A New York transplant originally from DC, Max Mueller has been painting murals and making skate graphics for the past few years. Last week we met up in Brooklyn and he showed me some of his favorite skate spots and places he’s painted. Afterward, Max and I sat down at 169 bar to talk art, skating, and working with Street Plant among other things. Interview along with some of Max’s work below.
Name: Maximilian Mueller
Hometown: Washington D.C.
Current Location: Brooklyn, NY
Years skating: 16 years
Years painting: 6 years
Fun session today man, the roll gate you showed me was your first mural in the city right? How long ago was that and what made you move to NYC?
First “legal” mural haha. It was under three years ago. I came to NY to pursue a further career in art & design. DMV (DC, Maryland, Virginia) is almost like stagnant. There’s only so far you can go there and I saw a lot of opportunity here. That being said, Brooklyn is a little oversaturated but I love it.
How do you like skating up here vs. DC?
I love New York man, there’s always another spot around the corner. A lot of people would argue the same about DC but it’s illegal to skate Pulaski/freedom plaza. A cop will either wreck you or take your board and arrest you. Just cruising down the streets of NYC is so fun and the community here is good.
For those who don’t know, what kind of projects are you currently working on?
So currently I’m an illustrator at Street Plant. Mike Vallely has really helped pushed my career further. This month, I’m in the adidas showcase art show at Soho Arts Club along with showing some customized slip-ons at House of Vans.
That’s pretty sick, how did you get involved with Mike V?
I straight up just sent him an image of my main character Wilty doing a street plant through social media and he was immediately responsive. I told him I’d love to collaborate with Street Plant and this past Christmas Eve he responded to me. We hopped on a call a few days later and I’ve been living the dream ever since.
Congrats on that man. Was that your first connection to the skate industry?
Um, yeah and an amazing one at that. At the same time I got connected with NY Skateboarding through Alex Corporan and now I have a few other projects in the works. I’ve done a lot of the NYC Skate Night flyers and had an art show at Leftfield on March 23rd.
Yeah Alex is a good dude. I remember first moving up here and getting in with NY Skateboarding, it really is a different community in NYC. There’s good and bad experiences, what have you learned about working in the industry so far?
Damn, in terms of bad experiences just not getting paid or being underpaid. People taking your graphics. It goes for every industry, we live in an era where people like to rip off artists. I don’t want to name anybody in particular but I’ve definitely been stiffed and let down. But regardless, I’m always stoked to do collaborations and work with companies I like and respect.
Speaking of companies and people you like and respect, who has influenced you in skating and in art?
Definitely Mark Gonzales. Ed Templeton also was a big influence and Neil Blender too. When I first met Jason Dill, it was on the street and he was rolling with his whole pack. I showed him my card and he was like damn I love your work already, it reminds me of Neil Blender. I was really hyped that was a huge compliment to me. More currently, Jeremy Fish, Michael Sieben, Jay Croft & Russ Pope. There are so many others but they stand out in my mind.
I feel you on that, Templeton has been a huge influence on my work. Do you feel like there’s a crossover between the process of getting a trick and the process of completing a painting?
Yes! Inherently, skateboarders (and that includes skaters that are artists and vice versa) have tenacity and perseverance. You may fall but you’re gonna get back up and keep trying and its the same thing with painting and trying to have a career in art. It always circles back. I never had the skill level to realistically consider trying to be a pro skater, I was always more geared towards making it as an artist. More specifically to be an artist in the skate industry.
I think that’s a really good way to explain it. Well, let’s wrap this up…any thank you’s, shout out’s or last words?
Thanks to Street Plant, Mike V, everyone at NY Skateboarding, I’m forgetting a bunch of people but shout out to all my hometown homies. As for last words, I think the most important thing is to keep being involved and keep going, don’t become stagnant.
Cool, alright let’s do these shots!