Max Weinland is an innovative Hamburg-based designer who has accumulated a wide-ranging portfolio. Max spends the majority of his time working as an art director at various design agencies as well as running the type foundry Riesling Type alongside Timo Durst. The rest of his time is spent freelancing, designing typefaces and teaching.
“I became a graphic designer because I was into graffiti, skateboarding, hip hop and metal culture. My interest evolved organically and, after finishing high school, it became clear to me that what I was interested in was called graphic design and that I could study it. I finished art school without a degree in 2012. Since then it has been a lot of hard work and I have gradually become involved in more interesting projects. The shit jobs become fewer over time,” Max tells It’s Nice That.
Compact letter spacing and simple grids permeate Max’s work, which often incorporates a modernist aesthetic. Max lists sci-fi films, video games and books as key sources of inspiration. These influences are reflected in his series of nostalgic, monochromatic rendered images for Der Satellit. “Graphic design can only exist and carry meaning through its context. Everything I do in my work relates to my surroundings. Grids help me; I find satisfaction in setting them up which I guess makes my graphic design approach vaguely modernist. My work is situation-oriented and relies on references and narratives. It can get a bit didactic at times, even cynical, but I try to find ways around that.”
One of Max’s latest projects is Pioneer Paper, a rough, annotated take on a news journal. Pioneer Paper was a collaboration between Timo Durst, Max (Riesling Type) and the Indiecon, the hosts of an annual conference for independent magazine publishers. “It all started with a workshop, where the participants are declared to be journalists and given a brief to complete with the help of a toolkit. They take part in the conference and use the toolkit to report on activities, and interview speakers and attendees to document the event in a subjective, entertaining and creative way. “We then gather all the material together and turn it into a newspaper overnight. It is published the following day – on the Indiemag day – to update those that were unable to attend the conference,” Max says. Pioneer Paper can be understood as a role-play of insightful reports about the independent publishing industry that has been distilled into a newspaper format.
An earlier, equally accomplished project is The Chopper, a motorcycle publication conceptualised by the custom motorcycle manufacturer Ehinger Kraftrad’s magazine and designed by Max and photographer Bernd Westphal. The two artists were tasked with the creation of a magazine to accompany the presentation of the Chopper in the Los Angeles Born Free vintage motorcycle show. “The journal is a homage to 1970s choppers and the customising scene of East L.A. Bernd and I therefore aimed for a photographic language inspired by the bike shots found in vintage motorcycle magazines. The Chopper is one of the most obscene objects I have ever seen; it just demanded to be shot this way,” Max explains. Max and Bernd spent 22 hours staging the photographs, capturing the bike from multiple different perspectives and experimenting with several exposure layers. “It was pornographic and fetishist – an aesthetic overkill – so it really resonated with the American motorcycle scene.”
All of Max’s projects have emerged from an acute sensitivity to his surroundings. The responsibilities that come with being a working designer with a high-profile platform are not taken lightly by Max: “I am convinced that designers have socio-political and ecological responsibilities to influence certain aspects of life.”
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