Kate Mothes from www.young-space.com sat down with Max Kauffman to ask about inspiration, process, and challenges.
Thrilled to share the work of Max Kauffman whose imaginative canvases pop with bright colors, particularly a stunning combination of blues and coral-pinks. I fell for his work immediately, especially the deep cradled canvases where he extends the painting onto the sides. Both abstracted and hedging at illustration, Kauffman’s work is lovely on a small scale and large — notably on a house mural shown above! More details on that and other work can be found at the link after the Q&A!
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Hello Max! Can you tell me a bit about how you began painting? What inspired you to start?
I started painting in high school. I had been doing ceramics but was failing miserably at the wheel. So my ceramics teacher taught me painting and gave me a grade on that instead. It clicked! I then went to school for ceramics, and came back to painting with watercolor. After school I just kept with it….
Do you have any particularly strong influences?
Strong influences from all over. Right now a bunch of pals get me going as well as more traditional folk work. Music is probably my largest influence.
What is your process like, or a day in the studio? How do you begin a piece?
My process is ever changing- sometimes I’ll start with scraps of ideas or just a phrase or loose chatter on a piece… sometimes there’s a completely ready mock that I reference. I let my mood/impulses dictate that for the most part.
You’re from Indiana and have a connection to Chicago, but you currently live in Oakland. Has it been important to you to get out and explore different places? How have your experiences influenced your work?
Exploring has been incredibly important for me-both for work and my own personal life. Being able to see a place with new eyes and to get out of a comfort zone does so much for perspective (again, in personal as well as work life). Having relationships with galleries/collectors that encourage my experimentation and have a trust in what I do is a hugely successful feeling.
You’ve been navigating the art world for a little while, but are still young and exploring new directions and opportunities. What is the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome so far as an artist?
Biggest challenge for me personally is context and understanding. I feel my work doesnt translate well to the internet because of its many subtleties, so its something that when seen in person comes across exponentially better.
Is there a moment that sticks out to you as your biggest accomplishment or feeling of success?
A single defining moment for me was when I first made the leap towards full time art making. It was scary, but that fear has and continues to push me to continually better my practice. This summer marked 5 years of art as my sole source of income. I had been doing marketing for an edibles company (like marijuana edibles) and had wonderful support from my boss there for pursuing my practice.
What is something that you know now that you wish you would have known as an art student, just getting started?
I wish I would have known of the concept of mentoring- to have someone in your corner, encouraging you is such an amazing feeling.
Do you have any upcoming exhibitions or projects you’d like me to share?
Upcoming I’ll be curating a show in Portland late January at Stephanie Chefas Projects, and in March I’ll be in a 3 person show in Chicago at Vertical Gallery.