Max Kulchinsky: He is a guy who wears several hats. As an artist, dot connector, and builder, among other things, he has assisted artists all over the world in getting their work out there while also producing outstanding works himself. We had the opportunity to sit down with Max and talk about art, networking, excellent art, and better people.
What is your name/where are you based?
Max Kulchinsky, New York City.
Tell us a little bit about yourself!
I’m a creative person who worked in the music industry for the last eight or so years and recently quit to work for myself and focus on art and Web3. I got into NFTs towards the end of 2020 and had never sold my art before then. In the last year, I’ve felt more encouraged to share my art than ever before and my passion for art led to me curating.
What are the main mediums/mediums you work in?
It really depends on the day and where my head and heart are at. Overall, I consider myself a conceptual artist, but for the last year and change I’ve been creating more in the moment.
A lot of blue lately. Mostly acrylic paintings. I think I’ve most enjoyed making large-scale painting/graffiti pieces on big pieces of sheetrock that have a mixed media feel. So far, I’ve made a series of three of them, and the first one was the first physical piece of art I ever sold. Paint pens are fun.
Very recently, I started creating on Photoshop again, which is fun and reminds me of how I started making things. Sometimes I use Procreate on the iPad. I’ve also made some generative art and really want to make more in the future.
“TOP OF THE MORNING” (2021, acrylic and paint pen on sheetrock)
How long have you been creating?
This is a tough one to answer. The first time I shared my art for real was in 2018 with a project called “GOOD LUCK” which for me is a lifelong project that continues on/bleeds into everything I do. The project is an ongoing study of identity, iconography, and primary colors.
I guess I started when I was a kid, though. Drawing on my walls, making really bad crafty stuff, and later using Photoshop to reimagine what my favorite album artworks could look like.
What are your inspirations behind your creations?
I’m incredibly inspired by my friends. I’m lucky to know a lot of talented artists and musicians.
Music definitely inspires me a lot. I credit Kanye’s Graduation for inspiring me to dream big and pursue creative endeavors.
I’m also driven a lot on a spiritual level. There’s something in me that knows my purpose is to bring people together and create things that challenge peoples’ ideas. I’m hoping to create something that raises questions every time someone looks at it.
Tell us a little about your creative process.
Lately, I’ve been in my apartment playing records, usually loudly. It will start with “Promises” by Floating Points & Pharoah Sanders, or “Tread” by Ross From Friends. And once I get into a flow I’ll start painting or making something digital.
From time to time, I’ll have ideas of what I want to make, but oftentimes it just happens in the moment.
Usually, after a couple of albums or so, I’ll have a piece that’s either going to turn into something or not. Most of my best work happens in one sitting or just a couple of sessions.
“pieces of a man” (2020, acrylic on paper)
Where do you want to see your art going in the future?
Stylistically, I see my art going in a few different directions in the future. I’m mostly excited by all the possibilities of Web3, and also merging the tech and culture with IRL experiences. I’m really excited at the possibilities of generative art, and potentially combining my physical works with AI. I also see myself revisiting “GOOD LUCK” in the near future and creating the next chapter of that project. There’s a lot and I hope I live to do it all, and more!
What are you trying to express through your work?
I am trying to express questions. I don’t think any of us truly have any answers, just the ability to ask questions and theorize, tell our own stories. When I make more conceptual work, I want people to engage with it and really walk away with a new perspective or question. When I make more abstract work, or something more “aesthetic” and less conceptual, I’m still hoping for that effect, to an extent.
Confusion is the greatest compliment to me. I’d much rather someone feel like they don’t have an answer than just enjoy a pretty picture. I really don’t want to make anything predictable or boring.
What do you think of the current art scene (or at least what you see on Twitter)? Where would you like to see it going in the future?
I love the scene right now! Discovering and meeting so many amazing artists has been really inspiring.
I would like to see more of the lesser-known or promoted talent to get the flowers they deserve. Particularly artists of different backgrounds. A lot of folks are not getting the same looks from big companies, galleries, and so on.
I would also like to see more artists taking bigger risks. Making larger-scale works, trying new technologies. There is definitely a lane yet to be filled by people with big ideas and the will to execute on them. I’m constantly impressed by the artists who keep pushing to the next level and building their own worlds.
You’ve been instrumental in curating shows this last year and a bit, can you talk a little more about those? What are some of your favorite memories + achievements you’re most proud of?
I started curating last year out of necessity. Seeing so many amazing artists online while in COVID lockdowns, I kept thinking to myself: “We’re all about to get vaccinated. The world is going to open back up. People are craving the things we’ve missed for a year. Why isn’t this artist or that artist being shown in museums, or even galleries?” It didn’t really seem like anyone with influence in the traditional art world or even Web3 was interested in uplifting what is really going on in the culture.
