After finishing a Graphic Design course at Leeds College of Art, Joel Burden realised that pure design didn’t suit him and he craved a greater degree of personal expression. After taking some time out to draw and experiment Joel managed to win a pencil at the D&AD New Blood Awards 2016 where he had started to build towards his current aesthetic. Joel said “It was difficult at times, having to re-wire my brain away from design, but revitalising. I have also tried to let graphic elements, such as bold colours and shapes, feed into my practice. It’s an ever-evolving process and I’m still very much at the start of it.”
Joel’s piece ‘Bathtime in Blue’ was inspired by a visit to the Tate and seeing Ophelia by Millais. Playing with the idea of taking recognisable paintings and adapting them into a modern context. With an underlying feeling of depression, which Joel suggests is maybe a consequence of contemporary pressures and the day to day.
“It’s interesting for me to have this juxtaposition of a bold, fun and colourful aesthetic paired with themes of anxiety and disillusionment. For example, ‘Feet and things feet don’t like’ out of my sketchbook, was originally just me drawing some reference sketches, but when you draw plugs and lego blocks around them, it becomes something more.”
‘Room with a Hockney’ and ‘Remix of an Alice Neel’ are ways in which Joel takes what inspires him and uses them as studies to experiment with how he approaches things stylistically. Joel’s clever use of colour and contrast within his work allows him to create depth to each piece, when using flat digital colour would usually make this trickier. Finding the balance always ends up being a massive part in each of Joel’s pieces, one which can make or break it.
Having recently completed his first published editorial illustrations, Joel is currently working on a series of prints and paintings, as well as experimenting with animation.