Text by Denise Kitt
When artist Max Ehrman is not completing privately commissioned works, he is zealously spray painting the walls of start-up companies in the SOMA district of San Francisco. Don’t recognize his name? Perhaps you know him as Eon75, a pseudonym Ehrman uses that stands for “Extermination of Normality” (and “75” denotes the year he was born).
Ehrman’s nickname is fitting in that his art often makes viewers feel light-years away from where they are. Most of his works feature a blend of vibrant colors, and his subjects are frequently other-worldly, or, as Ehrman describes them, “organic funk love.” One of his extra-planetary pieces is the “Serena the Siren” mural in the Tenderloin district of San Francisco, on which he collaborated with fellow artists from the United Kingdom, rocket01 and Fauna Graphic. Serena’s hair is made of woven, lime-green vines, and a Venus Flytrap is growing out of her back. The scene also hosts a flapping hummingbird, sugar-white dandelions, perfect shamrocks and the pumpkin-orange roots of a twisting tree trunk, all connected through what feels like one sweeping brushstroke. “I love the structure of nature and its finite precision,” explained Ehrman. “There is a harmony and balance to all the forms in the natural landscape. I find that if you can discover these connections in the natural world to mimic the ones in an art form, this is also a form of harmony.”
Ehrman began creating art at 21, going on to earn a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree in Architecture. “I never even drew anything until I was 21, so I’m a bit of a late bloomer,” Ehrman said. “Oh wait, I did draw a grasshopper when I was in first grade. It was stunning — my parents have it framed in our home in Florida.”
While completing his undergraduate studies, Ehrman discovered mural-painting and more specifically, the 34th Street Wall in Gainesville, Florida. Ehrman was greatly inspired by a mural painted by two international artists on part of this 1,120-foot space. Because artists who graffiti the wall have never been charged with crimes, and since the wall has even been accepted as a Gainesville landmark, Ehrman tried his hand. Mural-painting is now his favorite form of expression.
Although Ehrman prefers working on murals, he has been involved in a variety of industries over time. As a side job, he currently waits tables at Kuleto’s, a popular Italian restaurant in San Francisco. “I like working in restaurants because I am a super social person and actually generally like people,” said Ehrman. “Plus it gives me the freedom to pursue what I love, and that is painting.” Ehrman has also worked at Perry’s restaurant in San Francisco, which serves American cuisine and is one of his personal favorites. He has bartended at private parties and art shows and likes to concoct his own version of the Dark and Stormy: “I add a little mint to it with a 151 floater. Equals: dangerous.”
Another art form that Ehrman loves is tattoo design. “It’s really rewarding to see your art on a person’s skin. I hope that one day somebody gives me a shot at being an apprentice.” Ehrman himself has five tattoos, two of which are copies of two of his murals. He has also produced graphic and industrial designs. One of his favorite projects entailed taking a photograph of a woman and then wrapping her in his art, coloring her with his organic forms. He printed the images on metal. The forms work in harmony with the forms of the woman’s body. Also, Ehrman’s cousin is a famous industrial designer, so he often works with her on projects as well, having learned the trade in architecture school. He has constructed furniture and sculptures as well.
Ehrman lives in San Francisco, which he claims to be a great city. “Since I uprooted and left little ol’ South Florida almost five years ago,” he stated, “so many positive things have happened and I’ve met such great people. There are so many talented artists and people in this city that make every day an inspiration.”
Despite Ehrman’s affinity for San Francisco, he has worked around the world and has mentioned that he may move abroad in the future. “I loved Germany,” Ehrman said of the country in which he earned his Master’s. “I moved my happy little self to Berlin as quickly as possible and lived in that amazing city for two years. [It was] one of the best experiences of my life.” Ehrman painted every day, met people from all over the world and relished in Berlin’s “great art, music and everything in between.” Ehrman plans to stay in San Francisco for some time but is considering moving to Barcelona in a few years.
When asked how creating art makes him feel, Ehrman answered in a raw and resounding manner: “Art is my air. Without it, I would drown. It’s also my therapy and way to stay sane in this crazy city and world. If I couldn’t create, I don’t know what I would do … paint with my toes or something? I would say that any artist who loves what they do is obsessed with it. What’s the difference between obsession and passion? Who knows?”