Featured Illustrator

Max Löffler

July 2018

We love Freelance illustrator Max Löffler's lighthearted interview; he has such a carefree perspective on life despite the rough patch he went through a few years back. We chat about trying to eat as much Kochkäse a day as possible, drawing every single character from Dragonball, and he opens up about the bad relationship he has with his diploma.

What are some of your earliest creative memories and what lead you into design?

Apart from the usual "I always drew a lot“ mantra, I remember meticulously drawing every single character from tv shows like Dragonball or books like The Hobbit and then filing them neatly in a big red folder. For the different energy levels of the sajajins I even made cut-outs allowing me to transform Vegeta to his blond Super-Sajajin form by pulling a paper strap. Ugh.

Then when I was a teen, I joined the basketball team of my hometown. I remember desperately looking for t-shirts of my favorite NBA teams in local shops, unfortunately to no avail. My solution was to rebuild the logos with the pen tool in Photoshop and print them on iron-on foils. I guess that’s where it all started somehow…

What was your plan for graduating and what actually happened?

My rough plan for graduating was to do something extensive as I used to do a lot of small-sized work in previous semesters, and as I was about to slowly find what could be called a style, I wanted to use my diploma to explore or even establish this visual language. But my professor wanted me to abandon everything I had in mind or presented, loosening up and doing new things. I don’t know if I wasn’t relentless enough, or too close-minded to open up for other possibilities, because it was nothing but a constant struggle with myself, the professor and both our appreciation of what illustration is or can be (me being more applied, she being more experimental and artsy).

I ultimately decided to work on seven larger-than-life fudepen illustrations of jinns - iconographic representations of my anxiety attacks and hypochondriac phases during a month traveling Morocco in 2017 - and for that, I got kind of ripped apart in my final presentation. That’s why I still have a bad relationship with my diploma (which is why it isn’t visible anywhere online), not because of the result itself, but because of the entire process and period of my life…sounds dramatic, but at least I graduated in the end :)

What does a typical working day include for you right now?

Get up, drink coffee & check mails, work, eat, nap, work, work, work, try to eat as much Kochkäse (German cheese dish) as possible, exercise, watch Netflix, sleep. Still trying to improve my working routine though.

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Over time you’ll understand what it is you have to add from within yourself to give your work a relevant individual edge. There’s no Youtube tutorial, just constant trial & error.

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Who are your top five design crushes right now?

Land Boys

Robert Beatty

Kyutae Lee

Braulio Amado

Will Sweeney

How did you develop your style as an illustrator and what tips would you have for others?

I don’t regard my current work outcome as the original style in which I’ll work forever.

It’s a fluid process, and develops like one is developing as a person. So hopefully I’m progressing too :) As my art education was a rather naturalistic one, I first did a lot of (photo)realistic colored pencil illustrations for album covers of befriended bands and then was fascinated by the naturalistic rendering skills of artists like John Dyer Bailey and Aaron Horkey.

Over time I got inspired by more and more styles and artists, until I realized that I wouldn’t have this one style, but a few, which seemed less boring on the long run. However, it all didn’t feel like it was really what wanted to get out of me. I tried to loosen up, did digital drawings with my computer mouse and concentrated on what was relevant to me, resulting in a zine called "The Psychic Vault“ which was the foundation for the visual landscape I’m exploring right now. My tip for others would be, don’t give yourself a hard fight. Try, look left and right, scrap everything again, make things in vain, and over time you’ll understand what it is you have to add from within yourself to give your work a relevant individual edge. There’s no Youtube tutorial, just constant trial & error.

What career advice would you give your 16yr old self?

Don’t be such a dork wearing those Punk and Emo shirts in sizes way too small, grow your hair as long as it’s still there and start surfing already.

Oh, career advice… alright then: try as much different things as you can, even they seem useless. If you already think you draw a lot, stop playing video games, stop watching movies and realize what a naughty pro-slacker you are. And finally, if you think you have the hang of it all….well, not even close!

Website: maxloeffler.com

Instagram: @haxloeffler

Behance: /maxloeffler

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