Behind Tim Maxwell’s self described austere and macabre work, lives his deep rooted love for grindcore, hard punk music.
However, music and art weren’t always the direction Maxwell had in mind. As a jock in high school, playing both football and baseball, Maxwell was very disinterested in anything dealing with art. It wasn’t until he got his first tattoo at age 18 that his creative interest was piqued. He became “enamored” with this Celtic knot serpent permanently placed on his body so he began drawing new possible tattoos he could give himself.
In two years, Maxwell began covering his body with tats designed and done by himself. Tattoos were his gateway to art and at the beginning of his career much of his work resembled tattoo-like characteristics. Though he now does more geometric work, the resemblance to body art is still apparent.
When Maxwell entered college, he initially studied kinesiology which eventually switched to business management—to please his parents—but ended up choosing fine arts to get his degree. Continuing to grow as an artist, his work contains reference to a lot of geometric concepts. At age 40 he even went back to college and studied yet another major: biochemistry. The classes he was required to take were heavily based in math where he picked up a great understanding of geometric principles. He described this time back at school as challenging “trying to squeeze my right brain into the left side.”
Though school had been made up of a multitude of majors, one constant was his music. At age 10, Maxwell was into the rap scene like Public Enemy. This interest then graduated to grunge as he turned to pot smoking and punk rock at 16. He listened to the likes of Black Flag, Dead Kennedys, Minor Threat and his ultimate favorite, Bad Religion for a solid 20 years. In this past year he has found his way to the aforementioned grindcore scene, a genre he claims that 99.9% of society would deem “obnoxious” but where he finds solace.
He described music as a vital component to his creations. “Headphones are glued to my head” in his Chelsea studio, said Maxwell. This unappealing and seemingly jarring music to most blends into the background for Maxwell and relaxes him into a “meditative state” that allows him to focus on his art. He described it like a yogi listening to their trance music, grindcore/punk music puts him in the proper state to do what he loves for hours on end. This tunnel vision approach is the reason Maxwell is ever able to complete his artwork as he can spend anywhere from 40 to 300 hours on a single piece.
Feeling most comfortable with the medium of ink, Maxwell had mentioned to have dabbled in others such as paint. At this younger stage in his career, Maxwell references it as a time when he was high enough to think his work was among the grace of Van Gogh and Picasso, his THC clouded mind believing his abstract paintings were groundbreaking. In later reflections, he realized painting wasn’t natural for him. Those times he had painted was Maxwell only trying to emulate what he thought an artist had to be. “Maybe I am a painter and just don’t know it, but I’m pretty sure I’m a drawer,” said Maxwell. As it goes to show, his journey comes full circle from getting inked to sticking with ink.