Today we’d like to introduce you to Max McDermott.
Max, we’d love to hear your story and how you got to where you are today both personally and as an artist.
I was born in Austin, TX, and grew up surrounded by musicians… Some of my earliest memories are drawing on bar napkins during sound checks; I think that was really how it began, drawing was the thing I would do to entertain myself when I was a kid and I just never really stopped. I always had real art supplies to work with too, which helped, I remember doing a cut paper thing in elementary school when the teacher handed me a pair of those horrible plastic scissors, and she was flabbergasted when I asked for an X-Acto knife.
In the mid 2000s, I ran a pop up gallery in Austin with a friend, that was a lot of fun, and I hope to do it again soon, we’d pull all the furniture out of whatever space we were using (usually one of our houses) in about an hour, hang up art and clamp lights and stuff, had bands play, a keg of beer and some kind of food.
That ended when I moved to Chicago to go to the Art Institute of Chicago from which I graduated in 2015. I lived there another three years, painting in my room above The Empty Bottle, a music venue in Ukrainian Village, and working as a preparator at a gallery in the south loop until November of this year when I moved back to Austin.
We’d love to hear more about your art. What do you do and why and what do you hope others will take away from your work?
I paint and draw mostly, I do some cardboard sculptures and puppets and have worked in a lot of mediums, but these days I mostly paint and draw. For the past couple of years, I’ve been painting from old b-movies. I’ve always liked old cheesy horror movies, There’s something really compelling to me about a wooden delivery of a bad line, and the way those old movies, you can kind of see how they did everything, like you can see that Godzilla is a guy in a suit and that plays into the way that you perceive that character. Or when someone like Lon Cheney Jr. or John Carradine hams it up in a small part in a bad movie because they couldn’t really afford someone of that star power, but they also need that name on the poster or people won’t watch it.
I think about Cindy Sherman a lot too; I like the idea of making something new that has a sort of uncanny familiarity to it, making something that’s obviously part of a larger story but without any context. “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep” “Motorman” and “My Life in the Bush of Ghosts”, the way those books explore realness and fakeness, the way they just dump you into these bizarre worlds and just assume you’ll catch on, or not, is something I draw a lot of inspiration from,.
I like to see something that fails to be the illusion it wants to be but becomes something different and more compelling in the process.
So that’s where it comes from, the things I’m thinking about when I’m alone working, but on a certain level too, I am just making things that I hope others will find interesting to look at if I can reflect any of that in the mind of someone else that’s great.
Alot of time and effort and talent to ultimately accomplish something kind of stupid
What do you think it takes to be successful as an artist?
I think that’s a pretty blurry one; for me, success is just making it. I think if you can put something into the world and be proud of your work that’s success. If other people respond to it that’s even better, but I don’t think you can get there without some kind of routine practice, and that’s the hard part- Being really good at anything, paradoxically, involves being bad at it most of the time, When you see a magician pull off a trick, you don’t think about the hours of practice that went into making that 15 seconds seem effortless.
Do you have any events or exhibitions coming up? Where would one go to see more of your work? How can people support you and your artwork?
I’m hoping to have some more shows soon, but for the time being there’s my website, which I need to update. The best for right now is my Instagram (@maxthedermott), where I post day-to-day work, you can get in touch with me through there.
- Address: 3413 Gable Dr. Austin TX, 78759
- Website: maxthedermott.com
- Phone: 5127732687
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @maxthedermott
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MaxTheDermott