Artist of the Month: Max Scratchmann

Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture

People are so creative. I’m always amazed by our Artists of the Month – such talent and inspiration! That goes for Max Scratchmann, our current Artist of the Month. He’s funny, creative, and a real renaissance man. He’s an author (we’ve interviewed him about his book, Scotland for Beginners), a performer (at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this month, performing his book, the Last Burrah Sahib), a poet, and, of course, an artist. Such artistic abilities, they overflow in Max. Take a look…

Max Scratchmann - Mad King

Mad King


Max Scratchmann - Grimaldi



Please tell us about your art...

They say an illustrator is someone who couldn't make up his mind if he wanted to be a graphic designer or a fine artist and I think that describes me to a tee. 

I like to create dark, often sinister images, lush and erotic but grungy and down-at-heel - "decayed opulence" is how someone in the opera world once described me - but I'm not too comfortable with art galleries and I like to create my imagery for art directors and editors.
I get a real buzz when I walk into a bookstore and see my work on the covers of books or sit in the street and see something I've created go driving by on the side of a bus.


Artist Max Scratchmann


Artist Max Scratchmann


Artist Max Scratchmann


Artist Max Scratchmann


Artist Max Scratchmann


How/when did you start becoming an artist?

I think I've always been an artist. 

When I was a small child I always wanted to go and work for Walt Disney as an animator (not that I knew that word then, of course, but I knew the job I wanted to do and was always drawing little animations on tracing paper and then painting them in and begging my dad to film them.)
There was a brief few months during the Sputnik era when I wanted to be a cosmonaut, but I soon went back to wanting to work for Unca Walt again. When I was old enough to start applying to art schools I took a mad turn and veered towards theatre set design, which was a big mistake, but I finally fell into illustration, rather than animation, where I found my natural rhythm in my mid twenties. 

(NB:  Any theatre producers out there, I'm still up for the set/production design of an opera, the grander and more Wagnerian the better. I'm available.)


The Leopard Lady by Max Scratchmann

The Leopard Lady


Professor Crow, by Max Scratchmann

Professor Crow


Grimaldi, by Max Scratchmann



What do you draw inspiration from?

Everything, really, but my childhood in India was a major influence, and the matt-painted oil-lamp-lit cycloramas that the Indians used to create at pooja time, when I would be taken to see the huge scenarios they had created for their goddess statues.

I think I'm most inspired by man-made things, although you can't beat a sunset sky for colours, and if I'd been an impressionist I wouldn't be a Monet sitting out at dawn with my easel, but more of a Toulouse-Lautrec in the Moulin Rouge drawing the dancing girls and catching the light and shadows and the textures of the painted canvas.


Birds, by Max Scratchmann



Brain, by Max Scratchmann



Magritte, by Max Scratchmann



Where are your favorite places to create art?

In my head would be the smart-ass answer, but, really, in my studio and at my Mac, though I still like to create traditional art and make a mess, so I have a second desk for all the wet and dusty old fashioned materials.


Freak Circus, by Max Scratchmann

Freak Circus


Phoenix, by Max Scratchmann



Bondage, Margaret, by Max Scratchmann

Bondage, Margaret


What do you enjoy creating most?



How can readers find and purchase your art?

As nearly all of my art is done for commercial commissions it is difficult to buy it in forms other than book covers and magazine illustrations, but when I have exhibitions (which is rare), limited edition hand-signed prints are available.

I also have a book of dark night-creature images - Carnival - which can be bought from Blurb Books ( CARNIVAL portrays the twilight world of Clowns, Acrobats, and Hoochie-Coochie Dancers while SCARY TALES explores the darker side of the Brothers Grimm and Lewis Carroll.


Grimaldi, by Max Scratchmann



Hardandi, by Max Scratchmann



art by Max Scratchmann


Is there anything else you'd like to share with us?

I'm currently working on a wonderful children's book about two small boys who have a creepy adventure in an old museum, plus I'm also doing the illustrations for a book of funny poems about the darker side of Christmas, and I'm producing the art for that the old fashioned way, on ebony black scratchboard and covering my studio in chalk dust.


Traviata, by Max Scratchmann



Twilight Zone 1, by Max Scratchmann

Twilight Zone 1


Twilight Zone 4, by Max Scratchmann

Twilight Zone 4




For more information, please see:

Max's Poetry Sites:  and

and Max's Amazon Author page: