Frequently Asked Questions (1–29 of 29)

What’s the weirdest thing you have ever doodled on?

A persons passport. I suggested they might prefer me to draw on something else but they were insistent.

What would you most like your audience to take away from your doodles?

A sense of excitement that you can creatively think your way out of (or into) any sort of trouble you like.

What is your process when doodling, is there any planning?

I think about what I want to draw, how it might look or more likely, how it might feel. I draw. I keep drawing, starting a new page when I'm bored / done / happy / horrified with the last drawing I made. I end up with a bunch of drawings I can select the best bits from, depending on what it is I'm doing.

Is that your real name?

No really, it is! My parents thought it’d be a laugh to call me Jon, what jokers eh? You can only imagine the playground chants I endured.

Do you have any advice on doodling?

Doodling is a hard master if you want to take it seriously, it’s a piece of pie if you just want to mess around though. Always sharpen your pencils and keep your desk tidy. Carrying a sketchbook with you at all times is useful, though you have to remember to draw in it once in a while.

Where can I find out more about you?

Why not look here:

Where can I find out more about you in books?

The following new publications feature my work in some way:

  • Latex For Fun book published by Die Gestalten Verlag - Ballooons are the new urban vinyl
  • Jeremyville Sessions book published by IdN - works by Jeremyville and his chums
  • If You Could Do Anything Tomorrow… 2 book - nice illustrations about wish fulfillment
  • Los Logos 3 published by Die Gestalten Verlag - a book a logos
  • Pictoplasma ‘The Character Encyclopedia’ - The great new book from Pictoplasma.
  • Dot Dot Dash published by DGV - A gaint new character book.
  • 300% Cotton published by Laurence King - Cool collection of t-shirt graphics.
  • Tattoo Icons published by Viction:ary - Amazing book about tattoos, comes in a lavish box.
  • The Art of Rebellion 2 published by Publikat - Street art and activism book.
  • Print and Production Finishes for Promotional Items published by RotoVision - nice things.

Which artists do you like?

This is by no means an exhaustive list but here’s some artists I like and draw inspiration from;

Javier Mariscal, Scott C, Kevin Waldron, Al Murphy, You Byun, Oliver Jeffers, Yoshitomo Nara, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Barry McGee, Mike Mills, Phil Frost, Keith Haring, Kurt Schwitters, Chris Ware, Cy Twombly, Picasso, Geoff Mcfetridge, Paul Davis, Devilrobots, Adam Neate, Alex One, David Shrigley, Martin Creed, Kris Martin, Keith Tyson, Dave The Chimp, Larry David, Eddie Martinez, Alison Knowles, John Cooper Clarke, Mark E Smith, Vincent Gallo, … I’ll add more as I can think of them.

Who, what, where and when do you get your inspirations from Mr Burgerman?

That’s too many questions at once. Generally I reach for The Big Book of Art Ideas and steal everything from there. Inspiration, like chewing gum, can be found everywhere. Sometimes you don’t even have to look for it, you’ll just be walking along and -bam- you’ll get some inspiration, or some chewing gum on your shoe.

What type of markers, paints, pens, etc. you use when colouring your work?

I use whatever I can get hold of that hasn’t already run out. Pen wise I like a nice old honest, chewed at the end biro or a sleek Pentel Hybrid Gel Grip. I use a wide variety of felt pens, from Berols to Sign pens to chunky markers, like Sharpies.

When painting I use a mix of household emulsion and cheap acrylics. Some of the cardboard pieces and wall paintings I’ve done also utilise Posca pens, which are from Japan. Sometimes they’re a little difficult to get hold of but are worth tracking down as they give a nice flat colour on most surfaces and are very quick and easy to use.

How would you characterise your work?

Wonky, wibbly, odd, angry, happy, dumb, wrong.

How do you start your character and illustrations?

Quite often my work is done in one drawing that just seems to fit perfectly. However, sometimes it can take many many drawings to get to just the right one. Each drawing serves as experience for the next one too, so with each character and illustration I make really I’m just practicing a little more for the next one I do.

What advice would you give to get your illustrations into the market?

Best thing to do is work really hard on your illustrations, make a website, let people know about your site and keep it updated regularly. If things don’t go so well to begin with don’t worry it can take ages for your genius to be recognised. The important thing is to keep working and showing your work wherever you can; exhibitions, competitions, magazines, fanzines, posters, flyers, tattoos etc.

Did you teach yourself to draw, is there a system of abstraction or is it a natural style?

The style I draw in is simply my natural way of drawing. It has become more refined over the years as anything would if you do it everyday. If there is a method / system of abstraction it is applied whilst drawing and thinking at the same time.

