It's always, always a good idea to go to conferences.
I was reminded of this earlier this month when I attended the TOCA ME design conference that takes place every year in Munich. I hadn't gone for several years, and thought it might be good to get some worldly inspiration now that I'm emerging from the cocoon of early motherhood.
I was right! I didn't even pay attention to who the speakers were, and just figured at least a couple would be worth catching. Right again.
The first speaker was Anthony Burrill. I hadn't heard of him, but the pal I attended the conference with reminded me that he was the guy that did the 'Work Hard & Be Nice to People' poster. Oh yeah, right. I'd seen those floating around.
He opened talking about his love of simple and direct visual communication. As examples, he highlighted a suffragette in a poster dress, the I AM A MAN civil rights campaign posters and mentioned his new hero, Sister Corita Kent, a nun and silk screening artist who focused on themes of love and peace in the 60s, 70s and 80s.
Yes, this was definitely my jam.
He went on to share his simple one sentence philosophies about life and work. After moving out to the British countryside he kept noticing spare but beautiful letterpress posters for events around town. This lead him to discover a local letterpress shop where he started making posters, one of which became his 'Work Hard & Be Nice To People', which went viral.
He shared a lovely short video illustrating his letterpress process that inspired this quick text exchange with my dad during the talk:
Much of his work is political. The endless mass shootings we've been witnessing inspired him to collaborate with photographer Robbie Augusburger on the 'Innocent Target' project using images of ordinary people as shooting range targets.
They planned to take the exhibit to the U.S., but the project wound up on some NRA chat boards and they started receiving death threats from gun nuts, so the exhibit remained in London. Nice.
You can stare agog and with envy at his home and studio which he describes as Agricultural Minimalism.
After looking at my Instagram feed I realized why his work resonated so much with me. Oh, I like big typographic posters too :
At the end he made a crack about graduating in the '1890s, I mean 1990s' which I laughed a little too hard at, and then noticed I was kind of the only one laughing. Oy.
Anyway, thanks for the inspiration Anthony. You can find out more about him and see all of his work here.