So I approached a small gallery here in NYC and pitched them on this big idea for a show called “Metaphysical.” The main idea was to bring artists making both physical and digital art into an IRL gallery, and showcase both types of work from each artist. I wanted to juxtapose mediums and show the similarities and differences between each artist’s mediums. I really wanted people who didn’t get NFTs to walk away and at least ask questions about NFTs, rather than dismiss them.
Most of my favorite artists came on board for that show and it was a big success, after loads of hard work. A lot of people walked away impacted by that experience. The art was amazing, and all the NFTs sold. It was the first time most of the artists in the show were exhibited in NYC, or any gallery at all.
My favorite memories from that experience are definitely working on a lot of behind-the-scenes set up with friends, especially the homie Squibs. We work on a lot of projects together, and he really helped bring my vision to life with the flyers and other components that tied the experience together. He also had a banging DJ set at the afterparty.
Another memory that comes to mind is having two of the featured artists, Sean Williams and Sophie Sturdevant, over for dinner the next night, and them being just the greatest humans. They were so grateful and excited about the whole show, and us bonding through this tangible, real life experience we shared. Both of them heavily encouraged me to take this seriously and keep going with it.
The result of that show for me personally encouraged me that I could pursue art and curation as a career, which I’m focused on now, about 6 months later. A big goal of mine is to scale this show to a larger production and bring it to more cities.
A few months later, I met even more NFT/art Twitter friends IRL at NFT NYC, which led to doing lots of stuff at Art Basel Miami. I was planning on going to Basel for the first time, for fun, and that week turned into non-stop work (and a lot of fun). But mostly work, haha. Directly after NFT NYC, I started calling friends to talk about what we liked and didn’t like about the week of events. Pretty much everyone not associated with a major platform or whatever agreed that there was a bit of an elitist, exclusionary feeling in the air around some events, and we wanted to create a space that felt welcoming. Specifically to marginalized communities.
Very quickly, a call with my friend Modi turned into a three-way call with our mutual friend Chris Cadaver. I mentioned what we were talking about to Latashá, and she wanted to join forces on putting something together. With about two weeks of work and group chats and group calls, and raising over $100K, we produced an amazing one day event called ZORATOPIA IRL.
Around the same time, I was asked to show art at the digital gallery at DCentralcon, which is an NFT/De-Fi conference. I told them I would if I could bring some friends to show alongside, which quickly led to them asking me to curate the entire gallery. I also had the opportunity to show and bring a small group of artists into the NFT BZL event.
I asked over 60 artists, predominantly artists of color, women, and other underrepresented voices to participate and really own that platform. As it was all coming together, it felt like a meeting of the TL’s dopest artists, so jokingly, and then very seriously, I called the show “For The TL.” Now that group of artists is something of a loose collective. We will definitely be showing more work together and experimenting with some cool, fun ideas this year.
What’s one goal for yourself for 2022?
One goal I have in 2022 is to prove the concept of these IRL events, particularly “Metaphysical” on a much larger scale through an incredible experience. It’s going to happen.
Words of advice for people just beginning to create/experienced artists?
Don’t be afraid. May sound corny, but pretty much all creatives face a level of imposter syndrome from time to time, so seriously, just make stuff you wanna see in the world and share it. Be yourself. Double down on you and bring your value and values to the world.
Any shoutouts to people?
I want to shout out literally everyone, and it’s gonna be tough. I have to shout out my girlfriend Sara, who is incredibly supportive of my creative endeavors and is an amazing creator herself!
Man like Squibs, who trusted my crazy ass when I called him about getting into NFTs in 2020. Sean and Sophie, y’all are literally family and I love you guys so much. Elijah Kuhaupt, aka the GOAT. Chris Cadaver, another GOAT.
In fact, let me list more GOATs who inspire me literally everyday: Vinnie Hager, MEW (<3), Latashá, Sirsu, Jah, Karisma, Bobbi Cai, Adam Zafrian, Dimithry Victor, Myriad, Zainah Jaz aka Blacksneakers, Wolfbelly :), Niall Ashley, Bryan Brinkman, Elise Swopes, Bria, Yos, Klara, SamJ, Null. I’m gonna feel so terrible for forgetting people, but I’m trying to list everyone. Rich Nardo, can’t forget FAITH LOVE, Heno, Stonez, peenpoon, NICKYCHULO. There’s a crazy amount of amazing people I’ve met through all this.