“I think what most influences my creative energy is to make work which focuses on inclusivity and representation in its broadest form”
Next up on Amsterdam Faces – a series highlighting upcoming creatives in our beloved city – we talk with Max Heuvelman. Based in The Hague, the model told us more about his inspiration and experiences as an aspiring stylist and creative director; shifting from being in front of the camera to working behind it. Born in Rotterdam (but having spent lots of time in Amsterdam and Paris) we invited Max for a chat to learn about his practice and his future plans.
Max! Nice to see you. How are you?
I’m good, thank you! Nice to see you too.
To start off, would you give me some insight into what you do, and what your creative practice includes?
I mainly do modelling, styling and content creation, next to that, I also do creative direction and production. I like to combine all of these together to have a perspective on each side of the project.
Especially as a model, I can imagine that it’s interesting to switch sides and also be behind the camera!
Exactly, because I love to be in front of the camera, but I love being behind the camera just as much. Also, if you know a little bit about everything, it makes it easier. Like, I know what a model likes and doesn’t like, as well as the stylist and director.
So you have got the whole perspective. Has the fashion industry always been a passion of yours? What did you want to do when you grew up?
I definitely had an interest in the creative industry, but I didn’t really necessarily know what I wanted. But along the way, when modelling came on my path, I got the opportunity to look closely at the industry, alongside exploring my other interests whilst being on set and meeting new people. I have really liked styling throughout my journey, but I always wanted to style something with my own vision. Of course, I can work with a client’s vision, but I like to create full concepts from my personal perspective for the people I work with and then amplify my styling with that.
Is that the direction you also want to go in the future? Creative Direction and styling?
What’s your main source of inspiration?
I think what most influences my creative energy is to do work which focuses on inclusivity and representation in its broadest form, which sounds maybe a little bit basic, but it’s really important to me to give a clear reflection of society in my work. For example, the last project I did with Jozef Wright was called Tiger meets Tom, and was inspired by Tom of Finland – the homoerotic drawings. His work has often been called the most influential creator of gay pornographic images, even though we’ve noticed it still lacks full representation and has a really white-centred perspective. Some of Tom’s work does involve black men, but those examples to us seemed to come from a very fetishised point of view. We wanted to add a different perspective by using a Black man, yet focusing on empowerment instead of fetishising. We combined this with added inspiration from erotic Black male-focused magazines from the 70s–00s, as well as Tiger Tyson, a well-known pornstar. Using these perspectives we created an editorial that merges the source, Tom of Finland, as well as Black cultural influences in eroticism. This is something that really inspires me, changing the perspective of art we already have out there to make it new and personal. I like to switch it up and amplify it in a different way.
I get that. Inclusivity can sometimes feel like a ‘trend’, but until it has been converted in a genuine way, it is essential we continue to pay attention.
It is clear that a lot of brands are only looking for someone to fit a profile… for example trying to book someone with an androgynous look who looks non-binary yet doesn’t identify that way. Not giving an actual non-binary person the platform and resources to grow. It still feels like people behind the scenes are saying, “oh, we need a person of colour in there, we need someone that’s trans, we need someone that’s this…” It is still disingenuous.
Ugh. Which defeats everything they are “attempting” to achieve.
Then you’re still like — acting.
So you’re from The Hague. How does The Hague and the Netherlands as a whole influence your practice?
Well, I grew up and lived for most of my life in Rotterdam. Then I moved to the Hague, I think three years ago, mainly for school. Also, my boyfriend Jozef Wright already lived there. I love the peace and the quietness here because we live in Scheveningen – close by the beach and surrounded by nature – but, the creative scene is not as big in The Hague. So I often get my and inspiration from being outside, my creative friends around me, and by going to places which inspire me. Which can be in Amsterdam, but also Paris, and I try to be in Paris as often as possible.
Yeah, I get that. Each city offers a different dynamic.
Speaking of a creative environment, which artists are you looking up to, or are there any collaborations or shoots that you would dream about doing?
I really look up to the stylist and editor in chief Ib Kamara. I really like his vision. I just love the whole concept and direction of his work. I would love to go into that direction as well.
Oh cool! The heavy contrasts he creates are super interesting. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned so far working as a creative?
To eventually let go and just go with the flow. I like to prepare everything that I’m going to do, but, in reality… it’s never going to happen exactly like that. I’ve learnt that if it doesn’t work out, I still have time to find another way and still end up making my vision come to life. Sometimes, you have just got to let it go.
Yeah. Not stress too much. You’re going out tonight. What are you wearing?
I will probably grab a nice tight top with some baggy jeans or baggy pants and wear either some nice boots or chunky shoes. Put on my hoodie and leather jacket. Take my bag quick. Put my glasses in there cause I never know what’s going to happen…
…You always need those glasses. Gotta keep it fresh!
Keep it fresh.
Photography by Jaane Jain
Talent Max Heuvelman
Creative direction, interview & production by Felix Razum
Lighting assistance Kikki Van Den Berg