Briefly describe the work you do.
The work I produce is varied in terms of it’s time scale and size, some pieces taking me a less than four days and some more than four years. What is consistent is the breed of ideas behind each work.
I focus on the influence commercialism has on my life, creating from my rejections and obsessions. Some pieces are attempts to define myself as a product or brand, and others are ones expressing my escape from any defining industry. My work has taken me from painting a logo using ten pints of my own blood, to drawing in isolation every day for one year with a pen.
Tell us about your background and how that has had an influence on your work and on you as an artist.
I was raised in rural Countryside by one parent and would travel to London where I would stay with the other. Opposites such as these have shown in my art since I was 16. When I moved to University I became fascinated with Outsider Art. It’s impossible to create artistic expression without influence, so I began to make art which embodied the themes that are binary to Outsider Art – those of pop culture and commercialism.
The concept of the artist studio has a broad range of meanings in contemporary practice. Artists may spend much of their time in the actual studio, or they may spend very little time in it. Tell us about your individual studio practice and how it differs from or is the same as traditional notions of “being in the studio.”
I like to work in France, which region I work in depends on which kind of piece I need to make. When I’m in London I’m developing ideas and making those shorter pieces. In some respects I’m quite old fashion as I move around to make work, in a similar way to the impressionists who traveled to their landscapes.
What ROLES do you find yourself playing that you may not have envisioned yourself in when you first started making art?
I like to write, it helps materialise the work before I make it. Sometimes the work comes first, and then the reason for it comes afterwards. It all depends on the day. At the moment I’m co-writing a shot story with a writer I know.
When do you find is the best time to make art? Do you set aside a specific time everyday or do you have to work whenever time allows?
Whenever time allows, there is no 9-5, it’s just a mixture of projects and texts that I work though. It’s taken over my life.
How has your work changed in the past five years? How is it the same?
In 2011 I started on a project that I’ll be finishing very soon, another project has just been completed. Seeing the end of these two pieces has introduced self imposed standards for my work which I didn’t have before. Now my ideas are weirder and I don’t really think too much about any limitations, just eventualities.
How have people such as family, friends, writers, philosophers, other artists or even pop icons had an impact on the work you do?
I really recognise and appreciate their influences on my work. The thing is that I make work about people and culture so I look to people and their cultures for my inspiration. I’m not saying my ideas are stolen, I just interpret things people are thinking and feeling and use my understanding of their predicaments as a starting block on which I graft my own interpretations. More importantly, I tend to use the quality of other peoples work, the works that I love, as something to aspire to. This allows me never to be satisfied, but always to work hard and be hopeful.
Have you ever been pulled in the direction of a pursuit other than being an artist? What are your other interests?
If I wasn’t an artist perhaps I’d be a fisherman. Got to love the smell of the sea and excitement of a good catch. Probably somewhere tropical and with hula skirts (not me, her).
Maxwell Rushton was born in 1989 in Swindon, UK. In 2009 he moved to the North, where he worked as a fish monger whilst studying for a BA in Fine Art at Leeds College of Art. Moving to London with 1st Class Honours in 2012 he continued to create art based upon his own relationship with commercial culture, expressing both his rejections and obsessions, and the influences it has on him. His aesthetic focus polarises a saturated commercial existence and a world that resists it, placing commercialism in a binary with the primal.
Through physically becoming a brand by painting 10 pints of his own blood into a logo in Buy In Bleed Out, or spending a year in isolation constantly drawing a repeated symbol for Drawn Out, Maxwell identifies an unavoidable spectrum to encourage his viewer to question their placing within it. Maxwell articulates the force of commodification in today’s culture by adopting the characteristics of commercialism in order to stand provocatively close to it.
“. . . and in the other I try and turn myself away from buying in at all.”
All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission.