Chris Burke gave up a cushy job as an advertising director to become an inky fingered son of toil some time ago. Since then he has illustrated for most major British publications and many around the world.
He also paints on a large scale, murals for festivals and private commissions.
He can be commissioned for Oil Portraits too.
Recently he has taken up drawing Live, on the spot caricatures for corporate and social events. For more info contact;
01892 531329 0772 5946695
Interview with Harry’s of London.
1. Tell us a bit about your background in illustration. How did you start your professional career as an illustrator?
I did a foundation course at St Martin’s ,then Graphic Design and Art History at Canterbury College of Art.
When I left I worked as an Art Director in a couple of Advertising agencies for about five years. I saw illustrators coming in with their work and I thought,’I could do that’. So I saved for a year, gave up work and starved for a year.
I got my lucky break when I walked into the Radio Times and was commissioned to draw a picture for St Patrick’s Day. I worked for them every week for the next five years.
2. What artists or illustrators influence your work?
Toulouse Lautrec, Degas, Daumier, Edmund Blampied, Ronald Searle, Ralph Steadman and Ed Sorel.
3. How would you describe your style of illustration? What inspires you?
Social satire. Caricature. Humorous observation. I like to capture movement. I like the line to be fluid and the colour to be transparent.
4. You have written and illustrated quite a few children’s books. What’s your favourite childhood book?
Treasure Island Robert Louis Stevenson .My favourite illustrated version is by Mervyn Peake.
5. You have a knack for capturing images of the archetypal British male, hunting, playing polo. Is this how you view the quintessential Brit?
I guess it is all about style, panache.Bien dans sa peau-to be happy in one’s skin. I love depicting all the different ever changing types, the variety of fashions and the divergent characters that society throws up.
6. Are you a traditionalist at heart?
In some ways but I like and embrace change.
7. There seems to be a resurgence of traditionalism in fashion: bespoke tailoring, handcrafted cobbling. What is so appealing about the classic British aesthetic?
Well it’s just that , Classic. Nothing new that’s really good comes out of the blue, it’s built on all the great things of the past. This applies to every art form including fashion.
8. Are your caricatures inspired by real people?
Absolutely. There is nothing stranger than real life.
9. Where did you start when sketching the classic Harry’s of London guy? How did you construct him?
A quick walk to South Audley Street and there he was .There were several versions of him walking up and down the road.
I had a long talk with Kevin who has a very clear idea of who the Harry’s guy is.
10. How do you feel about the move to digital illustration, using forms such as the iPad? Have you used these mediums or do you prefer the tried and tested pencil and paper?
I am an inky fingered dinosaur. I like the feel of the paper, the sharpness of the pen, the swoosh of colour onto a flat white surface, the instinctive connection between the hand and the eye. There is nothing else like it. Rather than constantly trying to catch up with each new piece of kit, I’m like a clock that’s stopped ,I’m right twice a day.
I’m not a Ludite though. I love all the things computers can do. It’s great for reference, scanning, corrections, flat backgrounds , generally playing around and best of all delivery. What ever technology comes along nothing replaces the ability to think and draw.
I also do lightning portraits in pencil or pen and large lenghthier portraits in oil.
11. What are your plans for the future?
I will probably have a cup of tea in an hour or so. After that who knows?