• Amy Burvall

Standing on the Shoulders: The Artists Who Have Influenced Me

I talk about remix a lot – probably more than most people. I even have a pretty meaty G+ community that houses all kinds of examples. I also sketch a lot- in fact, this past year, I’ve averaged about 10 sketches a day for my various projects: Serendipidoodle, #100daysofhashtaggerie, Drawmour, #threethirtysketchquote, and My day in One Word – not to mention the ones I do for keynotes (about 350 per one hour keynote). I upload most of these to my My-conography Tumblr. Sketching every day has been cathartic for me. When I’m stressed or sad, it’s the perfect release. I tend to look forward to the times I have to sketch (usually before 6am and after 7 pm, but I try to do that 3:30 one because that is my absolute worst time of day). Over time I’ve become more skilled, I think, and have developed a distinctive style. What they say about practice is true- you really do get better and it doesn’t have to be overwhelming..you simply need to do a little each day.

“Sakura” – one of my favourite recent pieces

And to show you the value of practice, this is the VERY FIRST doodle I made with Paper 53.

Not a Sketchnoter!

Although I tend to use the app Paper by 53 (and their stylus, Pencil), I also enjoy analog doodling. People often lump me together with other edu-sketchnoters, but I try to make a distinction, because while oftentimes I am illustrating an idea (related to education or edtech), I tend to be more impressionistic. That is, true sketchnoters seem to try to capture a lot of ideas on one canvas…they synthesize information (brilliantly) from an entire lecture or article into one visual with many detailed components. They’ve developed a “visual grammar” with repeated elements, like connectors (arrows, etc.) and specific fonts that show hierarchy. On the contrary, I think of my approach as more of “metaphorical iconography”. It probably stems from my love of highly stylized graphic design, such as that found in 20th century propaganda posters.

Back to remix:

Portrait of Austin Kleon, author of Steal Like an Artist

My personal artistic tastes are very eclectic – I adore the chiarascuro of Caravaggio and the whimsy of Chagall...but when it comes to influencing my personal style, I think it comes down to a few greats – separated by the ages perhaps but definitely similar to some extent in style.

(my remix of Caravaggio’s Sick Bacchus)

These are:

Albrecht Dürer (b. 1471) Edvard Munch  (b. 1863) Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (b. 1864) Pablo Picasso  (b. 1881) Saul Bass (b. 1920) Roy Lichtenstein (b. 1923) Shepard Fairey (b. 1970 – same year as me!)


I always thought my Gutenberg portrait looked like a woodcut


Like Dürer, the lines of lithography abound in Edvard Munch’s work. There are SO many versions of his “Skrik!” (i.e. The Scream) but my favourite has got to be the lithograph poster version – all black and white.



Saul Bass

Inspired in part by Saul Bass

I used this to represent “low barrier entry” but it’s quite Hitchock-meets-Bass


Talk about bold! Of course Lichtenstein’s primary colour cartoon-inspired style is the epitome of cool. I really love the composition – how he gets in close to his subjects and often cuts them off. Mostly I dig his girls. They are midcentury pretty and, being that I often draw girls, I tend to gravitate toward that aesthetic.

Shepard Fairey

I’m a Fairey fan girl! His take on memes and remix culture have greatly influenced my personal philosophy. I tend to adore street artists in general for their sarky irony (like Banksy of course), but Shepard has such a propaganda-poster-derived style it’s right up my alley. My favourite piece of his is this girl:

Personalized Palette – you know, like your fingerprint 🙂

#art #austinkleon #chagall #roylichtenstein #education #sketchnote #pablopicasso #saulbass #artist #toulouselautrec #albrechtdurer #shepardfairey #paperby53 #metaphor #caravaggio #amyburvall #edvardmunch #remix #drawing #visualthinking

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