Anthony Burrill is one of the most widely respected creative forces operating today, and with a mantra like ‘WORK HARD AND BE NICE TO PEOPLE’, it’s easy to see why. While we can confirm Anthony holds true to the ‘be nice to people’ end of the bargain, it’s the ‘work hard’ element of this tagline that is most clearly illustrated when his creative output is reviewed; his portfolio is brimming with beautifully crafted things – art prints to books, T-shirts to record sleeves… He’s responsible for a collection of objects that can only have been crafted with a vehement focus on the aforementioned hard-work, mixed with more-than-a-dash of precise attention to detail.
We recently spoke to Anthony, tapping into his expertise as someone who has successfully forged a niche at the forefront of ‘physical’ in a world that’s trending digital.
SHOW YOUR PROCESS AND BE AUTHENTIC
It’s natural to feel hesitant about oversharing your own work to a community of fans you’ve worked hard to build, but Anthony suggests that there is a balance to be struck here,“ it’s just trying to engage with people but not overdoing it too much.” There are a million ways to showcase your output and practice, and Anthony underlines the importance of being creative when doing so, “it’s about showing how you came up with the design, showing WIP, showing different versions.” In doing so, he reiterates, you are able to link your output together in a coherent way, from ideation to creation; “all activities that you get up to as an artist, they should all link into each other. It should seem natural.”
EXPERIMENT, EXPERIMENT, EXPERIMENT
However, “coherent” shouldn’t be confused with uniform, or boring. On the contrary, Anthony explains that while you want to be consistent, that doesn’t mean you can’t go on different tangents and explore different aesthetics. More than ever it’s possible to experiment with putting your work on different mediums, and in the process of doing so, you’re able to get instant feedback. “It’s all about developing your ideas and testing them out to see how people respond to them” says Anthony, explaining that “everyone’s looking for new and interesting ways of working, and putting things on different media is a great way of doing that.”
FIND NEW MEDIUMS FOR YOUR MESSAGE
What exactly does ‘different’ mean in 2019? While recent years have proven a happy hunting ground for viral creative ideas in the social and digital realm, it’s the physical media that excites Anthony; “make stickers, make badges, make postcards, make stamps, send stuff out”. In doing so, experimentation and learning dovetail into an output that becomes “quite organic”.
Anthony explains that for anyone working with bold messaging, T-shirts are the perfect canvas. “Most of my work is very graphic, I specialise in posters with a focus on typography & short statements, it seemed natural to translate that visual language to T-shirts, they almost became visual posters – posters you could wear.” Across 2017 and 2018, Anthony’s typography and illustration work found a home as part of a number of T-shirt pre-order campaigns on Everpress, most notably as a key player in the Great Ormond Street Hospital charity T-shirt campaign.
WOULD YOU WEAR THAT?
When it comes to choosing which design to run on a T-shirt, or anything really, it’s about seriously pondering the question “would I feel comfortable wearing that? or owning that? Would I be happy to give this to a friend?” Anthony describes this as an important test that holds water across any medium, be it T-shirts, posters or stickers.
WITH OUTPUT COMES COLLABORATION
While we all want to believe there’s a secret sauce to success, often it’s the dedication to regular output and hard work that leads to reaching goals. Through experimentation and a genuine focus on developing and honing one’s practice, new relationships are formed, and with them, opportunities. You never know where your work is going to lead says Anthony, “make 25 T-shirts but that might turn into something else. Somebody else might spot it. That’s how things grow organically. You keep putting interesting work out there and it will reach new people, it’s amazing.” It’s this collaboration with GOSH that highlights what is possible. “They saw the potential for my designs on a T-shirt, it’s always interesting how one project can lead to another”.
For more insights on how your process can become one of your biggest strengths, read our interview with rising typography expert Josh Saunders.