Max Zorn interview on Design Boom
DB: please can you tell us a bit about your background and what you do for a living?
MZ: I make art with packing tape, the same kind you might use on boxes when you’re sending a package in the mail or moving home. it may sound weird to start my resume with a sentence like that, but that’s what I do for a living. yet, it was a coincidence that I ended up as an artist at all. it all started with the idea to use street lamps as an urban gallery for street art. I played around with different materials and detected the luminescent qualities of brown packing tape, but it was rather accidentally. when I saw the sepia glow of the first artwork made of tape on a street lamp in amsterdam, that’s when I knew that this technique could work and had a lot of potential for experimentation
DB: how would you describe your work to someone who hasn’t seen it before?
MZ: I’ve tried a million different explanations, like starting with ‘I stick packing tape on glass, cut out certain parts with a scalpel, start with the next layer of tape, and so on.’ but after five minutes I am usually still looking at confused faces. that’s when I try the shortcut by showing people one of the making-of-videos.
DB: please could you tell us more about how your specialization with tape come about?
MZ: I was learning by doing and it worked out amazingly fast. I cut my fingers a billion times during the first month and got constantly tangled up in tape, but I was so fascinated by the medium that I couldn’t stop practicing. it´s actually hard to describe the process because it´s not a conscious act. usually I start with a motif in mind, then I sketch the outlines with the first layer of tape, fill in with the next layer, cut out parts of it, peel off some tape and… well, here we go again!
DB: what’s the thing you enjoy most about working with tape?
MZ: each medium has its own character – some things come easy with it and others are harder to acheive. tape supports straight lines, it´s sepia tone already pushes you towards nostalgic motifs. so I went along with its nature and let the material guide me. packing tape sounds sticky and difficult but it´s surprisingly easy to create art with. what I like the most about my job is the fact that I can work in any place that has a window and a shop that offers packing tape.
DB: what has been the biggest singular influence on your work?
MZ: I find a lot of inspiration from the writers of the lost generation like hemingway, fitzgerald, steinbeck etc. ‘show me a hero and I’ll show you a tragedy’, this quote from scott fitzgerald sums up quite well what my art talks about: the second when our mask is off and our eyes reveal more about ourselves than all words we ever used. it´s about our inner conflicts and our loneliness in an opulent world. it may seem nostalgic at first, to refer to writers from a past era, but I see much of the aimlessness they and their protagonists struggled with evident in our generation as well.
DB: what areas of your work or personal development are you hoping to explore in 2014?
MZ: I plan to go bigger with my works. creating large artworks forces me to think differently and I like that challenge. I can´t wait to repeat the ‘stick together’ art event we did last year in amsterdam. we gathered amazing artists and let them go wild on walls and canvasses in an old warehouse for a weekend. the outcome was stunning.
DB: what do you do to keep your ideas fresh?
MZ: traveling keeps me inspired. and working. whenever I start a new piece it almost immediately triggers dozen of fresh ideas. the more I work the bigger the pool of ideas grows. I hope my mom reads that – haha!
DB: what do you know now that you wish you knew when you were a teenager?
MZ: when I think back it seems as though my life took turns for the better when I explored the things that I was fascinated, it’s a compulsion that at the time I’m usually clueless of. I wouldn’t tell my younger self anything about what is to come or how it will feel. that would spoil the surprise. well, maybe one thing: don´t ever jump from the roof of that moving truck. seriously!
DB: what compels you to create artworks and what other compulsions do you have?
MZ: when I create a new work it´s like writing a story. I have a rough idea of the storyline and how it´s supposed to end but somewhere in the process I usually lose control over the image, and that’s when things get entertaining. I basically watch myself creating something I didn’t know anything about before. what else do I like? well, I love fishing, pizza, amsterdam in the summer and miami in the winter, oktoberfest, surfing, art museums, ella fitzgerald, nutella, the sound of my girlfriend snoring, traveling, wynwood district, boats and old VW buses.
DB: do you have any superstitious beliefs?
MZ: funny, I was just asked that by a friend after watching a two-hour long documentary about some sort of yeti hunters. boringly enough I don´t have any superstitions myself. though I believe that it might come to me with age. ask me again in twenty years!
DB: what’s the last thing that made you say ‘wow’ ?
MZ: the triple cheeseburger I recently got served in a bar north of miami.