There aren’t enough words to describe Jon Burgerman. Playful, funny and spontaneous are a few, but while he is all of these things, these words fall somehow fall short. Jon Burgerman is a self-proclaimed ‘salad enthusiast’ who seems to have accidentally stumbled upon an art career. In his talk at FITC Toronto 2012, he tells the audience how it all happened (while including some short anecdotes along the way) in the form of a whimsical and witty slideshow of various media.
Burgerman began his talk by listing some of his influencers, which include English satirist Chris Morris, videogame creator Shigeru Miyamoto, novelist Brett Easton Ellis, cartoonist Matt Groening and many more – it’s clear that his influences are plentiful and mostly quirky.
Burgerman started making art spontaneously – doing the odd canvas or street art installations for fun. What’s clear though, even from his earliest efforts, is his ability to improvise and find new ideas. For example, it started to rain while he was doing a wall mural and the paint began to smudge and blend in ways he didn’t intend for them to. While some would call the project a failure or be discouraged, he found inspiration and began experimenting by creating those effects intentionally.
Musicians began asking Jon to make album art for their CDs, including electronic musician Charles Webster. Burgerman’s unique art style of quickly drawn doodles gained popularity and he began getting commissioned to do his art. It was then that he realized he could make money doing what he loves and has taken on project after project ever since.
Not everyone enjoys Jon’s work and he accepts this, but he does try to have fun with those that insult him. One such incident was when someone on twitter said that Jon couldn’t make art for toffee, a commonly used phrase in England. Jon then began sending people art in exchange for toffee, proving that he could in fact make art for toffee.
Jon has a colourful personality and a great imagination. These characteristics shine at his gallery shows where he encourages audience participation. For one of his shows, he drew an outline for a mural, but didn’t use any colours – this gave the audience an opportunity to participate by colouring between the lines.
For another show, he sold his work for very cheap, but whoever was buying it couldn’t choose which piece of art they bought – he would decide. Burgerman seems to start projects on whims. One day, Jon decided to start a band called ‘Anxieteam,’ despite admitting he isn’t a particularly good musician. Another time he parodied a skate video by making a salad on the street to a hard rock soundtrack. He also decided to make portraits of people on his Facebook on whim once.
Jon’s creativity seems to have no bounds because it comes naturally to him. Watching his talk, it was clear that he was having fun and that he wanted his audience to have fun too.