Featured Artist: Max Dowdle

Arts Everywhere recently had the pleasure of working with Max Dowdle, the selected artist for the Phillips Hall stairwell mural! We spoke to Dowdle to get to know the artist behind the mural and talked to him about his artistic journey, his inspirations, and dream projects.
Thank you, Max for speaking with us and for sharing your amazing art with the UNC community!


A headshot of artist Max Dowdle
Max Dowdle


Tell us a little bit about yourself and your artistic journey.

I come from a family of artists and craftspeople, so artistic pursuits were always very much a day-to-day pursuit when I was growing up. My family was always very supportive, which meant that I got a good early start on my artistic career. I’ve worked professionally for a little over twenty years now in one way or another. Mainly I’ve been involved in fine artwork with galleries, graphic novel publishing, and comic conventions for the past two decades, but my public art interests have grown to overtake those other forays in the past few years. I studied fine art production at a classical atelier in Florence, Italy, but I’ve also always been intensely interested in more graphic or iconic work, and I’ve found that the public art medium has allowed me to explore a variety of interests on a large scale. It’s very gratifying.

Calypso – Oil painting on canvas by Max Dowdle
Darker in the Sun, n.5: Matchmaker by Max Dowdle


Who or what are your inspirations?

Really so much. I take in a lot of media, from movies, shows, music, books, comics, gallery and museum visits, and natural places. I can find inspiration anywhere. I really never have a problem with artist block, it’s usually quite the opposite. Too many ideas, so little time!

Water’s Perfect Memory by Max Dowdle


How has your practice changed over time?

My overriding goal as an artist is utilitarianism. Anyone who looks at my portfolio can see that I have a very broad toolbox available. From finely-wrought portraiture to crisp, abstracted iconography, and anywhere in between. I relish the chance to learn a new skill or technique, and all of it funnels into my practice, so I effectively become more utile over time, able to tackle more varied and unpredictable jobs by relying on my flexibility.

A painting of a woman with blue skin. the background is black with red splotches
“The Firefly Garden” Oil on Wood 24″ x 16″


Tell us about a favorite project of yours (other than this one 😉)

Demanding jobs always end up being some of my favorites. A particular recent highlight was the creation of 8 large-scale paintings for the Local Government Federal Credit Union headquarters lobby in Raleigh. Working in tandem with the architecture firm and the organization, and bringing to life such a huge, challenging project over a ten-month time frame was enormously satisfying. The new work will be on display as of the new year in the lobby, and I can’t wait for everyone to see it!

What’s your dream project?

I’d like to paint a very large centerpiece exterior mural in a metropolitan space. Something that is just unmissable. Something many stories tall that acts as a real landmark, dominating the area it takes up. That would be a lot of fun.

Take the ‘A’ Train – Billy Strayhorn mural by Max Dowdle

One word to describe your art?


All photos are courtesy of Dowdle. Learn more and see more of Dowdle’s work at http://roarpaint.com/.