Ones to Watch 2017: creative Max Siedentopf
It’s Nice That’s Ones to Watch is our chance to showcase 12 creatives who we think will be making an impact in 2017. The people featured have been whittled down from a global pool of creative talent and have been chosen for their ability to consistently produce inspiring and engaging work. Each one practices across a diverse range of disciplines and continually pushes the boundaries of their creative output. Ones to Watch 2017 is supported by Uniqlo.
We caught up with each of our Ones to Watch, to talk about their work so far and their hopes for the year to come.
Max Siedentopf is the type of creative who has many fingers in multiple creative pies, working across photography, film, design, advertising and more. His main source of inspiration is his bookshelf: “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,” explains Max. For the last two and half years, he’s been a creative at KesselsKramer in Amsterdam after moving from the company’s LA Office. His work for the agency has seen him create graphics for the Hans Brinker Budget Hotel identity, a poster campaign the We Love Graphic Design 2016 festival in Copenhagen and a photographic campaign for the prestigious Triennale di Milano.
Aside from these briefs, Max has a whole host of other projects he works on independently, giving him the freedom not to be pigeon-holed as having a particular “style”. “For me, the most important part of the things I make is the idea. These ideas usually end up in all kinds of different places from art directing campaigns, designing identities, directing music videos, photography or making magazines,” he says. “Looks, aesthetics and style are usually just a lucky byproduct in most cases. Even though I don’t strive to have a certain style, a theme that probably runs through my work is fun – I always try to make the viewer smile and I wouldn’t really see a reason to do any project if it wouldn’t be about fun.”
We’ve revelled in the humour and cleverness of many of Max’s projects including, Horrible Happy Holidays, which we wrote about in December. The project was a salute to summer fun but also reflected on the traditional nuclear family set up by offsetting the camera-ready poses of the parents and children with faces made out of watermelons. “If all things fail next year, you will probably see me working at a hotel or beach resort,” says Max.
Among the music videos he directed in 2016 for Molly Nilsson and De Likt and the exhibitions of his work he’s held, one of Max’s biggest personal projects to date has been Ordinary magazine. The quarterly fine art photography publication asks photographers to take an ordinary object and make it extraordinary. It started life as a simple idea. “In January 2016 I said as a joke that I would love to start my own magazine. 12 months later I’m very happy and grateful to say that this imaginary magazine is not so imaginary anymore, and I’ve just released its fourth issue,” says Max. “It’s incredibly easy to do something if you put your mind to it, and it’s one of the things I’ve taken out of 2016 and hope to take forward this year.”
To build on the magazine, which has already seen surreal themes like plastic cutlery, sponges, cotton buds and socks, Max hopes to “work with just as many incredibly talented and friendly people as we did last year”. Collaborating with others on projects like Ordinary has shown Max the potential it has to “make the work so much bigger, diverse and a lot more interesting”, and the creative hopes to do more of it this year.
Looking ahead, Max has already got a rich mix of projects on the horizon. “There are a few different ones I’m thinking about – one will be a series (along with a book and exhibition) called Instructions to World Peace, which ironically became even more relevant after the US elections and everything else that’s going on right now,” he explains. He’s also planning a “very unrealistic” project with Moldovan photographer Olya Oleinic, which will involve a fun band. “We’ve yet to find the fun band,” says Max. “So if you are in a fun band or know a fun band, get in touch so we can make something fun!”
Slightly more conceptual is Max’s idea of building his own gallery: “It will be called Exclusive Gallery, and will be the most exclusive gallery in the world. It will be so exclusive that it will be located somewhere in the oldest desert in the world, the Namib Desert. A gallery so exclusive that no-one will be able to get there. And when they do the doors will be locked.”
With all the projects in the pipeline as well as his ongoing work with KesselsKramer, time is what will be most valuable to Max this year. “There are so many things I would love to do, and the list of things I want to make extends every day. Finding the right time to do everything without too much delay is always a challenge.”
About the Author
Rebecca became staff writer at It’s Nice That in March 2016 before leaving the company at the end of 2017. Before joining the company full time she worked with us on a freelance basis many times, as well as stints at Macmillan Publishers, D&AD, Dazed and frieze.