The world of
The british artist created the cover of Mixed Tape #54.
Swap worries for interest.
“This is the Worry Bank,” Jon Burgerman explains early on a Saturday morning in his Brooklyn studio. He’s pointing to a doodle of a building that mimics a face full of neon pinks, yellows, blues, and oranges. “You can leave your worries inside, or borrow other people’s worries, but be careful, because your worries can accrue interest.”
He is most often associated with a bright yellow jacket by fans, but when hearing him speak, a helping of dry wit glazes over his thoughtful critiques of western culture.
We chat with the Mixed Tape #54 cover artist about harnessing his creative energy and how his environment affects his art.
Right in the middle.
Tell us about where you grew up, Jon.
I grew up in the middle of England, in Birmingham, with my parents and my two brothers. So I’m a middle-ender. There’s a big North/South divide in the UK, and people are very passionate about being from the South or North. And no one really cares about the middle. I grew up in the middle, and I was
the middle child, so I had a feeling I was in the absolute middle of the UK, far away from everything. I went to university at Nottingham to study fine art. I stayed there for about ten years and then one day I decided I should do something else, or be somewhere else, or maybe be someone else, so I absconded. I moved to New York.
A little Audio caffeine boost.
What’s so enticing about making characters of abstraction?
I guess any artist is responding to what they see or how they view the world. So this is how I see people and how I see my life and how I see, particularly, this part of western culture, western civilization. I’m trying to make sense of stuff, it’s my take on it which might be humorous, it might be silly, it might be making a comment, it might be just a mere form of discussion. That’s the language I use.
What kind of music are you listening to in your studio?
I like a lot of different things. I like a lot of electronic music, anything that sounds unusual. Non-traditional western music, I suppose. And I can’t not listen to electronic UK music, grime and post-dubstep stuff.
Is it important for your creative process to listen to music?
Definitely. I find it’s like a little audio caffeine boost to get me going.
What were you thinking about when you were creating the cover art for Mixed Tape #54?
It was winter-themed and so I thought of wintry animals. And it’s a mixed tape, so it’s music, so I listened to the mixed tape and having a lovely non-specific winter festival-y time. If I’m
engaged in music it allows me to be slightly distracted from what I’m doing, so I can get into that kind of dreamy flow-state of making stuff without over-thinking every line, shape, character, and color.
What are you working on next?
I think all good artists make their own worlds. If you look at a Tex Avery cartoon, a character can get run over by a truck and become all flat, and then someone comes along with a bicycle pump and they get re-inflated. And that makes sense. You don’t then think: “That would never happen”. Instead, you think: “It’s a cartoon”. I have all these characters and artwork, but they don’t really have a solid world in which they live in. So that’s what I’ve been working on, I’m creating my world - their own reality in which they can exist.
Thanks for chatting with us, Jon!
Read the entire interview with Jon Burgerman mb! by Mercedes-Benz.