As we prepare for the inaugural AIGA Eye on Design Conference, we meet some of our esteemed speakers to find out more about them, their work, and what you can expect from them on the big day.
So much more than a man who draws faces on things (or makes sidesplittingly hilarious collages of himself with celebrities), Jon Burgerman is a self-described “purveyor of doodles.” The UK-born, NYC-based artist instigates improvisation and play through drawing and spectacle, and his work straddles the various lines between fine art, urban art, illustration, and pop culture. Burgerman has turned his hands to multiple media including canvases, large-scale murals, sculpture, toys, apparel, design, print, and people.
The work you share online of adding faces—personalities, really —to everyday objects and situations is so fun and inventive. How did it develop?
It’s not an original idea, but that’s not what’s important or fun about it. Humans have been seeing faces in things or making things into characters for a long time. I’ve been drawing faces on things for as long as I can remember, from using my finger to make faces on dirty windows to drawing on magazines and photographs. All I’m doing now is making faces and characters digitally using the simple tools in Instagram. The fun thing about it is that anyone can do it, and that we sometimes see things in a different way.
I like doing it because it’s so quick. In the past I would just play this game in my head, now because my phone has been grafted onto my paw, I can show whoever is following me my goofy observations, and quite often they start to play along too.
Does creating work in this very public way make for any unexpected or surprising encounters with people around you who you might not normally come into contact with? Any fun stories you care to share?
I get a lot of funny looks from people when I’m taking the photos or videos in public, especially the videos as I add my own vocal sound effects. Just this weekend I was enjoying some ice cream with my wife’s friends in Seattle. A little distracted (and not involved in the main conversation) I had the idea for a short video: A little bear, drawn on a napkin, with fingers poked through the tissue for legs comes across a pool of melted shaved ice. Whilst filming it I made the sounds of the bear walking and what he was thinking in a silly story time voice. One of the friends sat at the end of the table observed me doing this and shot me a very embarrassed look but didn’t say anything. No-one else saw me do it. I think she thought I might have some weird tick or difficulties. Wait, perhaps I do.
Are there any specific implications from your work that you’d like audiences to take away after viewing?
We can see the world differently to how it’s presented. I hope my work in its finished form reveals its process, so that anyone can take what I’ve made and be inspired to create their own visions.