Anthony Burrill talks to Creative Boom about acid house, trusting his gut and being independent

 Image courtesy of Anthony Burrill

Image courtesy of Anthony Burrill

If you hear the phrase "Work Hard and Be Nice to People", you'll most definitely think of Anthony Burrill, the much-loved graphic artist, print-maker and designer. It's become something of a mantra within the design community and reflects his persuasive, positive style of communication that we've all come to know and love.

His iconic work is held in the permanent collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, New York and has been exhibited in galleries around the world including the Barbican Art Gallery, the Walker Art Center and the Design Museum, London.

Words and language play an important role in his output and his distinctive voice is sought after not only by collectors of his posters and prints but also by clients including Apple, Google, Hermés, British Council, London Underground and the Design Museum.

Born in Littleborough, Lancashire, Anthony studied Graphic Design at Leeds Polytechnic before he completed an MA in Graphic Design at the Royal College of Art, London. He now lives and works on the Isle of Oxney, Kent.

On an autumn day in London recently, I met Anthony for lunch and to interview him for our magazine, Creative Boom. Here's a little of what we talked about.

When did you realise you wanted to be a designer and artist?

Ever since I can remember I’ve been interested in visual culture, looking at record sleeves, collecting bus tickets, all that stuff. My art teacher at school recommended I went on a foundation course, that’s when I met lots of like-minded people and really started to get excited about art and design.

You've always done your own thing then?

When we all graduated from the Royal College of Art, me and my friends just started doing our own thing. In those days, there wasn't the design scene that there is now. And I couldn't imagine working anywhere really. So I set out on my own.

 After Hours exhibition at Jerwood Space gallery

After Hours exhibition at Jerwood Space gallery

 I LIKE IT. WHAT IS IT? 30 Posters by Anthony Burrill Published by Laurence King, designed by APFEL, text by Patrick Burgoyne

I LIKE IT. WHAT IS IT? 30 Posters by Anthony Burrill Published by Laurence King, designed by APFEL, text by Patrick Burgoyne

When did the big break come?

I did some stuff for MTV. That came about from my degree show at the College. Their creative director, Peter Dougherty, came up to me and gave me his business card and said, come see us in Camden. But it took me ages to pluck up the courage to do so. When I finally did, Peter asked me what I wanted to do at MTV and I didn't know. He suggested animation. So I started off making these really weird little animations.

Of course, MTV used to be quite anarchic back then. So you could get away with anything. Which was great. So I spent a couple of years at MTV, freelancing and creating things like on-air menus and graphics, stuff like that.

Is that where the typographic, text-based compositions come from?

I'd always been interested in typography but never really got into it when I was at college. I was kind of faffing around with it. But then that developed as my approach and style evolved. It was a very long gradual development but that was where the seed was planted.

 Large scale letterpress print made using a vintage steam roller, commissioned by Ditchling Museum of Art and Craft

Large scale letterpress print made using a vintage steam roller, commissioned by Ditchling Museum of Art and Craft

To read the full interview with Anthony Burrill, visit Creative Boom.

Katy Cowan

Manchester, England,