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Regulars / The Graduates 2017

Maxwell Granger’s refreshingly disparate and tongue-in-cheek portraiture

Words:

Bryony Stone

North Yorkshire-born graduate Maxwell Granger ended up at London College of Communication after a short-lived trip to rival art school Camberwell. “I went round Camberwell initially with my best mate, and we hated it so much that we quite literally pegged it down the road all the way to Peckham Rye,” Maxwell grins. “We both decided – while running – that LCC was for us.”

“I chose the course because it seemed pretty broad and not like most of the other illustration courses out there,” Maxwell tells us of his experience studying Illustration and Visual Media at LCC. “I knew that I wouldn’t be able to handle a conventional illustration course as I’d get bored. It worked out pretty okay.” Where other tutors might have steered him sharply in the direction of a pencil, Chris and Angela, the tutors of the school’s left-of-centre course encouraged Maxwell to pick up a camera and focus his lens through shiny veneer of the art school bubble. His style, a curious collision of self-conscious with brazen, quickly earned him attention from _Mushpit _, Coeval, Vice, ShowStudio, Trip, MPAF, 1 Granary, Splash And Grab, High Snobiety — and a recent commission from It’s Nice That which sent the photographer squirrelling underground deep into the TfL lost property archives.

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“I’d describe my style as pretty disparate, inconsistent, not very stylish,” Maxwell says with characteristic irreverence. “I approach everything with a very conflicting and contradictory approach. A lot of me pretends that things are really cool and funny when they’re not but I think I’m quite convincing, and usually bring people round to great and normal ideas such as: brands should make collections designed exactly in the style of really cheap market fakes because they’re heavily branded and clearly what the people want.”

Beneath tongue-in-cheek bravado, Maxwell is quickly learning that the creative world moves fast, furiously, and doesn’t look back. “My favourite project was probably my final major as it was a load of photos of middle-aged women from my hometown, which now as I’m writing this, seems like a pretty played out thing to do that you’d see on any online photography blog. However at the time of doing it, it felt a lot more all-encompassing, whole and really quite interesting.”

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The recent graduate has also discovered that when it comes to work, you get out what you put in — as long as you remember to sign up that is. “If you’re looking to be taught how to do something, you have to sign up for it, otherwise you can’t spend three years moaning about not being able to use the acid etching room,” he says. “You can however, spend three years bragging about how you pretended to be inducted into the acid etching room and waste your valuable university time making some pretty ‘experimental’ ‘lo-fi’ and generally low-quality printing work.”

Despite Maxwell’s somewhat controversial belief that “without a fine art course, LCC is just more of a school dedicated to housing everyone in the world who likes 35mm flash photography, queuing up outside shops for clothes and complaining about people who queue up outside shops for clothes”, he admits that the past three years have seen a significant development in both his creative ability and assurance. “I feel more confident about the stupid ideas I have now, and since gaining a minute degree of commercial validation, I’ve been able to make my ideas slightly more convincing in order to rope people into doing stuff they wouldn’t probably ordinarily do.”

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Supported by A/D/O

Founded by MINI, A/D/O is a creative space in Greenpoint, Brooklyn dedicated to exploring new boundaries in design. At its heart is the Design Academy, which offers a range of programming to professional designers, intended to provoke and invigorate their creative practice.