5 Minutes With Maxwell N. Burnstein, the Artist Behind Our May Cover Shoot

ICYMI, our May cover, featuring supermodel Jourdan Dunn, dropped this week (you can read the cover story here) and we’re so excited to introduce you to the artist behind the shoot, Maxwell N. Burnstein. (AKA the man behind the gorgeous flowers!)

With 41.5k Instagram followers, his work has clearly garnered attention. We chatted with Burnstein about his creative process. You can also peep photos of his work while it was in progress, as well as the finished product, in the gallery below.

Where do you get your inspiration?
My analog collages tend to be very thematic, creating a cohesive narrative through reconstructing photographs into multidimensional artworks. The movement of flowers was my inspiration for the May issue of FASHION. I wanted the flowers to sweep across the cover and inside spread, highlighting the changing season and styles of spring.

Do you prefer to work with direction or leniency?
Now that I’m sought after for my collage work and artistic direction, clients often extend me full control. Approaching my artistic practice as a businessman, I am trusted to achieve their set objectives in a thoughtful and creative way that resonates with their audience. My art exhibits fulfill my visions and bring Canadian culture to the forefront of global art scenes.

How do you decide where to cut into the clothes to create your work?
I can see it within the final images I art direct, source or am given, purposefully removing the areas that define the photograph. Stripping away everything not essential to the photograph, the collaged layers fill the gaps in the viewers’ mind.

How did you learn to do this? Is it something you came up with on your own?
Collage is something I have explored throughout my youth, having no formal training in mixed media or crafting. Establishing a style in the last year of my undergraduate studies, I have continually refined my technique and pushed my abilities, working on more complicated compositions and stretching the scale of my exhibit works.

What are your favourite style of collages to do?
I enjoy working on extensive series of artworks—projects that require 15 or more artworks. When scale is applied, the artistic process can become grueling, requiring concentration for extended periods. The process of building a body of work that tells a story that you can take viewers through is the most gratifying experience.

What was the process of working on the Jourdan shoot like?
Working with the design team to continually refine the floral motif across the cover and inside cover story helped find a beautiful balance between photographer Max Abadian’s imagery and my applied artwork. I sourced the photography of flowers from Dusty St Amand, Mauricio Rodriguez and Zoltan Toth, looking towards social media to source the best selection of images for use. I used techniques such as weaving, layering and just essentially taking one dimensional paper and turning it into multi dimensional artwork. That was done with an exacto knife, tape and glue.

How did you play off the clothes/makeup?
The flowers were used to emphasize the movement, colour and shape of the garments. Each of the artworks highlight the style of the spring season.

What is your dream project?
I would like to undertake an extensive exhibit in Toronto to show my national patrons the work I have been able to share so freely abroad. My rising artistic influence in Canada has come as a result of working towards an elevated status overseas. Acting to champion Canada’s fashion and artistic industries abroad, I want to share the work within reach of these influences. Stay posted as I start putting the pieces together for an art exhibit that Canada deserves.