Video: MCW x Max Prentis

MCW x Max Prentis

We take a look into the creative mind of Sydney born Illustrator and Concept artist; Max Prentis. 

Max packed up his Sydney life and made the move to London over 5 years ago, where he has pursued his love for ink and illustration. His works are based around the centralised theme of youth running rampant in a dystopian style landscape that consists of garbage, providing an eery resemblance of what the collapse of humanity would look like. He merges an illustrative approach of bold outlines and solid colour schemes with a comic book style that displays the complexities of his pieces. His talents have seen him develop into one of Australia’s emerging talents currently living abroad. 

Full transcript below:

“A lot of life makes it’s way into my drawings a lot of the time. Like a lot of little pieces and even stuff like garbage. I love garbage in a way. In the way in how it sits and how it tells a story; it’s got little layers of what’s happened just on the street. It just tells this strange little story of what’s happened during the day with garbage and piles of tables and what people have chucked out. I think that tells a great story; like an action that has already happened”.

Max Prentis – Illustrator

Where did your creative journey begin?

I got into art at a very young age, mainly through doodling. My love of art began, I think it started when my parents saw me draw something and they started to take an interest in it; you respond to that by wanting to do it more. I was drawing things like army man or things with guns and strange little aliens and monsters and stuff like that.

Originally I thought painting was the only thing out there and everyone becomes a painter. For the longest time I believed that painting was the only thing you can do, before I began experimenting with sculpting and found I loved it. Like I loved the play; the play between everything.

You can really make anything into sculpture. It’s not just a flat surface, you can play and dance with it and manipulate it. From there I went to illustration school and started using ink. I was seeing all these different artists online and in books that I really liked and the way they applied black or white inks. I really wanted to get into that and really wanted to explore it. Mainly through illustrations so I was doing bits and bobs, I was still trying to find myself but towards the end I just found ink is just where I loved and where my passion lied.

You packed up everything and moved from Sydney to London nearly 5 years ago now. What was the reason for the creative change in environment? 

I really did everything back in Sydney from exhibitions to market places to freelance jobs. Anything I could get my hands on.

When coming to London I’ve definitely developed as an artist. I do create a lot more and I do find it more inspiring being here as well. With the limited time, I do feel like I need to work more, harder and do a lot more work. Back in Sydney it was a bit more lax and you know it’s your home town so you can just sort of relax and do what you usually do. While over here it felt more like a mission. I came here to do illustration.

And what was the fascination to explore ink as a medium?

With ink; what I love about ink is that in comparison to say drawing it is so straight up and down; it’s that contrast. That you can’t backtrack on ink.

It’s straight forward and expressive with me and I’m very finicky with everything like it’s just the decision maker that forces you to make that line and then you cant reverse it and you can’t change it. Instead with drawing where you can sort of manipulate it and move it and take away drawing where need be. While ink it is just solid there and you can’t really change it at all. I love that decision maker as it forces your hand to sort of make that mark.

I also love it because you can get so much from it. You get these little fine hairline drawings or you get these giant big, black lively shapes that you can’t get from other mediums. I just love it!

Interesting. In a lot of your works there are many references relating to garbage/rubbish. Can you explain the deeper meaning behind this theme?

With garbage it’s one of those things that has so much soul. You can tell people have been there. You can tell things have happened there. It’s a cleaner, more straight cut type of feel. It says the machines have built this and that’s really it. It definitely comes from emotion. I also think it comes from anxiety and this is illustrated through the melting of objects; that straining feel.

All artists need to express themselves. If you don’t express yourself, you tend to bottle it up and develop works that are more romantic in feel. If you go down this path all you are really doing is trying to make everything happy, clean and fun. I don’t feel there is much point to it (if that’s the case). So my last works; It relates to a lot of ideas about what’s going to happen in the future. A lot of things to do with mass consumerism. I love the idea of mass consumerist concepts folding in on itself. The collapse of society and where we actually go from there.

Can you provide insight into your creative process?

My process begins by typically writing it down. This can happen anywhere I am; being on the bus or at work or if I just woken up. I always write it down, I jot down the idea; it can be anything. Most of my writings (there are hundreds of them now), they don’t come to light but I read back over them again and I try to pick a good one that visually speaks to me. From there, I usually do a few thumbnails (like six or seven) of the one drawing. If I find one that really, really works I expand it again to a larger thumbnail and then the process begins again where I do a few thumbnails and I work on it and then I’ll redo this size where I’ll draft it up properly. Again it will be that sort of back and forth between ideas, changing it around and then ink will go down and it will tend to take me about a week to do a piece. I’ll add a bit more to the original idea but it tends to stay the same – generally.

This work (refer to video) originally started off with just being broke. That’s where the Chinese symbols came from. I really was doing this thing about growth and regeneration but then it evolved a bit more into death. When I’m talking about the melting themes, it conveys a sense of anxiety. I think it comes down to my fear of death initially before the anxiety washes away (eventually) and it is that idea of growth.

It is just part of life.

What do you feel separates you from other creatives?

What I think makes me different is that I sit in between this idea of comic books and graphic design elements. It doesn’t really fit into either, I don’t really consider myself to be a comic book graphic novel artist and I don’t really consider myself to be a graphic designer in any aspect. It’s not really trying to land on a direct style and I think that just comes from a lot; from my inspirations as well – like a lot of graphic designers, illustrators, typographers and sculptors.

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