It’s safe to say that no Russian illustrator has benefited from YouTube quite the way Ivan Maximov has. Soon after his animated shorts appeared on the site last year, they began making the viral rounds, with responses full of exclamation points and OMGs. It was a surprising turn for the Moscow native, who had worked as an engineer in a space research institute from 1982 until 1986, when he began taking courses in directing and screenwriting. By 1989, he had released his student film, From Left to Right. The four-minute short follows characters who evolve and morph along a road; Maximov calls it “a sketch of transformation and vanity.” The films 5/4 (awarded top prize at a 1991 Moscow festival), Provincial School, and Bolero continued his mad hatter’s oeuvre, in which a tender pathos and slapstick coexist in uniquely surreal environments. But Maximov disavows any chemical intervention. “I never try drugs,” he says. “Many people have no channel to their unconscious, so their fantasy and imagination can work nice only with the help of drugs. They cannot realize that someone can be constructed otherwise.”
What are your most essential tools? Black pen and paper, or Micrografx Picture Publisher 6.0 and Wacom.
Who first taught you to draw? My father. I’ve drawn every day since I was 4 years old.
What do you like most about being an illustrator? I like the limitations of the material, like a puzzle.
What do you think you would be doing if you weren’t drawing? I’d be part of a wild nature research and rescue party.
Do you think your work is Russian in any way? No. It is cosmopolitan. It is just mine.
How does your environment affect your aesthetic? I just like wild nature.
Where did this love of nature come from? The theme of nature is from childhood. I had a mother who loved nature. She was a physicist, in controlled fusion, and she loved biology and zoology as well. We went camping every summer, and I got used to getting pleasure from wild nature. I understood that I love it more than civilization. This appears in my work all the time.
Where would you like to see your work most? In the list of interests in the profile of girls’ LiveJournals. It helps me to find new girlfriends.
What’s the number-one thing that gives you energy and inspiration to keep making art? Love and sex!! Or when I feel that I am doing something genial.
What gives you the most pleasure about doing the kind of work you do? See above.
And finally: Do you have a motto or favorite quotation? All you need is love! Love is all you need!