Introducing Max Knicker
Can we start by talking a little bit about your background?
Early on, outside of my studies, I began to paint and draw with friends, organising small exhibitions. I grew up in Nuremberg, a city in the south of Germany, where I studied Communication Design, and it was around this time that illustration began to interest me more and more, and so I decided to take the leap and move to Hamburg – after the bachelor’s degree – and study for my Illustration MA.
Your work is fluid, colourful and has a painterly style; how would you describe it?
I think in surfaces rather than in lines. I like to work with many colours, contrasts and patterns, and incorporate a lot of detail so that you can still discover something on the second view. When I work for a client, I adapt to the circumstances, so it also happens that I often work completely in black and white.
Is there a commission or project you’re particularly proud of to date?
A friend of mine was asked to create a workshop for Adidas and gave my portfolio to his contact. I ended up working with a few other creatives in small groups. The groups were from different countries and also had different professions. It was interesting to work in such an environment and to develop ideas with people from such diverse backgrounds. I created a kind of comic for them. The images were then presented in a film. It was funny because it was not the typical stuff I normally do as an illustrator.
Freelancers often struggle to get the balance with career versus downtime – what do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?
For me, it is more the process of working itself that helps me finding ideas, but of course, somehow everything you see, or what you are surrounded by can be a source of inspiration. I like to listen to 80’s disco funk, and am always inspired by vinyl covers and their aesthetics. I also really appreciate the exaggerated staging of such bands, their costumes and dancing… the whole show in general! I’m also really into movies from the 80’s such as King of Comedy and After Hours by Martin Scorsese.
Can you describe your studio?
The house where I work has a flat roof, and I sit right under it. My room is very small, but I have a big window facing upwards, so I have perfect light all day. Unfortunately, I do not really have the space to work on the computer and paint at the same time, so my workspace looks quite different, depending on what I’m doing. On my desk I usually have coffee, a few books, and a good mood.
I like to be more experimental, embracing the process of being more open and spontaneous.
Most creatives have specific tools they favour in their professional work – what might we find in your toolkit?
For clients I prefer to work digitally with a graphic tablet, so I can easily make changes and remain flexible. In my own, more personal work, I like to be more experimental, embracing the process of being more open and spontaneous.
What are your aspirations for the rest of the year? Do you have any bucket list ideas you’re itching to tick off the list?
I would definitely like to start my master’s thesis and also stage an exhibition at the end of the year. Other than that, I try not to plan to far into the future… remaining open and embracing whatever comes to me.