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This Whimsical Picture Book Makes a Mess of Itself

Jon Burgerman's call-and-response picture book is filled with colorful puns.

Andrew Nunes

All images courtesy the artist.

The googly-eyed, doodle-filled animations of artist Jon Burgerman are the type of art that can be enjoyed by anyone of any age or background. The universal humor and visual clarity comes together with the poignancy of a Dr. Seuss book, which might be why the UK-born, NYC-based artist is on track to release four picture books this summer. His first and currently only one already published is SPLAT!, a children's picture book that invites the audience to engage and with the book at each page.

Each page of SPLAT! consists of a different solid, bright color and the beginning and end of a visually interactive pun. The first page shows a faceless green blob, next to which a pair of eyes ask "What happens when you turn the page?" Following the prompt, the same blob gets "splat" upon by the following page, gaining the set of eyes slammed upon it. The visual jokes continue in this format, with pies, confetti, toast, and dozens of other things being splat on.

The successful concept and execution of SPLAT! is somewhat expected, given Burgerman's hilarious and popular Instagram page filled with short cohesive video animations. "The idea for SPLAT! came about when I was thinking about animations and cartoons. On one hand, I was thinking about the slapstick nature of cartoons, and how kids really enjoy cruelty and violence (to a degree!)," Burgerman tells Creators. "On the other hand, I was thinking about how an animation is really just still images played back in a way that our brains perceive as being in motion."

One can feel an animator's touch within this picture book. The "splatting" puns are meant to be the result of physically flipping the page. Movement is inherent, which was precisely Burgerman's intention. "All of these ideas were swirling around in my brain whilst also wondering about what happens to a drawing when you turn the page," he adds. "Where does it go? What might happen to it? What might happen to the previous page when it's pressed against the page underneath it?"

While the medium has changed in SPLAT! and his other picture books, Burgerman believes they derive from the same creative explorations present in his other works. "The core values I hope are held in my practice is of a shared creative enquiry," the artist explains. "I hope that as I play and investigate different ways of making, it will inspire others to create for themselves."

The artist says, "Each drawing, doodle, project, or performance I make should act as a starting point for someone else to be inspired from. That's what I want, for everyone to discover the joy of creating. I hope my work is inviting in that way. And if not, then that at least I hope my work is funny and entertaining."

More of Jon Burgerman's work can be found on his website and Instagram page. You can purchase SPLAT! here. Stay tuned for Jon Burgerman's next books, It's Great to Create, Rhyme Crime, and Jon Burgerman's Daily Doodle all coming out later this summer.

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