Max Siedentopf shares the books that have influenced his downright hilarious work

28 February 2018
Reading Time
4 minute read

In January 2017, It’s Nice That named all-round creative, Max Siedentopf as one of our Ones to Watch over the coming year. Since then he has kept us entertained with his signature witty and sometimes downright hilarious work, spanning photography, moving image, graphic design and everything in between.

Max’s work, although varying in output, is held together by his unique way of thinking and interpreting the world around him. In a recent project, Max offered up a plethora of “silly but significant advice” in Instructions for World Peace. The gifs, inspired by the “vast amount of instructions and DIY tutorials which usually try to aid the viewer to become a better version of themselves or how to improve the environment,” utilised Max’s distinctive sense of humour sharing simple tips on how to better yourself.

However jovial, Max’s work is grounded in research and a thorough understanding of culture. This is largely influenced by his vast and ever-expanding collection of books, as he explained in his Ones to Watch interview nearly exactly a year ago. “I’m a huge collector of books and have tonnes of books by all the people I look up to and I always try to learn from what they made for my work.” As our love for Max’s playful output only continues to grow, we caught up with the London-based creative to find out which books have had the biggest impact on his work.

2 Kilo of KesselsKramer

Back in in 2010, this was one of the first books by KesselsKramer that I came across. The work in there pretty much blew my mind wide open, it was the first time that I really felt understood by someone in the strange world of advertising and design. I fell in love and since then I have been working for KesselsKramer at their offices in Los Angeles, Amsterdam and since last year in London.

2 Kilo of KesselsKramer has it all: the best and the not-so best, from the first 10 years of KesselsKramer. True to the name of the book, it weighs exactly two kilograms and the page numbers are done by weight instead of numbers. It includes pretty much everything done at KK between 1996-2005, ranging from t-shirt designs, magazines, books, advertising campaigns, products, exhibitions, installations, stickers, music videos, more books, and even more advertising campaigns, to a documentary film about the world’s two lowest-ranking national soccer teams created just before World Cup 2002. It’s the biggest piece of inspiration (quite literally) that I have come across and still today I find new things inside every time.

Diesel: We Meet

Some of my favourite work by KesselsKramer was for the Italian fashion brand Diesel, but I’m just as much a fan of Diesel’s earlier work in the ‘90s. Along with every campaign they produced a strange and wonderful catalogue. For the last two years I tried to collect all the catalogues that were brought out between 1989 and 2004. Even though they are just filthy advertising catalogues, I personally think they are far more inspiring and radical than any art publication around today. Each page bursts with creativity, humour and wit, both in design, photography and text. We Meet is one of my favourite ones, which solely consists of photos of people shaking hands.

Charlie White: Photographs

Charlie White’s approach to photography can be somewhat compared to that of Gregory Crewdson. Highly conceptual and staged, he works with huge film-like setups which span across several weeks to months for a single photograph. The eye for detail in his images push photography almost into the realm of painting. The book includes three series from 1996 to 2001.

Maurizio Cattelan: All (First Edition) and Not Afraid of Love

Ok, these are technically two books, but because they look the same I decided to show both.

One of my favourite books I have by `Maurizio Cattelan is the exhibition catalogue for his show All at the Guggenheim which was meant to be his last show before retiring from the art world. Just like the show, where he exhibited everything he ever made, the Bible-resembling book documents every single artwork and prank he made from the late 1980s to 2012.

As was to be expected from Cattelan, his retirement didn’t last very long and he had a new show up in Monnaie de Paris in 2016. Next to the normal exhibition catalogue, an artist edition was made, which looks from the outside like All. Well, it is the All catalogue, but after turning a few pages you come across a gaping hole that was cut into the book and inside you find a new catalogue (Not Afraid of Love) hidden away.

Safari: A Photicular Book

I’m originally from Namibia, the country which is home to the entire cast of The Lion King and houses the oldest desert in the world. Sometimes when I’m stuck in London and get homesick, I flip through the pages of my 3D safari book. The images are made of some fancy lenticular print that I don’t quite understand and when you move the pages it appears as if the animals are running, almost as real as if you were there. It’s the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen.

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About the Author

Ruby Boddington

Ruby joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in September 2017 after graduating from the Graphic Communication Design course at Central Saint Martins. In April 2018, she became a staff writer and in August 2019, she was made associate editor. Get in contact with Ruby about ideas you may have for long-form stories on the site.

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