Known in the design world for his persuasive use of language and bold typography, Anthony Burrill is a graphic artist, print-maker and designer living idyllically in the Isle of Oxney, Kent with his wife and two children. A longtime Schoolhouse partner, we've always admired his upbeat attitude and ability to distill wide-reaching concepts and issues down to their most powerful, positive messages for good.
His work is held in the permanent collections at the Victoria and Albert museums in London and has been featured in galleries all across the world. We chatted with him about his work, family and the inspiration behind his latest Schoolhouse collaboration "Want Better, Not More!".
Describe your life in a 6 word memoir...
"I like it. Do you? (I cheated, I only used five words.)"
What does a typical day look like for you from start to finish?
"It depends what I’m working on or where I am. Most days I’m in the studio, working on a mixture of commercial and self-initiated projects. My studio is built next to my house, which is in a small rural village in Kent, it’s very quiet and beautiful. There’s always lots to do in the studio, I enjoy the variety of projects I work on, it’s different every day. I try and use my time effectively so that I’m not working in the studio all the time. I stop work around six and spend the rest of the day with my wife and children."
What about your perfect day?
"Spending time with my family somewhere beautiful."
Who or what inspires you in your work and also your daily life?
"I find inspiration in the most unlikely places. I try to keep my eyes and ears open all the time, to observe and remember as many things as I can. It’s hard to conjure up something from nothing, everything needs a starting point. I don’t have any rules about looking for inspiration, I like to be surprised by things. Most of my work comes out of observation, looking at the world and seeing new things."
Language is omni-present in your art – your “Work Hard & Be Nice To People” print has become a sort of work mantra in the design community and beyond. Do you have a personal motto or ethos that describes how you work and approach to your art?
"I’ll go with ‘Work Hard & Be Nice To People’ - it’s how I’ve always tried to do things."
What accomplishment are you most proud of?
"My lovely children."
When did you feel as if you had truly ‘made it’ in a sense?
"Creative people are never truly satisfied with their work, it’s what drives us to make more work, hoping to reach a point where everything is finally resolved. The problem is that once you’ve reached that point, there is already a new challenge waiting for you. I like that process, I think I’d be bored if I ever felt like I’d ‘made it’."
Can you talk a little about your latest collaboration with Schoolhouse and the “Want Better, Not More” print? Do you feel like there has been a cultural shift over the past few years in regards to consumerism?
"It’s much better to buy something of good quality that’s going to last and improve with use than buy a cheaper version that breaks quickly. Our most valued possessions are the things that we’ve had for many years, things that have become part of our lives. Our possessions say a lot about how we think about ourselves, wanting new stuff all the time isn’t a good way of going about things, it’s wasteful and expensive. Most people don’t have bottomless pockets, when we buy something we want it to be both functional and beautiful. Truly modern design is about quality and durability, not fashion."
This Fall, we were inspired by the concept #chasingthelight – for us, it meant seeking out experiences, places, people and objects which bring us joy and fulfillment, and really taking the time to appreciate those moments. What does #chasingthelight look like to you?
"I’m an enthusiast, I like finding out about new things, I like going off at strange tangents, exploring new avenues. That’s what life is about, challenging yourself and growing with each experience. Everything adds up to who you are and your place in the world. By looking beneath the surface and being inquisitive you can find out all sorts of things, it’s amazing what you can discover about yourself and other people."
Can you tell us about any future projects you’re currently working on? What’s on the horizon for 2016?
"The great thing is that I never know what’s going to happen next. New opportunities and collaborations appear from the most unexpected places, I really like that. Hopefully I’ll do more travelling next year, I love seeing new places and meeting new people. I’d like to work on another book project. I had my first book published in 2014, I really enjoyed the process. So hopefully I’ll be working on a new one next year."
See the video below for a peek at the traditional printing process that goes in to each of Burrill's print compositions. An integral component to the integrity of his work, he has a long standing relationship with the printers Adams of Rye in East Sussex.
Thank you Anthony! Shop his prints here.