A conversation with Max Patté
Max Patté is a British-born artist based in Miramar, perhaps best known for his beloved Solace in the Wind piece located on the Wellington waterfront. In the midst of his four month trip abroad we caught up with Max to gain insight into his process, design philosophy and thoughts on buying art for appreciation vs. investment.
Occupation: Artist. Based in: Miramar. Place you call home: Somewhere in the Mediterranean. Favourite piece of art you own: The painting my mum painted for Beau when he was born. I’ve probably spent more time looking at that one piece (at all hours of the night!) than any other work.
What does a typical day look like for you?
A 7:30am start with a coffee and notebook at one of my favourite cafes. Each day can vary massively depending on which projects I have on the go, my favourite days are definitely the quiet ones where I’m in the studio all day with only one thing I need to focus on. I try hard to structure my days as efficiently as possible and am a creature of routine so a coffee break and lunch are a critical (if quick) part of my day. I’m out the door by five and home to help get the children fed and to bed, but the laptop and phone rarely go to sleep.
What is your favourite thing about being an artist?
Having freedom and control over my own time.
How would you describe your work to a five year old?
Like a giant bag of carefully arranged Smarties.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
Being able to have my whole family at my London solo exhibition in 2016.
Describe your design process—what do you do and how do you do it?
The processes I use in a current series of work are what usually inspire the next; accidents or discoveries that I make along the way can spark new ideas. Inspiration might come from the natural world, from science, architecture, fashion, a piece of emerging technology or simply through the act of play. These sparks of inspiration turn into a digital or physical sketch that can end up as months of development involving research, testing and refinement, 3D modelling, rendering, 3D printing, paint and material tests—all before any practical work on the final piece is started. I aim to work to my own self-imposed deadlines and budgets, but they’re only guidelines. If a work requires more to get it where I need it to be I try not to let anything stand in the way of the final result.
You use a combination of handwork and CNC/digital processes to create your works. What can you share about this balance and the benefits/drawbacks of each?
I absolutely love using new and emerging technologies in my work, 3D printing and digital modelling has revolutionised what I do. We can digitally render what looks like a finished work on my studio wall or 3D print a maquette and understand what a full-size piece may look like—and create a myriad of variations incredibly fast. Almost every piece in my collection involves technology to make, and like all technology it can occasionally glitch or break down which can be extremely costly, not to mention frustrating. It means I’m reliant on millions of tiny parts and invisible signals doing their job, and sometimes I’d rather just depend on my own hands. I always want the viewer to find evidence of how the work is made, even though the works are largely created by a machine it’s important to be able to see the ‘brushstrokes’.
What is your perception of the difference between pure appreciation of art versus art as an investment?
In today’s market where auction results, record prices and Jeff Koons sized gains are so widely broadcast it’s almost impossible to think of one without the other. That is of course if you’re looking at the art with a mind to possibly buy. If you’re in the Musee Prado looking at a Caravaggio it’s a different story; it has to be all about pure appreciation.
You recently began a journey overseas for four months, what can you tell us about the purpose of this trip?
Firstly to introduce our new five-month-old girl Winnie to her family back home in the UK and Ireland, but also to take some time for ourselves and establish what the next chapter will look like. We’ll be in London, New York, Ibiza and Vienna, but mostly Portugal this time—I’m writing this from the terrace of our little Airbnb in Mallorca where apart from this, it’s all about the holiday. I’ll need to plant a forest when we get back to NZ to offset the giant carbon footprint this trip leaves behind.