Do you use a graphic tablet to create your digital work?

I hand draw pretty much everything and scan the work in. Sometimes I’ll use something like Live Trace in Illustrator to turn my black and white drawings into vector shapes.
I very very rarely trace around the drawing with a path. I’ve recently (late 2009) started using a Wacom Cintiq and am exploring what I can do with it - it’s a lot of fun and an amazing piece of hardware.

How did you get started?

Once I had graduated from University (I studied Fine Art) I built a website and started to add my work to it. Every so often I’d email a few people I knew to let them know I’d updated it. The more people I met and chatting to about work, I’d email. Over the course of time my website had a lot of work on it and more people were becoming interested in the doodles. I picked up some jobs here and there, and when I wasn’t working, I just kept on practicing my drawing and adding to the site. There was never a big turning point when I suddenly got lots of work, it just all slowly built up over time.

Do you plan out your composition before drawing on the wall?

Nope. I might have a rough idea in my head or very occasionally I’ll have a loose sketch in my sketchbook but most of the time I have no plan whatsoever, which for me, is part of the fun/challenge. Plans slow things down and it would be impossible to plan a really intricate work and then follow it when drawing on a big wall.

When you drawing on the wall what is the drawing material you use?

Generally I’ll use a Posca pen to draw out the piece on the wall. Then, depending on size, I’ll colour areas in with Poscas or cheap acrylic paint mixed with emulsion.

During your time studying at art college did you have the same style as you do now?

it wasn’t exactly the same but obviously related, my style has evolved over the years and will continue to do so (I hope). The way that I draw is linked to the way I write and sketch, think and speak. The style is built upon a natural way of working and was not designed or strategically worked out.

What do you do to get out of a creative block?

Sleep, run away, do something completely different. Straining causes pains so sometimes it’s just best to take a break and re-approach the problem later. A good lunch and a walk outside can solve most things.

Do you have a certain philosophy on design/life in general?

I think it might be; Less waste, less haste, less hate, less work. Time is so short so you should try and have fun whilst not ruining anyone else’s fun at the same time.

Is there a meaning behind your drawings, are the characters linked in anyway?

There’s meaning behind almost everything, even if its only a really small meaning. There’s meaning behind my work, perhaps more so my paintings and drawings that aren’t client commissioned, but i try and squeeze in my own thoughts into everything. In fact, it’s difficult not to. The characters all come from the same place and all live in the same world. Some are Northern, others Southern, Eastern or Western. Some are friends, others have never met, but they all breathe the same air and often snore in their sleep.

Where are you from, what did you study, what is your shoe size?

I originate from the Midlands in the UK. I studied Fine Art at university in Nottingham, graduating in 2001. My shoe size is UK size 10, but on very rare occasions I can just about squeeze into a size 9 when a 10 isn’t available and I really like the shoes.

Do companies let you be free with what you produce for them?

It varies but generally I’m very lucky and get to have a lot of control over what I produce for companies. I’m not very good, creatively, when a brief is very exact and specific. I work best when I can use my imagination and the client trusts me to do so.

Have you ever refused to do a job and why?

Yes, many. Reasons include:

  1. not interested in it
  2. against the product in question
  3. not enough time
  4. not enough money
  5. knew I wouldn’t actually be good at that job so turned it down

Kidrobot Video Interview

Interview from Feburary 2009.

What are your tips for using POSCA pens?

  1. Only shake them with the lids on.
  2. Dab them and hold down on some scrap cardboard to get the ink coming through the nib.
  3. Don’t press them too hard into the wall or you might make them leak.
  4. If your bullet tip gets worn down, get a tissue, pull out the nib and flip it over.
  5. The pens are re-fillable (with your own ink) and you can buy new nibs for them, so hang on to the empties.
  6. They last a long time so if you think it’s run out repeat tips 1 and 2 a few times first to make sure.
  7. Don’t drink the ink.

A lot of your work mixes both analogue and digital techniques. Why do you choose to work this way?

Both techniques offer excellent and different qualities - why not cherry pick the best things each medium has to offer? Digital can save a lot of time and allow for easy amendments, scaling of work, adaption to digital media etc. Analogue is warmer, more human, allows for a easier emotive expression.

What would your advice be for students currently studying within creative courses like for example?

Research your field and get a clear idea of what you want to do and the best way to implement it. You might need to visit shops / galleries / venues etc. You might need to email / phone / meet people etc. You might need to google / read / watch stuff about it. Don’t just sit there and then hope to ‘enter the commercial world’ with no preparation. And don’t forget to learn as you go on, in many ways when you start engaging with things outside of Uni your real learning has just begun…!