Here’s an interview with a very talented artist & designer by the name of Maxwell Lord. He might be the only person in Russia who I’ve ever communicated with, but thanks to the internet, you don’t have to look far to find his work. Artwork from his portfolio on the Behance Network (a great online portfolio site) is regularly featured on art & design blogs from around the world, and you can see more of his work, not to mention links to his blog, his flickr page, and his tumblr page all at his site: 86era. His love for lettering is immediately apparent, and it’s totally undeniable that he’s extremely skilled when it comes to original text, as far as I’m concerned. A few weeks ago he sent me a sketch of his take on “Typo-graphical” done in incredible hand drawn letters (see below) and I figured it was high time I interviewed him here so I’d have an excuse to post more of his amazing work. He very generously took the time to answer my silly questions, and he also provided me with some peeks into his moleskin sketchbook (which, as they love to say on MTV Cribs, is “Where the magic happens”). Enjoy!
Where are you today and where are you going? I was born & now live and work in the most beautiful area around Moscow, Russia – a small city called Zelenograd (literally: green-town). This is a place where you’re still able to breath some fresh air and enjoy a lot of green plants everywhere you go! However, I must admit that I’m pretty much obsessed with the idea of becoming a traveling artist, because there are thousands of inspirational places in the world. For me, it’s seriously challenging to stay in the same place for long time. I have to feed my creativity with new emotions, people, language and probably the most important – new cultures. And I really want to witness that incredible sunset in Shibam (Yemen), sitting on the rooftop of 7000-years-old skyscraper. Thanks to the internet and my ever-evolving natural ability to draw things for not tying me down with a specific place to work, geographically-wise :)
What are you working on? Being a kinesthetic learner, I’m working on 10 things at the same time and sometimes it works out! There’s Keystone Design Union – a huge network of creative people around the globe, led by David Gensler. I’m preparing fancy artwork for some of their projects, scheduled for August. I also crafted a logo for their core member – will be posting it as soon as I get it approved. I’m a confirmed participant of Some Type Of Wonderful 2010 – a typographic project with giclee prints, wall calendars and exhibition in Australia. It’s really an honor for me to contribute to such interesting act. They had Si Scott and Alex Trochut on the previous version, and this time I’m lucky to be among such names as Luca ‘Bean One’ Barcellona, Seb Lester and Jessica Hische. I’m working my best on the piece which is based on the month of April. There’s some information about the whole thing here and here. And last but not least, we’re lunching a limited edition of t-shirts that will be sold locally. Four designers from both Moscow and my hometown, 3-5 designs from each, printed on high quality tees. I did 2 nice typographic designs and two fairly detailed illustrations for this collaboration. Once the stuff is printed and photographed, I will be exposing all the details about this collection in my blog.
Where have you been finding inspiration recently? Oh man, inspiration is almost everywhere! But music inspires me the most. I’ve been digging a lot of hip-hop, mainly instrumental stuff lately. Basically, my passion for typography evolved with the music I listened to, as I always loved to sketch words, phrases and sometimes whole verses from favorite tracks. There’s a solid archive of my sketches, doodles, lettering-tryouts and 90% of them are based on hip-hop and soul lyrics. WWW aka the almighty internet is another great source of inspiration for me. I read online version of art magazines (hi Juxtapoz!), I watch other artists’ blogs, twitters and flickrs to catch in-progress shots of their work, I look through typography and lettering related websites to see what’s new and discover interesting artists. Not so long ago I was given a link to portfolio of Raphael Boguslav – a great calligrapher with Russian roots. His stuff is mind-blowing – so precise and clean!
How long have you been doing your hand-drawn typography work? I believe it’s been like 4 years, more or less professional stuff… Started with graffiti-inspired lettering and begun to experiment with type in general.
Have you been doing graphics for any clothing brands? I had this opportunity to provide custom lettering for 8mm Clothing brand, I think they’re still selling the t-shirt. This is the only wearable stuff produced using my graphics so far.
How long have you been running 86era.org? It will be 1 year old in August. Prior to exposing my 86era brand, I was running various sites under another nickname, filled mostly with my amateurish sketches and demoscene graphics, but that’s a long story. I have to mention that I was into so-called text-mode art (also known as ASCII or ANSI), drawing text logos with special characters that looked like blocks, half-blocks, shading blocks, etc. It was pure fun, and I still feel that thing but I barely get time to sleep, so…
What about the best thing you’ve seen from another brand/artist/designer lately? I totally loved that tee series “WE RUN NY/SF/etc” – especially the metaphor they used – it’s very clever. A perfect example of “why the hell didn’t I think of doing it myself” thing :) Lately I’ve been keeping my eye on freelance graphic designer/artist Benny Gold. His stuff is always fresh and nicely done, but he also gets my respect for hand-drawing. Because how else would you put a piece of your soul into design or type? Their collaboration tee with Rebel8/Mike Giant was dope! Aaron Horkey – extremely talented man, responsible for Burlesque Of North America brand. Everytime I see his new poster, next thing I have to do is to look for my lower jaw somewhere on the floor. Just look at his last works – damn! Can’t forget about Usugrow, a Japanese mastermind who’s currently in Upper Playground artist roster. I can’t figure out how does he do his artwork… His uncompromising shading style, his mystic characters and unique hand-writing – it’s all so mesmerizing.
Where would you like to take your artwork/career? God, that’s a nice question! First of all, I’m going to train my artistic skills as much as possible, maybe get a degree in arts or type-design, but obviously it’s not gonna happen in Russia. I’d love to make connections with the brands that I like and work with them. It requires some heavy recognition in the current oversaturated market, but it’s still possible to reach this level. There’s always been such thing as craftsmanship – if you do something and you do it damn well, you can choose who you work with. 10deep, Crooks & Castles, Upper Playground, Lifted Research Group – just to name a few of my favorite brands that I’d love to approach someday. And as I said above, I’d love to travel, because traveling allows you to meet new artists with different ideology and talents, which could lead to some insane never-seen-before collaborations. I want my artwork to inspire people, I want people to come see my stuff in galleries. The more inspiration I bring to the world, the more I gain back. It’s a life-long job to keep inspiration circulated. I also feel passionate about tattooing and graffiti/airbrushing. We’ll see what will come out of these.