Max Amato draws closer to future as artist

The Tyler School of Art student aspires to illustrate children’s books.

Max Amato holds two prints of his own design, themed after “Black Swan” and “Jekyll & Hyde.” | Kristen Vanleer TTN
Max Amato holds two prints of his own design, themed after “Black Swan” and “Jekyll & Hyde.” | Kristen Vanleer TTN

Max Amato took an interest in art at a young age, but he said it was when he used to walk down grocery store aisles, subconsciously analyzing the packaging of each food item, that he knew graphic design was the right path for him. 

The senior graphic design major said his knack for finding elements of design in all things, whether it’s posters or packages of hummus, is what fuels his passion for the trade.

“I knew that I really wasn’t the best with really detail-oriented, realistic drawing,” Amato said. “I started being more interested in commercial art for that reason, so I realized that was the way to go.”

Now, as Amato works on his senior thesis, the portfolio of professional and in-class design work he has compiled over the years includes jobs creating packaging for companies, from cigar manufacturer Havana to sound engineering company Paradise Soundworks.

As important as the diversity of this content is, Amato said using his own interests in his work is even more valuable to him. His interest in music was inspiration for the sound engineering project, but recently he found motivation from personal experiences.

Amato’s senior thesis, titled “Small Ball,” is a proposal for a magazine layout which highlights professional basketball players under 6 feet in height, something he said he can relate to personally.

“It’s a really great topic, because I think there are athletes everywhere, myself included because I played sports in high school, that were always just a little too small to actually make it,” Amato said. “So I think it could be a really inspirational thing for people, and I’m excited to see where it goes.”

It’s also important to him that each design he creates represents the uniqueness of the product, which he said explains the large amount of variation in his work.

“To me, design is not about having a style, it’s about letting the project dictate what that style is,” Amato said. “I try to be kind of like a chameleon.”

While the majority of Amato’s designs have not been put into fruition, there are a few he said he has dedicated more time to and would love to expand upon outside of the classroom. One of those projects is his work titled “99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall,” one of the three books he said he is attempting to have published.

“[‘99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall’] was in the most recent edition of “HOW International Design Annual,” which will be out in March 2014,” Amato said. “It has won a couple international awards in competitions for students – it just seems to be really marketable, so I would hope to have that one published. I could see it in Urban Outfitters as a coffee table kind of book.”

In addition, Amato said he has drawn inspiration from his mother, a published children’s book author. He is working on publishing a children’s book of his own, “Perfect,” which he wrote and designed.

“[My mom] knows a couple of agents and people in the industry, so she’s given me contact information for that,” Amato said. “Right now I’m working on a presentation so I can send it to them and they can understand what it’s about and why it’s something that should be on the shelves at Barnes & Noble.”

The story, which centers around using mistakes as learning experiences, is a lesson Amato said he wishes he could have learned sooner, but wants to pass on to other young kids.

“This is a book I kind of wrote for myself as a little kid,” Amato said. “I have always been a perfectionist – I think that’s part of why I became a graphic designer. So this book is really just about finding inspiration in your mistakes.”

Like many of his other projects, Amato said he hopes he will eventually be able to bring this book to life.

“I’m really hoping for the best,” Amato said. “I think it’s a pretty heartwarming story that people could get behind, so it would be really exciting.”

Alexa Bricker can be reached at 

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