Illustration

10 QUESTIONS: Artist Jon Burgerman

Recently, we interviewed bold, wonky and colourful artist Jon Burgerman. Based in New York, Jon's unique, distinctive style can be found globally from gallery and bedroom walls to cinema and iPhone screens.

Jon Burgerman infront of garage

Jon's career as an artist has seen him collaborate with brands that include Pepsi, CocaCola, Nike, Sony, Sky, Kidrobot, Puma, Nintendo and MTV to name a few. His work has also received a Cannes Lions Advertising award and two D&AD Silver award nominations. 

So, wanting to know the secret of his success, we asked him about his life as an artist so far...

QUESTION: Hi Jon. Is art and design something that comes naturally to you, and at what age did you start out?

"I got my first commission from a multi-national when I was 4 and a half. It was for a series of artist customised potties to be sold worldwide and which would have a touring exhibition. It was a good first job to have and taught me some important life lessons. And as a plus, I got a free potty."

QUESTION: What was it like working on such iconic gaming titles as Wipeout and LittleBigPlanet?

"It was super, especially WipEout, as I got to travel to see the team working on the game and talk through my ideas with them. LBP was fun as well but I only contributed a sticker pack to the game so wasn’t as involved. WipEout was something I’d of happily of paid to do, so was doubly amazing that they were paying me!"

QUESTION: What attracted you to doodling a preferred technique?

"It's just the natural way in which I work. It's probably the only way I can work too. It's enjoyable and comes with a relative ease as well, which is probably why I've stuck with it."

Drawing is a form of prayer by Jon Burgerman
Jon Burgerman created this illustration during a live drawing event at the British library in London

QUESTION: How has your style developed over the years?

"I’m not sure but it has changed as I’ve changed. I think the lines are more confident and I’m able to do more with less now. My use and understanding of colours has improved a little as well I think (looking back on older works). I also try to put more of myself into the work now, more of my humour and words and thoughts and beliefs."

QUESTION: What’s the most useful thing anyone has ever said to you?

"My tutor on Art Foundation, the masterful Ted Allen, told me when I was 18 (I think) that it was a fools game to chase popular styles and try to reproduce them in your work.

You have stay focussed on what you believe in and what works for you.

Fashion might come around to your way of working someday and it might not, but if you are always chasing a ‘style’ then you will always be behind the pack. That kind of stuck with me.

"When I graduated from university in 2001, with a degree in Fine Art, I wrote to every illustration agency I could find in the UK (I needed work to start to pay off all the debt I was in). They all rejected me, but rather than adapting my work to fit to what was the current crop of illustration it made me more engaged in doing my own thing."

Jon Burgerman's Toss image
Artwork that featured at Jon Burgerman's recent 'I want to eat myself' pizza party art show at Carmine's pizza factory in New Jersey

QUESTION: Where do you look for inspiration?

"The internet of course! Actually, anywhere but the internet!"

QUESTION: What's the coolest brief you've ever had and why?

“WipEout was pretty cool. I’ve had some amazing briefs for jobs I failed to get so am probably not allowed to mention them. Once I had to design a robot out of pot noodles. I failed with that job but it was fun to do. I’m working on a couple of things right now actually that are cool, and when I end up being unsuccessful with them I will let you know what they were!"

QUESTION: What do you want to achieve in the next 12 months?

"I want to be a bit taller, a little leaner, less meaner, more positive and confident. I also want to make another book. Making books is great. I want to make books, so if you’re a publisher drop me a line!"

Jon Burgermans My American Summer book
Jon Burgerman's self published comic book diary My American Summer

QUESTION: What advice would you give to new designers/illustrators starting out?

"Work work work. Work work work. Read read read. Think think think. (Do things in threes!)"

QUESTION: And finally. If you had the chance to speak to one person, who would it be, what would you ask, and why?

"I’d ask Sagmeister why he decided to pose ‘tackle-out’ recently for the launch of his new studio."


Thanks Jon!

Check out the Jon Burgerman website for more of his work.

Make sure you stay tuned to see who we’ll be interviewing next week.

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