inspire me, bringing them together in my illustrations makes a lot of sense to me somehow.
‘I’ll carry you’
Are symbols and details important to you? Share some insights regarding the themes that you are currently interested in and the elements that you use to reveal your personal vision in your works.
My work is often full of little details and symbols. Illustration offers endless ways to visualize all the depths and layers of what is going on around us in the world. Where as it might take a few pages when I would have to explain it in words. I enjoy that symbolism gives space for interpretation and asks you to think about its meaning.
With all these little details, you can keep looking and discover new things. I love seeing something that keeps becoming more interesting over time.
Themes that I’m currently interested in are adventure, discovering new things, and surprise, surprise; nature.
‘Square’ / Available on ArtRebels Shop
You are working with a lot of clients and publications. What do you believe is your greatest achievement in your relationship with them? Also tell us more about the process behind your illustrations, both editorial and personal, and if there are any differences when you work for editorial projects compared to your personal ones.
There are some similarities as well as big differences between my editorial and personal illustrations. With my editorial illustrations I use my own style within the frame of what needs to be told; I do bend my style from time to time, to communicate the story better. For example, changes like using many colors versus little, illustrating rough versus slick.
I always like to experiment and change things up, while staying true to my work and style.
Having my style come back in my drawings is very important, but so is communication within editorial illustrations. So sometimes a balance between those ideas is required.
Although I love to communicate through editorial illustration, with personal work there is more freedom. I write or draw a lot of my idea’s down in little sketchbooks. When I make personal work I often look at ideas from those sketchbooks and try to tell a story through an illustration. Most of the themes in my illustrations are about the human condition, philosophy, and human nature. The themes stem from my experiences and/or events happening around me or in the world. I don’t only want to draw pretty pictures, I go through a long process and try to convey the emotions that I want to see in the art I create.
What are your top 3 wishes/ objectives for 2015? What about your plans and upcoming projects/ exhibitions/ collaborations?
My top three wishes and objectives for 2015 are:
Number 1: Have an art residency in a different country with an amazing project.
Number 2: Illustrate a children’s book, my own or for someone else.
Number 3: Try to get more Illustration-jobs – and/or exhibitions – overseas, like in the USA.
‘Where the heart is’
In the future, I have a couple of projects and plans running.
There’s an upcoming exhibition on the 6th of December in Copenhagen, called Just Bake.
I am going through the process of organizing an art-residency.
Two friends/ illustrators and myself are talking to a gallery in Barcelona, where we could have an exhibition and also do some silkscreening.
In April, I have a group exhibition in Amsterdam.
Illustration-assignments usually show up last minute, so I couldn’t tell you much more for the year 2015.
Share with our readers an illustration that you think defines you best right now or that you are really fond of.
I did a project that was sponsored by Red Bull a few years ago. The experience was amazingly fun, it paired a musician with an artist and the concept was for the artist to do a live drawing while the musician performed and vice-versa. We were creating a unique piece that was essentially inspired by each other.
In 2007, ArtRebels was founded as a community and network for creatives – artists, musicians, designers, film makers, cultural activists, web designers and event makers. Since then, ArtRebels has evolved into four companies fueled by their ongoing passion to support, promote and share creative and cultural talent, with the mission to create opportunities for both upcoming and established micro entrepreneurs and social projects.
ArtRebels.com is the curated web shop community for handpicked artists and visual designers from around the world, both established and new talents.
All images © Max Grünfeld