by Ilana Kohn in New Illustration on Thursday 13 November 2008

I’ve been enthralled for quite a while now with the work of San Francisco artist Maxwell Loren Holyoke Hirsch. His illustrations embody a sense of spontaneity and raw feeling, much like a skilled jazz musician feeling out a bouncing rhythm, riffing this way and that. Holyoke Hirsch has illustrated for numerous publications, including The New York Times and Fantagraphics, as well as just recently having had his first solo show, A Season in Hell, at Anno Domini Gallery in San Jose. We caught up with him recently.

Where did you go to school?
‘I haven’t been to school yet. I have always wanted to become a doctor so I might try that when I turn thirty’.

How would you describe the “arc” of your artistic journey thus far? 
‘I’d like to think of my career as being on more of a steady incline rather than some bow-shaped arc. A constant gradual incline upwards, to the end. My journey so far hasn’t been that long. It’s been about three years since I first taught myself how to put my work online and that’s when it all began for me. I would update quite feverishly and email random people to get responses. I didn’t really care about anything except showing people my work and I didn’t expect much. People just started asking me to do illustrations and I was sort of forced into it’.

You have a very distinctive, spontaneous sketchbook feel to your work. How would you say it has evolved since you began?
‘I know a lot more about color, balance and texture now. My work is maturing and getting more fun and serious at the same time. Some days I am less spontaneous than others. I have sort of evolved to a point where I don’t mess up things up as much as I used to’.

maxwell loren holyoke hirsch