Stefan Marx by Nils Mueller
A Sunday Interview With Artist Stefan Marx
From the stage of Mac DeMarco to artwork of Stab High.
Stefan Marx is a Berlin-based artist best known for his quirky, youthful illustrations. Over the years he has showcased his artwork on a variety of worldwide platforms from live doodling on Mac DeMarco tours, creating his own clothing line, Lousy Livin’ Company, and releasing books. We're fans, so when Stab High 2019 came around, we reached out to see if he'd like to do some art for us. In between book releases, painting murals and designing skatewear, we caught up with Stefan to ask a few questions about his work, his creative process, and his relationship with surfing.
Stab: Tell us about yourself.
Hi! My name is Stefan Marx, I live in Berlin and I draw.
The face of Stab High was your whimsical dog character that previously starred in your 2014 book of illustrations Sundaayyyssss. What’s his name? Is there a story behind him?
The Sundaayyy Dog has no specific name, nor gender. I came up with the dog for a Sunday Column for my Instagram feed - I don’t like Sundays very much so I drew the dog to sum up my feelings about Sundays. This is a rather personal, autobiographical situation, which I think many people can relate to.
The Ladybirds Varsity Jackets by Stefan Marx.
More than doodles.
I hear you dislike using pencils and work strictly in pen?
Mostly, yes. Sometimes when I'm impatient and it has to be done to a specific dimension, I’ll use pencil. But usually, the drawings are more interesting in pen.
You grew up in Schwalmstadt, Germany about 260 miles from the nearest beach, and currently live in Berlin. I assume surfing’s not a big part of your life. How do you feel like this impacted your creative process for Stab High?
These days I only really watch surfing on Instagram. I’ve traveled to Australia and the South Pacific. I did a lot of work from the great memories of my first longboard ride at Byron Bay Beach, with my friends from the Art Park. That day I ended up with a bleeding chin, beginner mistake, I still have the scar [laughs].
When you sent the surfing dog illustration we were immediately drawn to it. What was your process for selecting the Stab High vibe and characters?
I worked everything out with Shinya, the creative director of Stab. I think the communication we had, the fun facetime chats, and his overall concept of the event helped to translate it into drawings. It was so much fun. Shin and I choose the color palette from the copy paper I use for my artist books and zines. I loved that.
Each competitor at the event had their own cartoon character, did you create each character based on the actual surfers or just draw them when you saw their names?
I looked up each surfer and checked their look and style!
"I looked up each surfer and checked their look and style!"
These Marx x Stab x Drag collab never made it back to Stab HQ, and we can't blame whoever took them!
Your Mac DeMarco work we really dig. I see a lot of album cover work in your portfolio. What parallels are there with your work and music?
Thank you, l love for working with Mac. Total fan of his too. Yes, doing artwork for musicians is so rewarding and makes me very happy. I have many musician friends and always love their creativity and sensibility, and the transformation of their feelings into wonderful music. Music is so powerful. I like to think my drawings for record covers support the music, it is such a big inspiration for me.
The Stab High beer koozie and Sk8 High Custom combo look better in hand and on foot than floating above a Texan pool.
Big chair, small ego.
You’re heavily involved in skate culture, what do you think of surfing?
I’ve always viewed surfing with a huge smile. As I said earlier, I haven’t had many chances to try surfing and I’m not a very talented surfer either. I don’t connect Surfing and Skateboarding too much, but of course, I know the history. Personally, I think all surfers can be very grateful to feel the power and energy of pure nature so directly, and use it for their thing. Waking up early, catching the first waves in the morning, traveling to the craziest places and being in the water with friends or by yourself, I think it is a special thing. I love to watch people surf, once I had an art residency at Rockaway Beach in New York, I drew a series of surfers while I was there.
Your artwork was showcased in every corner of Stab High and gave the event a playful, quirky edge. Were you happy with the outcome?
If we were to write a brief for Stab High, we’d probably have said something like: “whatever you like, just no surfing dogs!” But we loved it. So much that we even had an extra large sign made that we put up at the end of the pool that said, "It's Surf Dog."
Haha thank you, I think it came out super good and I’m very happy to contribute and reach so many people with my work, thank you Stab High!