Tumblr Girls


Take a virtual stroll (er, scroll) through the wonderfully warped mind of Jon Burgerman, who’s offering up his playful interpretation of the selfie-sharing, interweb-surfing phenom that is the modern girl in the world. The Brit-born/NYC-based artist has us yearning to plaster our walls with his color-injected “Drawings of Girls I’ve seen on Tumblr“, a web-based project which is updated regularly (where else?) on Tumblr. With chromatic scribblings of everything from anonymous blogger babes to iconic fashion photography like Naomi Campbell as Cat Woman in Vogue Russia, it’s safe to say we’ve just found our new online obsession. Here, the Brooklyn dude dishes on his inspiration, the intrigue of going against generic beauty ideals and, duh, why gurlz rule.

What prompted the project?

I’m not sure. I had just joined Instagram and was interested in the sudden flow of other people’s pictures that you get on the feed there. And it was the same with Tumblr. I kept seeing all these images that were immaculately executed to make you look at them. The longing down the lens. The glazed gaze. The interesting thing to me was not really knowing who the images were of or by. The shared visual language of amateur selfies, to professional fashion photography, to advertising images, to nostalgic screen-grabs was compelling and I felt I had to draw them to try and understand them and connect with them in some way.

 Why Tumblr? Why not, say, LinkedIn?

Tumblr is where people share and upload stuff they are inspired by. LinkedIn is about trying to get work and doesn’t have many images. The thing about Tumblr is that it’s encouraged to share content on your account, so very quickly an image can be removed from its origin. It bounces around the blogs, it gets lost in the mix and becomes part of the fabric. Tumblr is endlessly fascinating, like a teenager’s digital bedroom wall.

What do you look for in a Tumblr girl?

A mix of interesting visual clues. These can anything from their hair to their clothes to the colours to their pose to the props to the location to the context of the image. Whatever it is it just jumps out and I know straight away. If I have to think about it for too long then it’s probably not got that quality I need to want to draw from it. It has to compel me to want to draw.

Any overarching themes you’ve seen start to emerge?

Hmm, good question. I’m not sure, other than a lot of them follow current fashion trends. A lot of them seem to go for a generic ideal of beauty or desire but I’m more drawn to ones that are a little outrageous in some respect, or even strangely funny.

How quickly can you make a drawing of a Tumblr girl (Tumblr itself being a medium devoted to speediness of content-creation)?

Fast. I probably sit and do anywhere between 3-5 in an hour or so. I have very poor concentration. When something feels right and clicks, I can work very quickly. I sometimes think the speed of realising the piece is related to how well it will turn out. If I labour over something for too long it becomes over cooked. As you say Tumblr and the social media ideology has speed as an important factor. We want everything, and we want it NOW!

Why girls?

Girls are more badass than guys. I think the images of girls online and on Tumblr are more varied and interesting than that of the men. I’ve always been a bit jealous of girls’ clothing. Growing up everything I had to wear was grey, blue or black, straight and square.

Why do girls like to put photos of themselves on the Internet?

I think both girls and boys like putting photos of themselves online. We are creating a running narrative about ourselves. We are making stories and sharing them and we are the stars at the centre. The notion of celebrity is being broadened out, now you can be the celebrity on your street, or in your school or in your head. Sharing is caring too, right?

Where are you based?

I am British but for the last 2.5 years I’ve been living in New York City.

F/M/K: Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest?

Err, can you do those things to online networks? I guess I like Tumblr then Instagram then Pinterest (I don’t have a Pinterest account). Hey does this mean Facebook is over now? And Google Plus?? BEBO!?!

When you’re not drawing the girls of Tumblr, you can be found…?

Find me on my website, on Instagrammaking silly observations, or eating garlic knots at my local pizzeria in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.