Play Space - Interview with Maxwell Holyoke Hirsch

Maxwell Holyoke-Hirsch is an illustrator, graphic designer, and artist living in New York City. A few of his clients include: Bloomberg Businessweek, Bloomberg View, Fortune, GQ, The New Yorker, The New York Times, Nickelodeon, RealSimple, Runners World, The Walrus, VSA Partners, The Washington Post. He is proficient at basketball, drumming, and skateboarding.

Pablo de Pinho - Do you work both free-hand and digitally in your illustrations? 

Maxwell Holyoke Hirsch - The short answer is both. My illustrations start out as small thumbnail sketches. But sometimes I concept those thumbnails in my head and dive right into a final, which might be executed digitally. I've found that if the idea is strong in your imagination before you do anything, it has the potential to be memorable with its viewers regardless of whether is created by hand or mouse.

Is it challenging illustrating for an article? Is it a lot different than your own independent creative practice?

With every editorial assignment there’s an opportunity to challenge yourself to come up with an image that illuminates the article in a compelling way. Sometimes it feels like a kind of adaptation. Other times I’m trying to add a small something to the article's message that sets it off just so. The biggest difference though: creative work is prompted by the self, the inside, while illustrating for an article requires I interpret a subject outside of myself.

Illustrating for news outlets like the New York times, do you find your work to be political, or is your illustration a visual vehicle for politics?

There’s a bit of both there. The illustration work is certainly a vehicle, but at times I also intend or assume the work as political. I’ve been extremely fortunate to be able to create images that relate to issues that mean something to me. That really makes the whole process more poignant and more rewarding.

Are there any specific cartoons or graphic novels you live to read?

Ninja Scroll, Vampire Hunter D, Hard Boiled. 


Motifs of music and instruments are very prominent in your work, are you a musician? What music do you listen to while creating? 

I play the drums and spent a fair amount of time making electronic music. My father recorded with Buddy Rich and some other great folks, so I’ve always been close to music.
In your work, how much of it is derived from your subconscious?

I would say a lot. The fact is, there are times when it’s necessary to not think about things too much. That play space allows for experimentation and flexibility.


What do you do when not working?

I like to explore the city, look at art, eat food, read books (lately Donna Tart), play a guitar, roll down a grassy hill, ride a bike, play basketball, or any sport, see a friend, take photos, etc.

In one of your older shows, I've noticed a panel tag by Remio. How often do you collaborate with other artists? Or instead of a collaboration, was it found material? How often do you utilize found objects in your work?

I like to collaborate with as many folks as I can. At the time I had a place in San Francisco that enabled me to produce a lot of work and meet a lot of kindred spirits. As for found material, I tend to go in and out. I’ve always liked making things with my hands, and the process of honing, shaping, recasting some already-existing thing into a form it previously wasn’t is always interesting to me.

How does your work in the street differ from work inside the gallery?

I would say it’s more sporadic and and loose.
What are some of your upcoming projects?

  1. A children's book 
  2. A show of small sketchbook drawings
  3. New limited edition prints
  4. Clothing line