Friday, 3:50pm
8 January 2010

Tools: old friends, new friends

the tools department
Visual culture

Jon Burgerman’s working methods, from felt-tips to tablets

For the first of our new, regular ‘Tools’ posts, Eye talked to illustrator Jon Burgerman about his working methods.

Eye: What do you draw with – did you progress from pencils and paint to felt-tips?
Jon Burgerman: I've always used whatever is cheaply available, really. At school it’s made out that paints are on a higher tier than pens but it’s not really like that. It’s also about whatever is best / easiest / quickest for the job.

Top: Quickshot slow Joystick.
Below: Michaels


Eye: Was there a ‘Eureka moment’ when you found the perfect pen, or are you comfortable with lots of different ones?
JB: When I first used a Posca pen in the 1990s I knew I’d be using them a lot more in the future. I love Posca pens. Over the years, for my sketchbook drawings, I’ve always used a combo of pens, one thicker than the other. At the moment I’m working through a box of Pentel felt pens and Muji gel pens. When they run out maybe I’ll move on to using something different. The pens I use do end up affecting the work I produce.

Below: hand-painted mural at Music Sales office in London.

MusicSales Mural

Eye: When did you start to use the computer (and scanner) and what software do you like to use?
JB: I started back in 1997. My friend showed me a program called Photoshop and I was amazed! Nowadays I probably use Illustrator more than Photoshop – the two programs share a lot of abilities it seems. That said, where possible, I use the computer sparingly.

Below: Burgerfont, from Hype for Type

Basic CMYK

Eye: I hear that you are also drawing using tablets.
JB: You’re right, I've just started working with a Wacom Cintiq and seeing what I can do with it. It’s a great tool but I’ve not really learnt all it can do yet. It won’t ever replace drawing with pens on paper for me, but it will offer new ways of doing things. I don’t see it as something to replace my analogue process but as hopefully a tool that can enrich and compliment it.

Below: Wacom portrait of Florian, from the burger x RE:Store event in Munich, 2009.


Eye: Is it changing your work at all, or making it easier to do what you used to do?
JB: It makes some tasks on the computer a lot easier and quicker. If I need to do quick sketches it's very good for that too. Also, of course, you can play around with animating and recording your strokes with it, so it offers completely different qualities.

Below: Mural from ‘Economies of Scale’ exhibition, Beijing, November 2009.


Eye: Anything else that comes into the equation? (Have you tried Brushes for the iPhone, for example?)
JB: I’ve tried all sorts of different drawing media. The Cintiq struck a chord because you can see what you’re drawing as you draw it. Before then, I never had any interest in graphic tablets. They all felt like I was drawing while wearing mittens. iPhone apps and the like are fun when you’re on the run but then I always carry a sketchbook with me anyway.


Below: Jim Avignon and Jon Burgerman, aka Anxieteam, perform at Monkeytown in Brooklyn, NYC, Sunday 3 January 2010.

Bio: British artist Jon Burgerman makes work in a variety of media including drawing, painting, print, animation, large-scale murals and toy design, with clients ranging from Sony to Pepsi, Sky and Kidrobot. Burgerman exhibits internationally and has work in the permanent collections of The Victoria and Albert Museum and The Science Museum in London. He ran a ‘doodling’ workshop at the Pictoplasma Character Design Conference and in 2008 he was invited to appear as a guest on the BBC children’s TV programme Blue Peter, where he made a piece of work live on air to celebrate the show’s 50th birthday. His book Pens are my friends (IdN) was published in September 2008.

17 Jan: Anxieteam performance and video screening at Heathers, NYC.
26 Jan: Anxieteam performance at Cake-shop, Manhattan, NYC.
28-29 Jan: Live digital drawing at Re:Store, Oslo, Norway.
31 Jan: Talk and doodles at Noise Lab from 1-4pm, Manchester, UK.

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