It’s not often that a digital image starts out on a cutting board with a scalpel, but that’s how each of Maxwell N. Burnstein’s artworks begins. In his sleek studio set within a renovated factory in Toronto’s historic Fashion District, the 25-year-old Canadian artist prints out digital images, then painstakingly manipulates them into fine art collages, before returning them to a digital state.
“I explore form and space through an X-acto knife, layering the single layers of papers I deconstruct into multidimensional forms,” says Burnstein. While others might opt to complete the process digitally, Burnstein is determined not to brush aside traditional techniques, focusing on craftsmanship instead.
In this digital issue, Burnstein incorporated Singapore’s HDB flats with his favourite runway images from the spring/summer season to create “mind-bending artworks,” playing with colour theory to turn the two elements into one incredible image.
“Building a cover for BAZAAR Art Singapore is a career-defining moment. I am honoured to receive this opportunity,” says Burnstein. While his work has appeared in some of the world’s most well-known fashion magazines, it’s social media platforms that he uses as his gallery.
With over 39,000 followers and counting on his Instagram account at @bymaxwell, Burnstein says, “Social media platforms are how I represent myself as an artist. From my studio in Toronto, Canada, I have been able to access publications, brands and influencers in cities [all over the world].”
The only downside to promoting work online, says Burnstein, is that artists are not always credited. “The source, share and reshare culture that the Insta-verse opened often leaves artists unrecognised, or not properly tagged,” says Burnstein. “Knowing exactly where my source material comes from, often taking part in producing it, has become a key-differentiating factor for my work.”
But the power of social media, Burnstein believes, outweighs any downsides. “My career was founded through Instagram; the reaction and my large following [have] afforded me opportunities like this one. The ability for an artist to be recognised alongside the works they make has helped build a global career.”
Having worked on multiple collaborations with W Hotels & Resorts, for instance, Burnstein is now preparing for an exhibition of his works that will be on show from January to June 2017 at W Retreat Koh Samui. Thanks to the power of social media, digital art is going places, in every sense of the word.
Photography: Mathew Guido (portrait); Showbit; 123RF. Stylist: Jaclyn Bonavota. Jacket, Neil Barrett at Holt Renfrew. Trousers, Andrew Coimbra.
This article originally appeared in the January 2017 issue of BAZAAR Art Singapore.