The Screwball Confidential Interview – Max Grundy

I’m proud to call Max Grundy a pal of mine. We met a number of years ago at The Grand National Roadster Show in Pamona CA., hit it off immediately and became fast friends. We used to live ten minutes from each other and spent many a lunch talking art philosophy and business over bad Mexican food. We have also shown our work together often.

Max Grundy’s work is bold and graphic, striking in its directness. He plays on basic human fears and phobias that have driven advertising and propaganda since the dawn of time.

Oh yeah, did I mention he drives a bitchin chopped Merc?!


James Owens – Let’s start with some basic info, where are you from and where do you live now?

Max Grundy – I’m originally from Salt Lake City Utah. About 5 years ago I moved to L.A. to pursue making art full time. I currently live in Riverside ca. Its about an hour east of L. A.


J.O. – Did you go to art school, if so where?

M.G. – I didn’t attend art school necessarily but both my degrees were in art. Bachelors in illustration and masters in painting and drawing with art history minor. Art history has always been a passion for me.


J.O. – Ha. I love art history but the classes were so boring I always fell asleep in class. Somehow I got As and Bs on tests though. Which artists have influenced your work the most?

M.G. – If I had to pick one artist that influenced me it would be Giorgio de Chirico. He was a spanish surrealist. Something about his work was very powerful and mysterious. I love his use of skewed perspective and dramatic lighting. Robert Williams is a close second. I love artists from the surrealist and pop movements in general. 20th century modernism is my favorite. Graphic work that is minimal tends to be the most influential for me.


J.O. – You mentioned you studied both Illustration and painting. That is an interesting combination.

M.G. – I would say that I was trained 50 percent commercial art and 50 percent fine art. I purposely did my bachelors in illustration because it gave me commercial training and also got me experienced with many media. Not just painting and drawing but a little of everything. I love jewelry making, sculpture, print making, and of course art history.

I’ve always thought of my work as occupying a fine line between fine art and commercial. For example I want my work to be bold and clear much like graphic work is with a clear statement and visual narrative. However I feel that my work has a strong conceptual element much like fine art does.

J.O. – I know you just moved into a new house. Do you have a studio set up yet? Tell us about it.

M.G. – Yes we just bought a new house, well its actually a 1955 Mid Century Moderne ranch but its new to me. I converted the 2 car garage into my studio. We cleaned and painted it then stained the concrete. Currently we are installing tables and work benches. We have plans to build a detached studio in the backyard but that might be a while.


J.O. – I’ve always admired your strong design sense. Could you share some thoughts on your approach to design?

M.G. – My approach to deign is this: I believe art should be clean and clear but at the same time it needs to be bold and make a statement. I mean seriously… The thing should be interesting. Sometimes I wonder if artists ask themselves if what they are doing is even interesting or not. I try to make my work simple and clear much like how a street sign is. No hidden elements or secrets. Its all out in the open. Also I think you should make art about something that is unique and hasn’t been done a million times I.e. Ed roth nock-off’s. I mean seriously look at the interesting world around you then work those elements into your art.

J.O. – I am always surprised and delighted by the colors you use in your work. Could you please talk about your approach to color?

M.G. – My work is heavily influenced by mid century poster design, comic book art, and propaganda typically all these styles use a limited palette of color. I try to mimic this in my work. Usual 2 colors. 2 grays and black and white. – believe that color is more striking and memorable when there is less of it.


J.O. – What kind of paint do you prefer to use?

M.G. – I have used many medium in this style of art however I prefer one shot enamel on aluminum panel. I feel it is the best choice for the style of artwork.


J.O. – Aluminum panel is an interesting choice of ground.

M.G. – My ground is aluminum typically but sometimes steel. It fits best with the aero-auto themes as well as the hard edged style I think.


J.O. –  What is the one piece of equipment you couldn’t do with out?

M.G. – The one piece of equipment I couldn’t live with out is my computer and art software. I think often in the art world and our particular hot rod scene the computer is frowned upon by artists. That’s a foolish attitude though i think. The computer allows you to be much more productive and make better work. Even if you just use it for sketches not finished product it allows you to do more and better paintings. If you look at the history of art one thing is consistent… great artists and art movements always used the lates technology for the time and applied it to there art. The renaissance used linear perspective, impressionists used paint in tubes, surrealists used the photograph. The computer is just our current technology so i use it often. However my finished product is away done by hand.


J.O. – I agree. It is simply another tool in our tool box. Being an artist we are essentially self employed which means we work harder and longer hours for ourselves than we ever did for any employer. What time of day do you find the most productive?

M.G. – I try to put in a long work day doing half the time on my own personal stuff. The other half of the day gets devoted to freelance projects. I usually hit my sweet spot at night. Its best from 10 to 1 am for me. I get the most clarity and ideas. I love to work late but get up early. This ends up meaning I don’t get enough sleep.


J.O. – It seems a lot of artists prefer to work this way. Why do you think you are most productive at night?

M.G. – I’m not sure exactly but i think its a combination of the quiet and everyone’s asleep so there are less distractions. I think these elements help make a less pressured environment to create.


J.O. – Tell us where “Fear is the new beauty” came from and what it means to you.

M.G. – My slogan came from something I heard a girl say at a college critique. She said that in the art world ugly was the new beautiful and I thought she had a good point but I thought often it was fear that dictated the publics taste so the idea was born … Fear is the new beauty. The whole idea is that people need to be aware of how badly the media manipulates our thinking in everything form our personal hygiene products to our moral principles. Heck if someone sees it on t.v. Then it is absolute truth. Right?


J.O. – What advice do you have for young people interested in a career in the arts?

M.G. – Don’t be afraid. Just put your work out there. Do something unique. If you wait too long then it will pass you by. Produce a lot and don’t be lazy… These are all phrases I live by. Also if you want to work for yourself then do it. Don’t slave away for some company that will get all the glory and in end not give a crap about you. Your youth is your greatest strength. The longer you wait the older you get and the harder it becomes.


J.O. –  Max thanks so much for taking the time to do this. Where can people find your work?

M.G. – I show at many galleries. I am most proud of showing at la luz de jesus in l.a. Its my favorite place. Also i love gasoline gallery, the hive gallery, kustom lane in australia and most recently sacred gallery in new york.

Max Grundy Fear is the New Beauty


7 Responses to “The Screwball Confidential Interview – Max Grundy”

  1. Great story – thanks for providing the insights guys!

  2. Says:

    Thanks Max & James.

    I found various points of interest- merely discussing art is rare for me. You obviously carefully consider design before it is shown.
    This I often struggle with- as a plein air type- work often comes across with primary design deficiencies intact.

    Holy cow that Riviera rocks!

    Steve Brown

  3. hey guys ..

    received a warm welcome from you both at wintersun –
    you both should be proud of your works !!

    have a good one –
    jimbo ..

  4. Tony (Barney) Peake Says:

    Thanks for the blog, great idea and excellent interview.
    Many future artists out there ask me, how, why, when, where and what to do about “making it” ?
    Max hit the nail on the head. Just get into your art and do it.
    Everthing takes an effort, if art is your life, make your life with art !

  5. James,
    I will network your blog info through our site.It is a good read.

  6. Hello, I think your site might be having browser compatibility issues.
    When I look at your website in Chrome, it looks fine but
    when opening in Internet Explorer, it has some overlapping.

    I just wanted to give you a quick heads up! Other then that, great blog!

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