Burrill works across a range of media, including posters, moving image and three-dimensional work. His persuasive, up-beat illustration and design has been commissioned by cultural, social and commercial clients around the world from New York, to London to Tokyo.
He combines an instinctive handling of colour and composition with a witty approach to words. He has worked on advertising campaigns and posters for clients such as The Economist, the British Library and London Underground. He regularly collaborates with musicians and animators to make films, music promos and animations, using his distinctive visual vocabulary and passion for fusing sound and image. His installations and 3-D work have been commissioned by Colette in Paris and The Design Museum in London among others. Printmaking is an important part of Burrill’s practice and he creates limited edition prints with slogans that have become mantras for the design community and beyond. One of theses slogans inspired the title for his talk, which will take place at TYPO London 2012 on October 19, 2012, 12:00 pm in Logan Hall: »Working Hard and Being Nice to People« .
1. Which work are you particularly proud of? Which work best represents your style or approach?
In 2010 I collaborated with Happiness Brussels to print a poster using oil spilled in the Gulf of Mexico. The poster reads ‘OIL & WATER DO NOT MIX’ – a simple statement. When you consider the way the poster was produced, it gives a deeper meaning and resonance. The poster became popular, people responded to the idea positively, the way it was produced and what it said. It’s the simplest ideas that have most effect. The idea and execution were strongly linked with each other. The poster makes a comment in a clever and engaging way, this is something that I try to do with all my work.
2. The theme of this year’s TYPO London is »Social«. Do you consider design to be a social discipline? Which design project do you consider to be particularly socially relevant?
Design is an incredibly social discipline, it is about communication between human beings. My work wouldn’t exist without the network of friends and collaborators I am part of. I think the ‘WORK HARD & BE NICE TO PEOPLE’ poster is a social project. It has gained widespread recognition and popularity, escaping the ‘design’ world and becoming known not because it is a piece of graphic design, but as a piece of communication. The message resonates with a wide range of people, it is a positive message, simply communicated.
3. A conference like TYPO London is in itself an obvious example for a social event: what are you especially looking forward to?
I’m looking forward to hearing my contemporaries speaking about their work and experiences. Everybody has a fascinating story and their own approach and it’s always fascinating to see how people have developed their work and the way in which it engages with a broader society.
4. Required reading/watching: What are currently your favorite interesting/beautiful publications, exhibitions, books, movies and/or websites?
My favourite thing to do is walking in the countryside where I live, my family and I have recently moved to a new house and I’m gain inspiration from the surrounding countryside. As for exhibitions, I recently saw new work by Antony Gormley at White Cube in London. The new pieces are sculptures of simple human forms constructed out of numerous small metal boxes, almost like one of his regular pieces bitmapped at 72 dpi. The atmosphere in the gallery was calm, meditative and very inspiring. I’m currently reading ‘Publikation’, a biography of the band Kraftwerk by David Buckley, the book is exhaustive in its research, I’m a big fan of Kraftwerk, so it’s a real treat!