Featured Artist/Illustrator

Joel Burden

April 2019

The talented Joel Burden talks us through his 'well-trodden route' from graduating Graphic Design, to being in limbo and questioning his next move, to the evolution of him becoming an Illustrator. He gives some great advice on developing your style through being obsessed with with what you do. Finishing up with his plans for the next 12 months are to play!

Did you have a plan for graduation and what actually happened?

I’ve come from a Graphic Design background, so I guess I planned to follow the well-trodden route after graduation and find some placements/internships in studios that sparked interest. By that time however, I was already riddled with mounting fear over whether I actually felt fulfilled by what I was doing, or I was just doing it because I’d already spent so long doing it. It’s hard to spend a chunk of your life striving towards something, only to find that the something isn’t necessarily what you wanted. After that I spent around a year almost in limbo. I knew I wasn’t sure if I wanted to pursue Graphic Design, and in equal measure, I wasn’t sure where that left me. With the gift of hindsight, this period was actually monumentally helpful in me getting to where I am now, at the time however, it left me deeply unsettled. Eventually, after some time away from everyone and everything and doing some fairly mundane jobs, you realise without that creative outlet to express yourself, something fundamental to your very being is missing. I moved home, and started fresh. That process naturally evolved into Illustration, and is still evolving into areas I wouldn’t of expected, like painting and sculpture.

Talk us through a typical working day include for you right now.

Being freelance, my working day has been a system of trial and error, and I can’t stress the word ‘error’ enough. Recently however I’ve been getting into a groove that works for me. I’ll normally get up early, eat a quick breakfast and try and get out the door to and to the studio as swiftly as possible (it can be easy to be a little liberal with your time when no ones going to tell you off for getting in a little late). When I arrive, I’ll have a coffee and make a plan for the day/reply to correspondence. After that you just need to get to it. I’ll stay till around 8PM most days, with a break in the middle for food and maybe a run to get outside, little self-care things. The key is to put yourself in an environment you can be productive in, and stay there until you are. If you haven’t got any commissions on, you should be passionate enough in what you do to make something anyway.

How did you develop your style as an illustrator and what tips would you have for others?

It’s something I’m still trying to figure out myself, and always will be I imagine. I think naturally, with time and patience, it will take shape. Most people begin by imitating work by others they admire, from which you understand what interests/doesn’t interest you, but at a certain point you risk losing your own voice. Moving forward, it’s about trusting yourself, and having the confidence to stick by the decisions you make. Hopefully from this, a style will begin to grow organically, and one that is very much your own.


2019 in a sentence- Don’t let the bastards grind you down.


What advice would you give students graduating in 2019?

Make work that interests you, and put the time in. A lot of time. Be obsessed with what you do, do it as much and as often as you can, whenever you can, and be patient with yourself. Nothing will happen overnight. Don’t be drawn into doing things for likes, it will leave you feeling hollow and unfulfilled. You have a lot to say and give, value your own opinion.

Whats on the cards professionally and personally in the next 12 months?

Play. I’m interested with making things more tangible with paint and clay. Allowing things to develop naturally I think. If an idea might project better in 3D or animated, try it. Be open to possibility. Personally I think I’m just trying to be kind to myself, when you feel good you’re more likely to do good.

2019 for you in a sentence.

Don’t let the bastards grind you down.

Website: joelburden.com

Instagram: joelburden

Twitter: joelburden


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