Maxim Arnautov

I would like to understand how you position yourself? Are you a digital artist, fashion designer, digital content producer? Or do you manage to combine all this?
I can't call myself by any name from the list, but by all at the same time - perhaps, yes. It was so difficult for me to choose what to do that I just started doing what is in my head now. I'm just expressing myself and my vision.
How did your journey in character design, clothing, and creating digital pieces begin?
A year ago I noticed that metavers and digital clothing are a big trend. Considering that I love fashion and understand it, I just decided to start doing what I can and what I like. Simultaneously learning new skills in 3D, of course.
How did you join SXEMA?
I think I met Eva when SXEMA did an exhibition at Supermetal space together with 2mrw studio, I also exhibited there. Over time, she just started inviting me into projects.
Your nickname on Instagram is Neondazer, it's not all that simple, is it? I saw your work for Jetlag contest, you created the character “Neondazer” as well.
When I created my artist account, I thought about the nickname for about a week. A few days later, two thoughts came to my mind one by one. First, I remembered the movie "Neon Demon", which is just connected with the theme of the fashion world. And then I remembered that there is a fashion magazine “Dazed”, so I decided to combine two words in one nickname, as graffiti artists often do. Literally, it turns out I am a "Neon Stunner".
How not to lose yourself and start making your product with your own style? After all, at the start of a career, you have to use a lot of references and even copy works to fill your hand.
Copying during training is the key to mastery and growth. When you copy, you reverse engineer the work of those who are cooler than you and learn something new yourself. But this is about technique, not about style. Style is vision, watching and the ability to listen to yourself, and this is the most difficult thing on the artist's path. I always say that finding yourself as a creator is a very spiritual job, you have to climb into your own head and try to get out of there what you really like to do, and not what Pinterest, mass culture and the creativity of others impose on you.
Whose creators' works were you inspired by when you were just learning?
There are a lot of them, and I can only remember them by nicknames in social media. Mostly European artists who are associated with digital fashion.
We noticed that you actively participate in various exhibitions and collaborations. An exhibition at Moscow digital fashion, organized by Dankov and your work for Nikita Replyansky's collection, a competition from jetlag — all this for pumping skills / developing your own brand?
Any activity works for your brand. Now I practically don't participate anywhere, I don't have much time and desire, I try to focus on my creativity, style formation.
Honestly, I've never looked for an opportunity to exhibit myself, I've always been invited. What can I say, networking is a strong thing.
Last August, you developed the concept of the Yeezy helmet, which quickly went viral and brought you a lot of subscribers, coverage and a clip for Kanye West and Sean Leon for the song BURN EVERYTHING.
After six months, share your emotions. Are you rewatching your work?
As for the helmet — now I would make it even better, of course. About the clip — I'm happy with what happened. There was only a month to develop, so we had to get out of it to reduce the time for production. However, the style of the clip itself made it possible to make it quickly, such a half-painted look is rendered very quickly.
Why did your helmet concept fire? Was this unexpected or new to you?
I think I just managed to take an idea that was on the surface, but no one saw it. I saw and made it. In general, Kanye and Yeezy have a lot of fans, also Kanye himself broadcasts the fashion for masks, so I just mixed two components that everyone is drawn to.
Are you planning new collaborations with artists of the Russian / Western scene in the near future?
Several projects are already underway, but I can't reveal my cards yet. I want to make it blow.
I see that you are actively experimenting with 2D and 3D effects and using different techniques. What should we expect in the future?
Now I'm going out into the phygital field, making prototypes of my physical fashion accessories and studying production methods. I don't know where this will lead me, but now I'm interested in it and that's why I'm doing it. I also really like the production of music videos, I would like to develop in this direction, mix techniques and express myself.
Have you thought about implementing AI in your projects or have you already tried using it?
Honestly, I don't need AI yet. Perhaps in the future I will use AI for references and concepts, but for now I know exactly what I want to do and how it should look.
How much time do you spend on creativity and commerce?
It's hard to say. Usually both creative and commercial projects smoothly replace each other even during the day.
Is it possible to live by creativity alone?
Only at a certain level, when you have built a strong enough personal brand and you are approached for collaborations as an artist with style, and not as a performer on a project.
What do you think, what age is too late to start creative work or is there no threshold?
There are no thresholds and frameworks in general. You like it? Than do it. That's all.