Artist Spotlight: Badger & Burke
BADGER & BURKE is the weird, colourful lovechild of Vancouver-based illustrators Holton Brock and Jamie Armstrong. Having just launched in 2017, these artists are hard at work creating a line of eclectic greeting cards and art prints (with more paper goodies coming) inspired by retro design, puppies, good food and bad puns.
We had a feeling the guys behind this fun brand probably don't take themselves too seriously. Read on to learn more about Holton and Jamie, the birth of Badger & Burke, and how Mel C's gold tooth is involved.
Tell us about the birth of Badger & Burke.
We knew for years this was something we wanted to do together, but finding the time to build a brand from scratch was a whole other story. In early 2017, we ran away from Vancouver, spent two months traveling through India, and then ended up in Bangkok, where we settled into a small studio/apartment and spent six months drawing, cutting paper, stuffing our faces with amazing food, and creating the collection that would become our little family of greeting cards. We returned to Vancouver in September, launched our brand a month later, and have put in everything we could to build Badger & Burke to what is is today!
Did you always want to be an artist, even in childhood?
Yes! It was always something we both wanted but couldn’t see how it could actually be something we could do professionally. We both studied painting and printmaking in art school and were always more on the “fine art” side of things. It took us a little while to see our potential in a more commercial sphere. While we were in school, neither of us would have ever thought of becoming greeting card designers, but hey, you really never know how things are going to turn out!
What is your favorite medium to create with?
Paper and pens! Most of our designs start as paper cut-outs and pen drawings on tracing paper.
What inspires you?
As we mentioned before, we both have a long-standing love affair with mid-century graphic design and illustration. The use of colour and cut outs from the 50s and 60s was a huge part of our conversation when creating the look and feel of our cards. We’re also huge music fans - it’s rare when there isn’t music playing in our studio. We also draw inspiration from our travels (especially for colour), tropical fruit, puppies, Mel C’s gold tooth, our lame sense of humour, candy, Matisse, Robert Rauschenberg, and Nikki de Saint Phalle.
Do you ever get “creative block”? If so, how do you combat it?
Oh, most definitely. And it can get quite scary and frustrating when your livelihood depends on your creativity. It’s certainly not foolproof, but sometimes even flipping through a good art or design book can help, or watching trash on TV to clear the mind (way too much House Hunters International…)
What does a typical day at your studio look like?
We start our day with emails, social media, and coffee. Then we’ll pack and ship orders (it seems like we’re always packing cards these days… heh) We usually take a trip to the post office in the afternoon, and extend that into a bit of a walk where we’ll discuss new concepts for products, spy on dogs, and drink more coffee. After dinner is usually when we work on new designs. Our best design work always seems to happen late into the evening!
What would your dream job be (other than what you are doing now)?
Holton: I’m in love with good book design… Working on book covers would be a blast!
Jamie: I’m a weirdo who would love to be a puppeteer for the Jim Henson company!
What do you enjoy doing in your “free time?”
We love spending our time watching horror movies (which is kind of a hilarious contrast to the work we create); keeping up a little too much with faded pop stars; hanging out at the beach (we’re very lucky to live just a few blocks away, so most summer evenings involve the beach in some way); and food, whether it’s cooking, eating, or being on a never-ending journey to find the best _____ in the city.
We hear you are working on Calendars for 2019. Can you tell us a bit about it?
Yes! We started working on our Cocktail Calendar last year but since we launched our brand relatively late in the year it wasn’t quite the right time to put this baby out into the world. But the time is now, and we’re so excited about it. We’re super proud of the illustrations and think it will be a really fun and colourful addition to our catalogue.
As a new stationery brand, you guys already have an impressive line. Are you thinking of expanding beyond greeting cards and calendars?
As much as we love making greeting cards, we are absolutely looking to expand. This fall/winter, along with releasing the Cocktail Calendar, we'll be working on a few notebooks and notepads. Of course, we'll also be working up more card designs that we think are a hoot!
Stay tuned for more from Badger & Burke in the next year!