The concept behind the art is very simple: Max uses a transparent background and on to this he pastes layers of brown tape. He uses a scalpel to remove the areas that need to allow more light to pass through. This process of layering the tape and removing the unwanted portions continues till he feels that the art has suitable contrast. This is then hung on to street lamps or windows or any place that has background light. The resulting image that a viewer sees is the interplay of light passing through the layers of tape and this is what creates different areas of contrast in what the viewer sees. Areas having more layers of tape appear darker and vice versa. Though it sounds very simple but Max has honed his skill to such an extent that his artwork seems almost like a brown monochrome painting.
What is more fascinating to me is that Max not only creates the artwork but also personally goes around putting up his creations on to the precariously positioned street lamps often putting himself at risk due to injury. He also is very passionate about spreading the concept of street art and has performed live at a number of venues all over the world. Some of the places where he has performed are Hongkong, Amsterdam to name a couple of places. But because of his "Stick Together" initiative, about which you can read more in the interview, his creations can be seen in a number of locations around the world including Sydney, London, Tokyo, Frankfurt just to name a few. If this is something that whets your appetite then be sure to check out Max's website and read his responses and see some of the amazing images created by him which have been illustrated here. Read on for the interview:
1. Hi Max, tell us something about yourself and your artform. Since how long have you been creating tape art?
Hi there! I am a Dutch street artist, but I travel around quite a bit to hang up my artwork in cities around the world. When I say “artwork” I am talking about pieces of tape art I create of ordinary brown packing tape and acrylic glass and which I hang up on street lamps at night. It all began in Amsterdam about one and a half years ago and I don´t plan to stop soon.
2. What inspired you to get into this unique form of art? What other types of art-form have you used?
I was walking around Amsterdam one night, looking out for a stencil a friend had told me about. But it was too dark to find it, in fact it was too dark to see any kind of street art. The only thing that stuck out at night was dozens of old-fashioned streetlights. That was the moment of inspiration, when I wanted to come up with a form of art that works along with these urban lights. I tried out a couple of different materials… marker-sketches, colored paper etc, but finally I got stuck with the tape.
3. What tools do you use to create these amazing tape arts?
I don´t need much: Some roles of brown packing tape, an ordinary, sharp cutting knife and a piece of acrylic or normal glass. That’s it.
4. You have mentioned on your website that you are creating a large tape to help disadvantaged children. Could you share some details about this project with us?
I was invited by the Sovereign Art Foundation to create a large tape at the Art Fair Hong Kong and raise money for disadvantaged children. The idea was to let all the kids who visited the fair (and that were a lot…) participate in the process of creating art.
I thought it was a great way to show that art is not only something you watch passively but something interactive. It was a cool to overcome the traditional distance between artists and audience. And the kids were amazing co-artists because many of them haven´t learned that distance. They naturally want to explore and express what fascinates them and that makes them to great artists. I will post a bit more about that experience on my blog soon.
5. What is your favorite spot to put your tape arts and why? What criteria do you use to determine the suitability of a location to host your creation?
I really like these good old-fashioned street lamps you can find in Amsterdam, Paris, Lisbon but also in Hong Kong, London and Istanbul. They fit perfectly to the motifs I usually come up with… lamp post, light and artwork… they all support each other that way.
When I have the time to fix the tapes properly they brave all weather. The material is almost indestructible.
6. What is the average amount of tape you use to create some of your larger creations and how much time does creating each artwork require?
For a large piece like “New York Eve” I need roundabout 20 – 25 roles of packing tape. Once I start taping it takes me maybe 4 or 5 days. But that doesn´t include all the preparations: I need to come up with a motive, make some small sketches until I get a feeling for the right angle. Often I dismiss an idea at that stage already. But once a good motif had formed in my mind and once I´m sure enough to pull it off I start taping.
7. What is Stick Together all about? How can one be a part of it? Do you think it will help to spread word about street art in general?
“Stick Together” was born from the idea to share and spread this form of art with other people around the world. I make small tapes in sticker form and send them out for free to people around the world. They are free to stick them up on their favorite street lamp or any other urban light in their city. Everybody can apply for a sticker at: www.sticktogether.maxzorn.com, but I have to add… not everybody will receive one… there are so many asking at the moment that I had to come up with a lottery to pick a few winners.
And yeah, it would be freaking awesome if that project inspire people to realize their own ideas and artworks on the streets.
8. How do you decide on what to feature in your art? What are your sources of inspiration for your art? Do you adapt your art to local customs, traditions and beliefs?
The motifs I come up with are usually born out of a mood or inspired by movies or old photos. I somehow have a film-noir-settings. The tape with its sepia-style and old, rickety street lamps create a great atmosphere around these scenes. Sometimes I also come up with a motif that connects directly to the city I hang it up (The Beatles in Liverpool for example), but in general I stick to my own motifs. It´s like leaving hidden fingerprints around the world.
9. What other artists do you look up to? If you could peek inside the studio/toolbox of any one other artist/craftsperson, whose would it be and why?
Haha, wow, now I feel like being in a bar, allowed picking one of the 2000 drinks from the menu. Shall I go for the ones I know are great, or shall I give it a risk and go for something I haven´t tried yet. I pick the later one. Because I have no clues about photography I would love to check out the photo lab of a great photographer to see how photos and prints are being developed.
10. What are the leisure activities you enjoy when you are not working with tape? What do you find most relaxing?
Haha, what? Leisure time? I barely remember what that word means nowadays. The cool thing is that everything I do at the moment is leisure activity and work at the same time. If it´s having some drinks with some friend and go out later to hang up a tape together, if it´s hopping on an airplane to fly off to realize a project somewhere, or just working on tapes at home. If I had a normal job that´s exactly what I would do after work. If I had another life on top of this one though, I would choose to be a fisherman in the Caribbean, write a novel, brew my own beer and hang out in shady bars to play some Jazz on the piano.
11. What is the most important piece of advice that you would like to give to aspiring artists?
Don´t even bother to justify what you do. Just follow your instincts and create something you feel is cool or important for yourself. Your art doesn´t have to make sense for anybody else.
It´s not in your hands anyway what other make out of it. One day it might be called art and somebody puts a price tag on it, the next day it is referred to as trash and treated like it. That can be frustrating but it can be also freaking liberating because it excuses you to think in any other categories but your own when you create something.
Take a look at this amazing time Lapse Video that shows Max creating one of his masterpieces:
You can find out more about Max's Art at:
Thank you Max for taking the time for this interview, we wish you the very best for the future.