In our Wednesday sessions now we're looking at Modernism/Postmodernism and we were simply given the task to pick an artist that we like and find out who their influences are... you can often see hints of other artists influence in people's work whether it’s a similar use of colour, composition or subject matter (I often link everyone to Picasso now) but this is the first time I think that I've actually seen such a clear progression and culmination of influences... it almost makes me think I'm doing something wrong as I can't see any of this in my own work.
I chose Jon Burgerman, a UK artist/illustrator/doodler, simply because I like his work and I had his book to hand... Using the humble coloured pen he begins drawing a line that grows along its journey on the page into a character or characters of intertwined shapes. As an overall shape starts to emerge which could be used as a body for a character, he then add shapes that could be arms, legs or ears to build on the new life he's creating. Never truly knowing what a doodle will end up looking like (or never over thinking it), his constant line gives each drawing a sense of movement and direction which leaves you imaging how these drawings could move if animated (which many have been recently, and there's a new iphone app coming out soon featuring his work).
So, delving into his book "Pens are my friends" I discovered a list of his influences, but what surprised me was how you could clearly see the relevance of each artist and just how it ties into Burgerman’s work. There’s his urban art/graffiti references from Mr.Jago, Adam Neate, Barry McGee, Phil Frost and Dave the Chimp, whose line work, composition, characters and humour have been incorporated in some way into Burgerman’s style but there’s also his more traditional artistic influences such as Jean-Michel Basquiat, David Carson, Cy Twombly and the illustrator Jim Avignon. If you put just one piece of artwork from all these artists into a blender, the result would be the continuous line drawn, abstract, colourful portraits of the characters that come alive on a page from Burgerman’s hand.
This has actually made me try narrow down my influences a little more… but I can’t tell the difference between who influences me anymore and those whose work I just like... Having so many different interests in many different areas which also range in technique means rather than my interests being 50% of one thing and 50% of another… I feel more like I’m 10% of this, 8% of this, 20% of something else and so on. Being interested in so many different techniques and styles does give me a myriad of ways in which I can draw/make something but I don’t feel any real connection to one as I haven’t spent enough time focused on a particular area and I am merely mimicking styles (or the “S” word as it shall be known from now on).
Dave the Chimp: