Jon Burgerman: Encourage the ferret

The artist and illustrator Jon Burgerman enjoys “happy accidents”: Things that occur with no pre-warning, and demand you to come up with quick and delightful solutions. In his talk, he guides us through his light-hearted, funny world of doodled characters and everyday-observations.

Weirdness is a requirement

Jon Burgerman (left) talking to his host Erik Spiekermann © Gerhard Kassner (Monotype)

“A cluttered room leads to a cluttered mind”, Jon’s mother used to say. And quite frankly, listening to the artist and illustrator Jon Burgerman leaves no doubt that he is fueled by a chaotic mind, empowered by crazy ideas, and has the ability to make wonderfully weird drawings out of it. “I am very confused and distracted sometimes”, he says about himself, and with this honesty, he wins the audiences hearts entirely.

Grown up in Nottingham, now working and doodling in New York City (right next to Tina Roth-Eisenbergs new co-working space!), Jon creates characters and worlds through an eclectic style of bold outlines and colours. He doesn’t start his work with a solid concept, but rather begins just somewhere and is curious where his doodling will take him.

It’s great to create

With this workflow, Jon makes artworks out of anything: Little scribbles during phone calls, huge wall murals filled with his characters, costumes, street art and installations. In his recent exhibition “Burgerworld”, he solely filled a room with props to let people create and share little stories through his art. Jon says that he wants his artwork to be “out there”; it shouldn’t collect dust. People are free to adopt it and do whatever they want with it. Participation will activate people to create crazy stuff.

Jon is, in a way, a fan of imperfection. His work reflects his love for coincidences; for accidents. “If you can’t be good, be different.” So, what’s behind the story with the ferret? It basically is a symbol for happy accidents — things that appear out of nowhere and ask you to react quickly and spontaneously.

The story with the ferret

This is his guidance to live through it:
First: Improvise. There won’t be any time to make big plans. Second: Make use of what you have at this very moment. Third: Ignore failure – perfection is not always the point of doing things. And finally, fourth: Create a new game out of this accident. Make it yours, and invite people to play with you. Happy accidents are the key to innovation. Happy accidents are ferrets.

But how the story goes exactly? Maybe Jon will tell you in his next conference talk. If you get the chance to see him, you should not miss out!

Jon Burgerman

Jon Burgerman

Illustrator (New York)

Jon Burgerman (b. 1979, UK) is an award winning purveyor of doodles. His work exists in a space between fine art, intervention, illustration, fashion and performance. Burgerman references and playfully questions popular culture in his work through humour and arresting, colourful visuals. His work has a pervasive and instantly recognisable aesthetic that exists across a multitude of forms including canvases, large scale murals (indoor and outside), sculpture, toys, apparel, design, print and people (as tattoos and temporary drawings). His artworks are coveted worldwide and collected in several museums and institutions. Burgerman’s recent works include a focus on what he calls 'quiet interventions', where subtle, often cheap, nonpermanent actions drastically (and sometimes comically) alter the reading of a signifier, object or situation. He encourages mistakes, experiments and unexpected occurrences within his practice to allow for improvisation and new ways of making. It's Burgerman's belief that through playful, creative acts, Art can act as an agent to change the world, by being the catalysis to allow people to change their own worlds.