Builder of Worlds
Los Angeles based Matte Painter and Art Director Maxx Burman works across film, television, video games, commercials, and design.
Maxx’s matte paintings have been featured in the films such as Godzilla, Iron Man 3 and Her, in shows including Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead and House of Cards. His video game credits include Call of Duty, League of Legends, and Dark Souls. His commercial clients include Nike, Lexus, T-Mobile, and Samsung.
At just18 Maxx started his career at Zoic studios, where he apprenticed under matte painting legend, Syd Dutton.
"I really love Escapism. When I was a kid, I’d spend hours and hours in video games, just exploring the different levels, and I was mesmerized by how games and film could transport you to another world. Pretty early on I realized I wanted to create those worlds. That idea, of creating a place for people to escape to, for them to experience the feeling of awe and wonder, that’s what keeps me doing this."
"When I was a kid, I’d spend hours and hours in video games, just exploring the different levels."
Since then, Maxx as worked on over 150 projects with studios such as Digital Domain, MPC, Sony Imageworks, Psyop, Blur, The Mill and 20+ other studios.
"I work from home now, and I have pretty great set up. I use a 27” Cintiq, and custom built PC. The software is always changing, and there are so many different tools for matte painting and concept work out there. I’m always trying new techniques and software, but my main staples are Photoshop, Nuke, Maya, and Keyshot."
"I am especially attracted to jobs that are unique in style or content, that allow me to create something new and different."
"I am especially attracted to jobs that are unique in style or content, that allow me to create something new and different. If I just finished doing a fantasy world, I want a scifi or apocalyptic next. I need to constantly be changing things up. The team is incredibly important as well. I always prioritize working with teams that are pushing themselves, trying to created the best work out there, and who have fun while doing it. That gets me excited."
We wanted to squeeze some impart some advice and wisdom from Maxx on his journey, and what he believes are the most important steps on his path so far.
"Don’t pay attention to what everyone else is doing. Don’t compare yourself to others. Everyone is on their own path, and everyone has their own influences in their work. Spend your time and energy on being the best artists you can be, pushing yourself, and finding your own way."
Maxx founded the visual effects boutique Skyward VFX in 2014. The studio quickly gained a reputation for executing high-concept cinematic work. Projects completed in Skyward’s first year included cinematics for E3, superbowl commercials, a VES winning episode of Game of Thrones. One of the Skyward's project was Far Cry Primal, where Maxx had the opportunity to work with designer, director, and visionary - Patrick Clair. Maxx later joined Elastic as Clair’s art director, where he lead teams behind title sequences such as Hbo's Westworld and Netflix's The Crown.
"At this point in my career, I’ve tried almost every medium, and I’ve worked with all the VFX studios I wanted to work with. The big blockbuster titles aren’t too important to me anymore, working with great people is. In the future, I’d like to get more hands on with art department or working one on one with directors to help design and realize their vision."
Maxx is currently focusing his time on his own project; Sleep Tight, a video game set to release this year, and his first solo art show, Disconnect. He also takes on freelance matte painting and design projects that are too exciting to pass up.
"I’m finishing up my first art show, Disconnect, which I think finally captures my style and my ability. I’m going to continue to do personal work like this, but also continue to pursue working with great directors and art departments who want my style and influence in their projects."
Maxx is using Calico for his portfolio. Calico's spotlight layout brings his featured projects upfront in a magazine feed format that gives an instant feel of his work and his style. His portfolio is split into Worlds and Designs; the former carrying all his matte painting and environment-focussed output. His Designs portfolio carries a more varied selection of his work on titles, commercials and content. Most of his projects include video backed up with stills, allowing him to highlight his direct input into the projects.