Maxwell Paternoster is an artist/illustrator based in London. Maxwell studied animation and illustration at the University of Westminster but he focused on the illustration aspect more after the first year because animation was very time consuming and he had more of an interest in drawing. For the past few years, he has managed to scrape by with a sole focus on illustration which he finds very satisfying.
How would you best describe your style of art?
My style of art is the sort of doodly drawing cartoony character line work sort of style that you see about the place in various manifestations. I grew up with UK style comics (Beano, Wizzer and Chips, Viz etc ) and in my early teens some underground American comics with such artists as Robert Crumb. I also was influenced by all the animated cartoons, Looney Toons, Tom and Jerry, Felix The Cat and all that sort of thing.
We see you work with colour and Black & White, do you find one more difficult than the other?
My main strength is drawing really, I can do drawing efficiently. All the other things that come with trying to masquerade as a useful commercial art guy (colour, design etc) are like extra skills that I am somewhat mediocre at. So with that in mind, black and white is easier by default, but yea colours are cool. I have focussed my learnings on improving my ability with colour in the past, which has helped. Actually, it can be challenging to create a striking image just in black and white, sometimes the image can be too light and thin, devoid of weight if that makes sense. Something I also find difficult is creating a black and white image to be displayed on a black background such as a T-shirt. quite flummoxing that.
How did you get introduced into creating art on helmets?
I think originally the first one I did was when my pal Richard Baybutt @baybutt got enthusiastic about decorating motorcycle stuff, he got me to do a tank and that probably spurred me on to do a helmet etc. If I remember correctly, I had created my motorcycle blog 'Corpses From Hell' and Richard assisted with the growth of said blog. He's come round giving it all that about how I should do this that and the other, at one stage, he bought this Honda CX 500 tank round and said smash some paint on that and I’ll film you. He contributed many creative ideas in the early stages of that blog, which resulted in helmet paint jobs, photoshoots and t-shirts which actually opened some doors for me. Richard pushed this other idea we had about painting a Ruby helmet and creating a Painting/Motorcycle riding video this one time. We did it, behold, for it is still online https://vimeo.com/66554040
Which project are you most proud of?
Oooo not sure ay, there are a few looking back, I think that changes based on my mood or something. I'm probably most proud of some of the videos I’ve made because I did the music too but yea nobody cares about other peoples stupid music lol. I am quite proud of some of the more striking helmets, such as the Nexx Full Face Jobby I did for a customer. That’s because I went full ham on the detail, proper magnifying glass style, I spent waaayy too long on it but yea came out good. I find if I look back on some art and cringe, it’s bad, but if I look back on some art and still like it, then I can be proud of said art.
So you’re a musician as well?
I took it upon myself to learn bass guitar and all kinds of music things years ago, I then went around as a jobbing bass player in jazz bands (Hotel Foyers, Garden Parties and Leisure Centre functions). I then stopped doing that and just started doing my own music at home, on the computer. I create music for my videos nowadays - hence the music on the animations I have on my Instagram feed.
What kind of obstacles did you face at the start of this journey?
Flaming hoop waheyy budum tsss... naa but seriously probably money and stuff, still the same now tbh. Yea so as one navigates this career path one sees colossal fluctuations in the harvest of wealth. In the beginning, there was much baroness in the bank vault and this changes like the seasons. One minute it’s all good and one is 'flush' as it were, and the next minute one is grovelling for scraps out the back of Chicken Cottage, but yea that’s the path I chose which is cool yea. Also, in the beginning, I did actually have a full-time job as a Gold Leaf Gilder, which I did for quite a few years and fitting the illustration in around that was a challenge.
How did you reach the following that you have now?
I seem to have a niche in the motorcycle area of illustration, and I have a lot of followers via that side of things from doing helmets, jackets, being in group shows and bike events etc. I had a blog (mentioned earlier) called 'Corpses From Hell' and this was before social media had really kicked off. People were following and reading blogs back then. The blog did quite well, I would find pictures of motorcycles I liked and post them on there with links and information. I gained quite a following on there and started doing T-shirts and merch. A lot of those fans have followed me ever since so that is nice.
What advice you would give to aspirational artists?
When you rise above the poultry, the rain comes from the top of the clouds into the sun so rain bathe.