Floridian expat in Amsterdam who loves collecting + exchanging adventure stories with others
Interview with artist Max Zorn02 March 2013, by Lily Heaton
Max Zorn is an Amsterdam born street artist who found inspiration in city lights and has since created a number of unique works of art using only brown packing tape and a scalpel! Find out more in our interview with him.
Tell us a bit about yourself. When did you start and why?
One lousy, cold night I was walking through Amsterdam looking for a mural that a friend had just painted. But, it was way too dark to see anything by the time I found it! That sparked the idea: street art that works at night, when all other art disappears in darkness. I didn't have to look too far, down any canal are old street lamps that were just waiting to become an urban gallery.
Why do you use tape (instead of other materials)?
After I'd decided to use city lights as a canvas, I needed to find the right material to put that idea into action. About 2 years ago in Amsterdam I started with small sketches on acrylic glass, and since I was too lazy to colour bigger areas with my thin marker, I ended up using brown packing tape instead to cover the spots.
Then, a surprise came when I hung up the pieces! The packing tape that had once looked dark and ugly, all of a sudden shone in different shades of sepia tones.
What are you trying to communicate with your art?
When I start an artwork, I don't think much about an audience. I am simply telling a story, starting with a person I find interesting. Then, layer by layer, I build a setting around my protagonists that supports their emotions and creates a certain atmosphere. The communication begins when the scene sparks a story in the head of the viewer.
Sometimes, a simple image evokes memories and feelings we never found the right words to express. When this happens, an unspoken understanding between the artist and the spectator takes place. Everyone has their own personal interpretation of the scenery. I don't intend to bring a specific statement across, but I provide a screen that everyone can fill in with their own projections.
By hanging these works up on street lamps, I hope to encourage more people to use the public space for their own creative projects. It barely needs more than a fun idea, or a roll of packing tape to change a boring wall or lamp into something interesting!
How do you feel about the art scene in Amsterdam (or the Netherlands)?
I like the cultural scene in Amsterdam a lot and its appreciation for all kinds of art. But, I'm not deep enough in it to judge. Through new media, it's getting more and more obsolete to divide the art scene into national schools, anyway.
The Internet provides a new, global platform for artists, with less obstacles and institutional filers, and many cross-border influences and inspirations. We are all profiting from a much greater variety of art forms and styles than the world has ever seen before.
What artists do you admire or find inspiring?
I find my inspiration not so much through other visual artists but more through movies and writers of the lost generation: Hemingway, Steinbeck, Salinger, Kerouac and Hunter S. Thompson. They all have an affinity with broken characters and there is a certain nostalgia about their view on the world that draws me in. Not because I share it, but because it fascinates me.
Tell us a bit about the Stick Together! project. Why did you start and how can people participate?
A friend, who was leaving for Australia, asked me if she could take a piece to stick it up there. Days later, I gave one to another friend to hang up in Brazil. Weeks later, they sent me the first photos and told me of their adventures. I loved seeing my artworks on display in these remote places and also that my friends got so enthusiastically involved. It was a great collaboration. So, why not expand it?
I launched "Stick Together" online but never thought this would become such a big project! Now people from all around the world apply for stickers, post photos of them, share their own street art stories and pass the idea on. It has become a fun, interactive project with many cool people involved. We plan to get more artists involved, too!
In April, we're planning our first event at Roest called Stick Together: AMSTERDAM. I'm psyched for it! Lots of tape and many artists will come together to spread street art to the Amsterdam masses. You can find more info about it here.
What are your goals for the future? Any upcoming exhibitions?
I have an upcoming exhibition in Amsterdam on March 2, 2013 at Olsson Concept pop-up store. There are a lot of fun trips on the agenda including to Ukraine, travels through Europe and the USA. I have a drawer full of tapes just waiting for that!