Burton Morris Interview – Pop Art ArtistInspiration September 23, 2007
Hello Mr. Morris, thanks for taking the time to speak with us. To start, may you please tell us a little about yourself and what you do?
I am a post pop artist. I love to paint, draw and create imagery and icons that relate to popular culture. My influences were cartoons, comic books and engravings. I enjoy using a lot of color in my paintings, especially bold colors that stand out along with very expressive energy like marks that help bring elements or objects I draw to life.
What were the early days like?
I actually went to school for graphic design where I studied typography, page layout and other aspects of graphic design. After college, I didnâ€™t have much more then ten dollars to my name and I came to a very scary realization: I asked myself â€œHow am I going to survive.” After working for a few years I decided to develop my painting style that I had been working on and I made the commitment to earn my living as a fine artist.
Who or what inspired you to develop the style you are known for?
lbrecht Durer and Rockwell Kent were great inspirations to me. Durer used a similar style of hatching marks in the sixteenth century. The twentieth century American artist Rockwell Kent also used similar markings in his work.
As I matured in my work, I tried to figure out how to almost draw or emulate lines or engravings. Over the years I collected comic books and followed a lot of the great illustrators. I believe Andy Warhol and others really opened the doors up for an artist like me.
How long did it take you to refine your style to a point where you were comfortable?
Iâ€™ve been doing this for about 25 years now and Iâ€™m still refining the style; maturing it and experimenting with it. I tried to capture the engraving or etching style, experiment with it and see where I could go with it.
What type of paint do you use for your paintings? Why?
I use acrylic on wood, canvas and paper. You get a flatter look with acrylic paint and it usually takes about four or five coats of paint to get the right texture and color. I try to be very meticulous when laying down the colors and I take my time.
Do you enjoy painting on canvas, wood, 3d objects or anything else above the others?
I tend to paint on a variety of surfaces such as stretched canvas, wood and paper. Iâ€™ve painted on metals and plastics as well. I like to experiment with different things.
What I really wanted to do was to see the objects I painted on a large scale, so I put them on large canvases. Seeing a popcorn box at a much larger then normal sizes has a different effect on people.
When did you establish Burton Morris Studios?
I established the Burton Morris Studios in 1990.
What is the best part about running your own studio?
As an artist you are always creating. Sometimes I’ll come up with my best ideas at 10 pm and work till 3 am. I enjoy having the flexibility to work at different hours or whenever I feel inspired to create something.
What is the most challenging aspect of being a professional artist?
Probably, keeping everything organized while you are creating, marketing, doing business and trying to keep on top on everything all at once.
Did you find it difficult to receive exposure for your work?
It is important to be patient as an artist. I have been very persistent and patient in achieving a lot of the things that have happened to me.
People need to see your work, know your name and know why they should show your work in a gallery. You need to create a solid portfolio and keep meeting people and showing your work as much as possible.
You really have to be committed to being a professional artist.
How long did it take before you started getting commissioned by well known people, companies and organizations?
My first couple years I was very aggressive with marketing my work. In 1992 I was selected as one of the absolute artists for a campaign. Then in 1993, the creators of the TV show “Friends” saw my art and though it would be nice to show the work on the sets, which helped a lot.
I also tried to show my work at galleries in New York, Los Angeles, Miami and such. It really just takes time; after a few years I started getting more commissions to do work. You just have to be persistent and patient.
Do you have any tips for aspiring artists looking to start their own studio?
As long as you have the passion and the drive inside and you believe in what you are doing; thatâ€™s most important. I would also advise taking some business and marketing courses because it will really help in the business world.