June 2018 Maker of the Month: Max Machen


Max is a Glasgow based illustrator who’s work you may recognise from our Christmas 2017 window. His style is characterised by its simple forms, bright colours and his undeniable sense of fun. His charming, small headed characters traverse and trapeze through bright blockish worlds that capture the imagination. 

There’s something wonderfully whimsical and absurd about the scenes he imagines. They transport us to childlike glee, they’re modern but nostalgic. With lines and colours Max conjures little 2D universes to which his characters invite you in!

We stock a series of Max’s prints in store and online.


How long have you been illustrating and what brought you to it? 

 I specialised in Illustration on a foundation course in Hull about eight years ago and then studied it at Cambridge school of art where i began printmaking and I’ve been printing and scribbling ever since. It lets me create my own world where people can have round heads balancing on square necks or arms three times the length of their legs. The idea of doing it and making money from it is a dream I and I don’t want the alarm to go off!

What were your favourite illustrated books as kid?

 Me and my brother used to share a room when we were kids and we got half an hour with the light on to read before the dreaded bedtime. I used to look at the pictures of a book called Castles (first discovery books) by Gallimard Jeunesse It was a non fiction book about a red army defending a castle from a blue army and It terrified me. There was a page where an unlucky soldier fell through a trap door into a dark, cold dungeon below the floor and I used to think about it well after the light went off. It was a big worry for me that one day i may have to defend a castle but I’m happy to say that it hasn’t been a problem for me …yet.

I was also a big fan of the hungry caterpillar by Eric Carle some of those cakes and sweets made me want to eat the cardboard pages!

Your drawings have such whimsy and charm. Where do you draw your inspiration from?

I draw my inspiration from day to day life I like to observe people (in a non creepy way). Ideas and thoughts will just pop into my head from nowhere so I carry round a small book I’ve made which is about an inch in size to write them down in. I find watching old westerns and Hitchcock films really inspiring and I find it useful to have breaks from my work. I enjoy using foreign languages in my work I’m not sure why but a word in French or Italian makes a design a hundred times better. My visual influences are artists like Herve Morvan, Saul Bass and Abraham Games as well as the Russian constructivism and Art Deco movements.

Some of your prints such as ‘moving flats’ hint at a narrative, they make us want to follow them into the paper. Have you made graphic novels or story books before?

 I was highly commended in the Macmillan prize for publishing for two books I created at university so it was something I thought I would like to try and get into. The problem is I tend to jump around from one idea to the next and creating a children’s book takes a lot of concentration and patience! I’ve got a few ingredients for a book I want to create but I’ve been thinking about it for years and want the story line to be perfect for when i make it! It’s going to have a giant called Reus in it and a bonsai garden thats for sure!

Screen printing, riso, gocco, pencil, marker - you dabble in many mediums but do you have have a favourite? 

This is a tough question they are all so much fun! If you twisted my arm though I’d have to say my loyal friend screen printing. If only I had enough room and money to buy an exposure unit I’d be a very happy chappy!

Lastly please pick a favourite product from the shop!

Love this, I admire it everytime I’m in the shop!

East End Press Astronomy Alphabet Print

or this is super nice!

Lydia Leith Sports Handkerchief