Anthony Burrill


‘Anthony Burrill is an internationally renowned graphic artist, print-maker and designer. His persuasive, up-beat style of communication makes him sought after by big brands, advertising agencies and design schools the world over. He is best known for his typographic, text-based compositions, including the now-famous ‘Work Hard & Be Nice to People'(A.Burrill,2017). This has become the mantra for many in their everyday life. He now lives and works on the Isle of Oxney.

Burrill is collector of all things interesting, collecting all kinds of scraps, tickets, old packaging an newspaper clippings. Collecting everything and anything that may spark some inspiration. Lots of the materials he has created over the years are around 20 years old now and therefore are often created by more traditional means than digital, this leads to his collection being containing pieces that are all very unique, individual and characterful making the collection very influential towards his work.

Burrill grew up in the 1980s, where he was obsessed with everything to do with music, he grew up in a a time where ‘visual image in pop had become as important as the music'(A.Burrill,2017). He would spend hours studying the record sleeves and listening to the music.

His first job was working for his father’s friend at a printing studio where their main product they made was beer mats, this really began to fascinate him and introduced him into letterpress, he also took the production method of using only 2-3 colours which are both points very visible in his work even now. This job placement also allowed him to discover and study the process of design and development for printing, from drawing board, to making the plates and printing the design.


Because of his shy nature and the lack of connections at the time resulting in Burrill struggling to find work after gaining his MA he began to make leaflets to hand out to employers as a way of contacting possible work placements without having to completely throw himself out into doing something he hated, this really kickstarted his keen interest in printmaking techniques, began exploring print techniques that would make his leaflets stand out. His weakness using this process became his strength and enabled him to make his mark and stand out from crowd even leading to him creating something that defines him even today. The quirky qualities of his leaflets, even though they didn’t contain much relevant information, began to grab the attention of employers and clients leading to his first commission.

‘The first person to commission me produce work as a result of making the photocopy books was Erik Kessels. At the time, my studio set-up was very simple – I had a shoebox containing art materials and a few book of type and pictograms as reference, and I used the photocopier in the local cornershop. Together, Erik and I created the campaign that would really kick things off for me.'(A.Burrill,2017)

Burrill had always had a keen interest in typography, however it was only after he began trying to implement it into his work that he really began to understand the terminology and how to use them. His only method of adding the type to his work drastically changed the look of his work, he had to photocopy the type from magazines and the like, upscaling the work and then to print it off finally cutting out the letters and placing them on the sheet by hand, the upscaling gave the text some erratum making the text look more handcrafted adding an interesting characteristic to his work. Burrill has taken a lot of inspiration with his typography from the Letraset catalogue he got from a Letraset salesman that came into his school to give a presentation.

‘Typography is very hard to get right – I’m still learning how to do it. Good typography is hard to teach, it’s something you have to work on consistently.'(A.Burrill,2017)

Burrill often works with limitations because of his equipment and process, this forces him to think of creative solutions to overcome these limitations, this is also my preferred method, the more limits the better (to a certain extent). I hate open ended projects where you have free reign to do what you want, I find this leads to an outcome that is just art, it isn’t creative, it isn’t interesting just a piece of art with no purpose and no problem, this kind of art bores me.

Burrills use of colour is similar to how he manages the typography, keeping it limited, working within the limits, using them both sparingly but effectively, which goes back to his experience of making beer mats in his first job, 2-3 colours and minimal type, usually using just one font or typeface.

‘Design is everywhere and in everything. keep your eyes and mind open. Investigate and respond to what you’re drawn to.'(A.Burrilll,2017)

‘Conformity is the opposite of creativity.'(A.Burrill,2017)

‘Jump in and keep the momentum going'(A.Burrill,2017)


‘It’s the imperfections that give the finished work it’s character and individuality.'(A.Burrill,2017)

Burrill’s work now is often made around mantras the most recognisable one being ‘Work Hard & Be Nice to People’, these mantras are always designed to be clever and contain a little humour making them memorable and effective. Whilst sticking to this his phrases or mantras are often very relevant to the majority of people and can be influential for a large variety of disciplines, not just the intended audience.

‘Use your fear'(A.Burrill,2017)

Anthony Burrill is a good designer to link in towards my project as I feel his methods and opinions fit well in with the direction I want to take my project. His opinions at some points even match up to my own with the preference of being restricted in a project, I feel this forces you to come up with innovative ideas that allow you to unlock your full potential in design, working without limits isn’t really design, in my opinion. This similarity may make it easier to understand and incorporate his methods into this project. Burrill will also match up well with the other artists I am researching, merging their ideas into my own will, if all goes to plan, make something appealing to designers and the target audience. I will also look into incorporating small amounts of humour like used in Burrill’s own work to make it just that bit more interesting and quirky.


Block type experimenting – 

Because the block type I had at hand were not of the same size and font I have made a sheet experimenting with a more messy gibbous pattern like designs. These could potentially be used for the inside of the cover pages of the book or as a base line to work from for separators between the topics in the book.







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