Interview: So Young Artist Series #5: Ed Burkes

The So Young Artist Series is an ongoing project in which we collaborate with some of our favourite artists and designers on one-off items of clothing. In our fifth edition we’ve collaborated with artist, Ed Burkes. We’ve been following Ed’s work for past the few years and it’s featured in the print edition of So Young several times. Our collaboration t-shirt uses 6 of his pieces, ranging from paintings to ceramic tiles. We caught up with Ed Burkes about his work and the collaborative t-shirt.

How did you get into making art?

Serious Art making for me started to hold my attention in my late teens and it was painting that held more of a precedence than any other art from. – The thing I like about visual art is that the graft is all behind the curtains and I quite like that.

How do you go about starting a piece of work?

There is a lot of pretense that comes along with contemporary art and that can be problematic. My work is just an attempt to articulate nuanced feeling. It comes from a place of attempting to say something. The tactility of the hook of a pop song or the ribbon of an idiomatic phrase tows a line parallel with my intentions as a painter. I try and think of the process of making images similar to how the process of sampling can decontextualise a source but gives a referential nod under the same breath. This fuels my curiosity and formulates a thread that is worth pursuing. The honest attempt is what is so seductive about painting for me.

Tell us about a typical working day:

I walk to my studio and paint and have some coffee and paint more. There is just as much looking as there is actually painting. I try and pull my thoughts on the world in quite an abstract way as visual queries that interest me vary from day to day. Street signs on the way to my studio, litter in a woodland, discussions in a pub; is all fuel to work from. Listening to music helps me detach from where I am in the studio and to be completely enveloped by undulating emotional responses to what I am feeling rather than what I am trying to paint.

How do you want people to feel when they see your work?

I want people to respond to my work in a way that doesn’t have to necessarily be articulated. An inherent problem of my working process is that I don’t know how to clearly prompt what I’m feeling and making images helps me articulate without articulating in a way that is personal. Making art often feels like your trying to make bread but you keep forgetting to put the yeast in.

Whose work do you admire and why?

I admire Rose wylie, Roy Oxlade, Howard Hodgkin, Mary T. Smith, Matisse and Ozzy Osbourne.

Does music influence your work?

Music is intrinsic to facilitating my art making, it doesn’t work without loud uninterrupted music. I wish my speakers could go from 10 to 11. That extra push over the cliff you know?

Who is your favorite new band?


Please tell us a little about the pieces we’ve used on our Artist Series T-Shirt:

There are paintings, works on paper and a ceramic tile piece on the Tee. I’m currently in the process of trying to move elements of my painting into sculptural forms which is involving breaking down wooden chairs and tables and painting them. There is a clashing of text too. I like how splicing and pasting disseminates the archetypal preconception that short phrases often allure to. You can break text down very easily and I use it as a tool in my painting lots. It’s a real punchy way to ask questions without putting a question mark on the end.

What can we expect to see from you in the near future?

I’m currently based in the city of Derby for the year as I’m undergoing a 9-month residency called The Johnathan Vickers Fine Art Award. I have been incredibly lucky to have been given this opportunity and I’m so grateful every time I step in my studio. This culminates with a solo show at Derby Museums in September which then moves to the Mall Galleries in London in January 2021. From there we will see where the wind takes me, for now its important to give and receive as much love as possible (from a distance) and to stay safe.

T-Shirt available here.