When I graduated, I thought ‘How am I going to get in touch with people?’ This was pre-internet days, so I sent out postcards and printed stuff. It was something that everyone did. I wanted to do it in a slightly different way and play around with it, so I would make a little book or a foldout poster. The objects themselves started to become pieces of work, and I found out years later that people would actually keep them. I’d send stuff out that was quite cryptic and strange, and it was only later on that I thought to add a phone number so people could contact me!
Now, if you want to find out about somebody’s work, you just look at their Instagram. It’s a really good overview of what you’re up to; I hardly ever look at people’s websites. I get quite obsessed with following people and seeing what they’re up to. You get hooked into the narrative of people’s work.
Posting should be organic. If you haven’t got anything to say, don’t feel you have to post something every day. The work you produce is an extension of you, so you shouldn’t try too hard to create an image of yourself that doesn’t exist – I think people are savvy enough to see through that. It’s really important to be completely honest about who you are, what you’re doing and where you’re from.
Document as much as possible. I naturally take photographs of the process when producing a piece of work. It’s something I’ve always done – keeping one eye on how I’m going to talk about and tell the story of the project, from how it came about to the research. It can also be a good way to tease a project before you fully release it.
Try to post different things and show other aspects of your work. You’ve got to be consistent, but at the same time, if you always post the same kind of thing, people get bored. Within that consistency, there’s tonnes of things you can do to play around with how you present and challenge yourself.
Creating something printed can be really affordable and fun, from newspapers to postcards. It doesn’t have to be crazy and multicoloured, but it should reflect you and the character of your work. Just think about who you’re going to send it to and do your research. You might send things out to get a bit of feedback, or to a creative director or an art director you’d like to work for.
You have to be strategic. It’s not a good idea to send out 500 postcards and expect a result. Concentrate on maybe a dozen people and then follow it up. It’s about developing relationships with people that will lead somewhere and be more rewarding as a result.
Anthony Burrill is a graphic artist, print-maker and designer, known for his typographic artworks. His now iconic slogan print ‘Work Hard and Be Nice to People’ can be found on the most recent edition of the Lecture in Progress newspaper. Follow him on Instagram and Twitter. This article was originally published in August, 2017.