Kolomatsky does not remove the original from the signpost. Instead, he takes a photo, creates a redesign, and when he returns with his piece, he tapes it next to the original flyer.
Max Kolomatsky, a digital artist and filmmaker, has taken it upon himself to redesign fliers and posters he sees out in the streets. One day, while walking the streets of Brooklyn, Kolomatsky spotted a flier taped to a pole and decided the sign could use some flair. It was a poster about finding people to play the game Catan. The best part is, Kolomatsky does not diss the original sign or remove it from the signpost. Instead, he takes a photo of it, creates a redesign, and when he returns with his piece, he tapes it next to the original flyer. “When I see something poorly designed, it’s in me to imagine how I would do it differently,” Kolomatsky, 24, told The Washington Post. “That got me excited.”
Maria Barambio, who created the flier, was surprised to see Kolomatsky’s version. “I have limited knowledge of Photoshop,” said Barambio. “What he did was super heartwarming. It was very cool.” His redesigns reignited his creative spark, and Kolomatsky noticed signs all over New York that could use an artist’s touch. “There are a lot of interesting fliers out there,” he said, noting that many were not achieving their full potential. He was hunting for other signs, specifically ones for local businesses. He wanted to support those who would appreciate his work the most. “I’m focused on people that could use the assistance,” said Kolomatsky. “Good design really can benefit a small business.”
His next project was for a small appliance shop in Brooklyn called Jose’s Refrigerator & Stove. Kolomatsky noticed the dull and tattered sign and revamped it to something more fun. He maintained the original simple black-and-white look but added bolder text and a cleaner layout with illustrations of a refrigerator, a stove, and tools. Like all his pieces, Kolomatsky taped it outside the window, above the original. “I like to think that from their perspective, it sort of appeared out of thin air,” he said. Jose Muhammad, the owner of the store for 38 years, was stunned to see the sign and said, “I had made one myself, and he made the design better,” adding that he was grateful. Muhammad moved the poster behind the glass and also made some photocopies.
Kolomatsky was thrilled to see his sign put to good use. “It was very cool to see that they’re using it,” said Kolomatsky on TikTok, explaining that each redesign takes him a day or two, though it depends on the piece's complexity. “Some days, I’m just not feeling as creatively sharp, and I can struggle with an idea for a while.” He shared his creative process for the posters on TikTok, and his videos have millions of views. The reaction has been “overwhelmingly positive,” he said. “I’m a big believer in encouraging artists,” Kolomatsky said, explaining that he hopes to inspire other illustrators. “I’m anti-gatekeeping. I think there’s a lot of room in the world of art for people to have careers like mine, and I’d rather share the knowledge than close the door.”
His videos caught the attention of the software company Adobe, and a representative contacted Kolomatsky and asked if he would be interested in partnering with Adobe to produce illustration videos for social media. Stacy Martinet, vice president of Marketing at Adobe, said her team was struck by Kolomatsky’s “creative way of helping the world through design.” She added, “That spoke to us. We wanted to work with him and support him in doing more of this work and amplifying it to more people.” Kolomatsky is a freelancer, and regardless of the partnership, he intends to keep doing the free sign redesigns. “There is an obvious net positive effect on the world when you’re going out and improving the design,” he said. “Design is really powerful.”