OnWilliam Interviews Lisa Max

02 Sep 2014

Recently we asked 2014 OnWIliam Magnet Set featured artist Lisa Max a bunch of questions. Read on for a entertaining interview..
Who are you and what do you do?
I am Lisa Max. Yes, that is my actual name. I was born and raised in Germany and moved to Perth in 2008 after completing my studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna/Austria. My art practice is based mainly around silly character designs. I am interested in and influenced by: graphic novels, animation, character art, illustration, fabric designs, screen printing, toys and DIY culture.

Why do you do what you do?
For fun and occasionally money. Sometimes it's neither of the two, in those case I really have no idea what on earth I am doing.

What does a typical working day look like for you?
Unfortunately (in many ways also fortunately) my typical working day does not involve the making of any art. Art only happens in the event that the following three factors align 1) I am not at work, 2) I am not currently eating or sleeping (very unlikely) and 3) nothing important is going on in my social life. You get the idea. I do hope though that at a point not too far into the future I can make some room for creativity in my life again.

How long have you been making your art?
Don't all of us make art from our early childhood onwards? I personally hold my early drawings in high regard. I am particularly fond of one drawing depicting an angel and a devil with the word "DIFFERENCE" scrawled underneath it in the terrible yet confident hand writing of a four to five year old. My other favourite is titled "Princess makes pee-pee". The type of art I am making nowadays is something that only really started half way through art school. There still are occasional references to pee-pee though.

What's your background?
Art or life related background? I'll give you a summary of the whole lot. I was born in 1979 to two literature nerds in a German town called Wuppertal. At the time my mother was working as a librarian and my father stayed home with me while writing his PhD. Most of my growing up was more or less successfully accomplished in a small town called Leonberg in South-West Germany. I did not have a real interest in art at this stage, but did discover photography and zine making in my late teen years. I finished high school in 1999 and moved around Germany for a while until settling in Vienna, Austria, where I got accepted into the Academy of Fine Arts. I had applied with no actual idea of what I wanted to do, Predominantly I wanted to get away from the purely theoretical studies of sociology and media theory I was half-heartedly pursuing at the time. Vienna is an incredible place that shaped my interest in art and design as well as my political views, and by the end of my time at the Academy I had a relatively clear idea of what I wanted to do. After committing to a long distance relationship with a nice fellow here in Perth I finally decided to move to WA in 2008 and have been pretty happy here ever since. These days I spend most of my time around Northbridge, at my day job as well as my studio at Paper Mountain.

What work do you most enjoying doing?
Any work that doesn't feel like work. I'm sure most people can relate to this. It rarely happens, but when it does, man, it's really satisfying.

Describe a real-life situation that inspired you?
I cannot recall a specific situation, but generally it is all about situations where humans or animals are being wonderful in some way.

What jobs have you done other than being an artist?
I have worked in offices, libraries, hospitals, supermarkets, book shops, cafes and on a bicycle in the streets of Vienna. I've also done a fair bit of design work, during and after art school.

What memorable responses have you had to your work?
Generally the responses vary between "That's so cute!" and "That's a bit weird." Recently I've heard a lot of "Looks just like Adventure Time!" which I guess means that I can finally feel some sort of validation for drawing long, flailey arms. However, the most memorable responses I've had were a variety of complete strangers in other countries emailing me photos of my art tattooed on their skin. Some of these people even asked for permission before they did it - extra points to those guys!

What's your favourite thing about your work?
The absolute best thing is when I manage to draw something that really amuses me. To be fair, I am easily amused. Or when I find a colour scheme that makes me happy. Or when I unexpectedly create something at a time when I wasn't really planning to.

What superpower would you have and why?
Some form of super human travel. Whether it is flying or any other method of getting to visit my friends and family in Europe without having to invest in plane tickets, I don't care. If you happen to know any spiders that could infect me with something useful along those lines, or are aware of any demons that may wish to purchase my soul in exchange for a superpower, please refer them to my website www.lisamax.org.

Something you love about Northbridge, and why.
The owners of both Ruck Rover and Red Stripe Clothing are very tolerant of me eating lunch in their establishments and leaving crumbs all over the floor.

Favourite or most inspirational place (in Northbridge)?
There is a car park with a Japanese cherry tree in it in a hidden yet central location. One year my friend and I snuck into this car park with some large pieces of cardboard to sit down among the petals and celebrate a lunch time cherry blossom festival. When we left the underside of the cardboard was entirely covered in squashed bees. If you manage to find this tree at the appropriate time of year and wish to recreate this experience, please, think of the bees.

What's the best piece of advice you've been given?
"Tuck your shirt in." - Steven James Finch