graphic artist, print-maker and designer anthony burrill is known for his persuasive, up-beat style of communication. his work is held in the permanent collections of the victoria and albert museum in london, the cooper-hewitt national design museum in new York, and has been exhibited in galleries around the world.
DB: what originally made you want to study design and become a designer?
AB: my youthful obsession with music. I was interested in everything to do with music as a teenager, the sleeves, logos, videos. I grew up in the eighties, a decade where image was becoming increasingly important as a marketing tool. my favorite bands were all visually strong: the human league, kraftwerk, japan, adam and the ants. I would spend hours in my bedroom studying the record sleeves and listening to music.
I like it. what is it? 30 posters by anthony burrill
don’t say nothing
DB: how would you describe your style to someone unfamiliar with your work?
AB: simple, direct, honest and engaging. I work with minimal means to produce work that engages and amuses.
DB: how do you ensure you keep an element of personality or character in your work?
AB: I work with a simple palette of colors, typefaces and materials and use whatever tells the story most effectively. I like to strip down the visual information as much as possible. my aim is to produce work that while being visually simple, has deeper resonance and meaning.
DB: who or what has been the biggest influence on your typographic and color preferences?
AB: I’ve always been fascinated by vernacular typography, hand-painted signs, scrawled messages – work that is simple and direct, but with a definite personality. I like to keep material choices simple, and that includes color. I specify pure color to print with, bright red, clear yellow and strong green, color straight out of the tin! I collaborate closely with printers to produce beautiful tactile prints, something that is impossible to achieve using mainstream techniques.
DB: what production techniques and materials have you enjoyed working with the most?
AB: I’ve worked with wood type over the past ten years, I’m interested in it for the quality of print and the feeling of restriction. I like to work within boundaries, I think it helps produce ingenious work. a lot of my early projects had small budgets, so I had to be clever with print in order to make interesting work. I’ve recently made a piece using wood veneer, it’s definitely a technique I want to explore further.
DB: what are your thoughts on originality in design?
AB: it’s vitally important to be original, to look outside the world of design for inspiration, not just re-work existing designs.
DB: how do you try to ensure you keep your work interesting for yourself and relevant to others?
AB: by leading an interesting life outside the studio, I travel a lot and I’m constantly looking for new and interesting things to find out about. I think being inquisitive is the key to creativity.
DB: are there any themes you avoid when choosing the statements you make in your work?
AB: like to retain a certain ambiguity, not refer to things that are topical, my aim is to make work that lasts and speaks about broader themes.
DB: how are your current fascinations feeding into your work?
AB: as I mentioned, I’m interested in working with wood veneer, it something I haven’t tried before. I think it’s an underused medium, definitely something to explore.
DB: what’s the last thing that made you say ‘wow’?
AB: standing beside bassenthwaite lake looking towards keswick in the lake district, the landscape is beautiful, I was in awe!