The influential British graphic artist Anthony Burrill has designed a book about himself. His aphorisms, memories, pictures and collages guide us with optimism through his letterpress work. #fridayreads
Anthony Burrill, Make It Now! Creative inspiration and the art of getting things done, Virgin Books, London 2017, pp. 208.
Make It Now! is a magnificent graphic autobiography. In his elegant, concise style, Anthony Burrill juxtaposes pictures, personal memories, snippets of conversation, drawings, collages and typographical experiments. “Make it Now. Make it New” is the mantra at the base of the entire book. This is a manual that generously dispenses practical advice and precious rules for people starting out, looking for inspiration, wanting a method to follow or some fresh energy for their work.
A small selection of key personal episodes allow us to understand the kind of person Burrill is and how he became a successful graphic artist, print maker and designer. His account touches upon the early influence of his grandfather (an extensive traveller and storyteller); his youthful obsession with the pop-music scene of the 1980s (especially the band The Human League); his sudden love for vernacular typography, found in graphic design school in Leeds (where he met John Ross); the Royal College of Art in London (where he met his wife, the photographer Emma Parker); and his predilection for colour that must be “undiluted and as pure as possible”.
If you like Burrill, you will thoroughly enjoy every single page of Make It Now! It is a pleasure for the senses of sight, touch and smell. If you’re not yet familiar with the man, let yourself be seduced by his aphorisms, all based on first-hand experiences: “Find the extraordinary in the ordinary”; “Keep asking yourself the same questions. Be honest with your replies”; “The best projects start with good conversations”; and the famous “Work hard and be nice to people”. The project is presented with Burrill’s habitual simplicity, healthy, contagious optimism, straightforward tone and enviable clarity.
You might end up asking yourself if it is truly that easy to cultivate your talent. To speak with Burrill, a positive attitude helps – “Never underestimate the power of positivity. It makes things happen” – especially when combined with a good dose of perseverance and the courage to be original.