Instagram: @joelburden
Twitter: @iamjoelburden
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1. What’s your story? Where are you from?

I’m from a town in the north of England called Doncaster. It’s a little rough around the edges, and at times, a little rough in the middle too, but I find that seems to breed some deeply creative people. Maybe it’s something in the air, or the threatening look you get from passers-by. Whatever it is, there’s pockets of cool art and music, you might just have to wade through some shit to find it.


2. Tell us about your aesthetic.

Bold and colourful. It’s always been the aesthetic in others work I’ve been most drawn to so it only made sense in my own practice. Maybe coming out of the grey and rainy north, I’m always hunting for something different. I remember watching a BBC documentary on Matisse a few years back and falling in love.

3. What is your favourite medium and why?

Being a 21st century man and coming from a graphic background, I’ve embraced digital. However, having said that, I get a little hot under the collar for print, and I have plans to dust off the paintbrushes. I’m also dabbling with motion, so there should be some brightly colour moving objects heading your way soon.

4. What is your artistic process like?

It always starts with looking. I try and keep my eyes open so to notice the little quirks in people and places. That’s usually followed by a good stint of mulling it over. Sat on my desk right now I have lists and lists of possible ideas for pieces, but 80 percent of them will probably never see the light of day. Some maybe because I don’t feel I’m ready to do them justice yet, others because I genuinely don’t know if they’re worth anything to anyone (arguably the most important stage). Once I decide to go forward with one however, I start by sketching it out, trying a few compositions, gathering reference images. Once I’m happy with it, I’ll scan it in and start working it up on Photoshop. It was Illustrator until very recently but I’m finding it less suited to what I need as time goes on. Choosing the right colour balance normally either makes or breaks a piece, and I’ll usually end up with 4-5 different palettes for each piece. Choosing which one is normally one of the hardest decisions of the whole process. Having said all that, I’m going through an experimental phase, so if anything gels I’ll mix it in there.

5. Who and/or what inspires your work?

Inspiration can come from anywhere so I try and keep a broad scope. There’s some incredible digital illustrators coming out of Scandinavia at the moment. However, I find myself just as inspired by fashion, sculpture and furniture as I do more 2-dimensional work.

6. What role does art play in your life? How does it change the way you view the world?

Because I find myself doing and thinking about it for the majority of any given day, it affects my life pretty massively. Without it, there’d be millions of people without a voice, a way of getting what’s inside out. We’d be less connected as human beings and the world would be an awfully drab affair.


7. Where did you study?

I went to Leeds College of Art to study in Graphic Design. The course was intense and they’ve got a great team there, but by the time I’d finished I was starting to question the direction of my practice. After a year of soul searching I’m back with a new focus. It’s still very early days but I’m much happier in myself, and with each piece of work I take another step towards where I want to be. Though I must admit I still have at least one day a week where I convince myself I’m no good, but usually one kind word drags me out of it. Never underestimate the power of a kind word.

8. Where do you see yourself in five years? Working in an agency?

Most of the time it’s hard enough to imagine where I’ll be in 5 months, never mind years. I’m in a hugely transitional stage of my life. But I suppose ideally, I’d like to be making things that other people get some genuine pleasure from, and if we’re talking wishful thinking, that I’m also earning enough money from to keep myself caffeinated and in badly fitting clothes.

9. What about in ten?

I don’t know. Alive?

10. What do you hope to achieve with your art?

I’ve already mentioned the pleasure of others. Because I find, and I imagine a whole bunch of other artists would agree, that I’m never truly satisfied with what I’ve produced. Whenever I get worried about what other people might think about my work, I always remember, that no one will look at it in a harsher light than yours truly. And though somedays it drives me to despair, it’s exactly that which keeps me looking on how I can improve. Don’t get me wrong though, I do enjoy what I do. Scouts honour.


11. Now, tell us a little more about you as a person: what is your favourite food?

If I was on death row, I reckon it’d probably just be a cheese and tomato pizza. I’d like to say it’d be some real gourmet shit, but I think when it came down to it, just hit me with some cheese and bread. Simple pleasures.

12. Favourite book?

Recently I’ve been reading a lot of 20th century American writers. Hemingway etc. But if we’re really talking me and a book getting intimate, then Harry Potter for the win. I was going to say guilty pleasure, but you know what, I don’t feel guilty at all.

13. Favourite genre of music?

This one hugely varies. Music is a big part of my life so I try and listen to as many different things as possible. I guess if I had to choose, it’d be alternative rock. But again, ply me with a few beers and stick on a groovy bass line and I’m all yours.

14. What are your hobbies?

90% of my time is taken up with this art thing I do. When I’m not doing that or sleeping, I’ll watch films, read and cook. Big fan of film, to the point where I bought a whole load of gear to start making some of my own. When I had the time I’d find myself watching 3 a day.

15. If you weren’t an artist, what would you be?

A bum. Failing that, something humanitarian or to do with food and drink.