KN/PC Presents: Inside Look at Jez Burrows

For our second round of interviews we’re talking to British gentleman Jez Burrows about his poster for the book Walden by Henry David Thoreau. Jez has a very simplistic, but bold and graphic style that he employs, making the most of as little as possible. He’s worked for clients such as The New York Times, Time, Wired and Monocle to name a few.

Here’s what he had to say about his poster.

Why did you choose Walden?
I couldn’t choose one absolute favourite novel, so I narrowed it down to a shortlist. I’d initially attempted to do something on Murakami’s The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, but quickly discovered I was losing my mind and was seeing too many cats and soldiers in my dreams.
Walden appeals to me because while it’s certainly a book about society, self-reliance, and solitude (besides a hundred other things), the setting fascinates me. I’m originally from a very rural area in the south west of England, and there’s something remarkable about taking your thoughts to the woods.

What did you choose the images in the poster to represent the novel?
There are certainly enormous, complex ideas in Thoreau’s writing, but to deal with them explicitly felt incongruous with another dominant theme of the book: simplicity. I love how forested areas are typically represented in maps with miniature pictograms, so I took those as a starting point and developed an entire wood. I wanted to stress the solitude and enormity of the surroundings, but also hint at something special happening inside them.

Do you remember the first time you read the book?
It was actually quite recent, only August 2008. I was sat on the top bunk of a bed in a Stockholm hostel, stuck inside as the weather was aggressively bad. I love any book that demands you meet it as its own pace, and Walden does that. I’m yet to read it in an actual forest, but I’m planning to do so when I head home for the holidays.

What’s your favorite part of the book?
I can’t hope to articulate why, but the fifth chapter, Solitude, is certainly one of my favourites. Thoreau talks about sheltering from rainstorms, about darkness and mythology, but also completely questions our basis for understanding solitude. It is remarkable.

“I find it wholesome to be alone the greater part of the time. To be in company, even with the best, is soon wearisome and dissipating. I love to be alone. I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude. We are for the most part more lonely when we go abroad among men than when we stay in our chambers. A man thinking or working is always alone, let him be where he will. Solitude is not measured by the miles of space that intervene between a man and his fellows. The really diligent student in one of the crowded hives of Cambridge College is as solitary as a dervish in the desert. The farmer can work alone in the field or the woods all day, hoeing or chopping, and not feel lonesome, because he is employed; but when he comes home at night he cannot sit down in a room alone, at the mercy of his thoughts, but must be where he can “see the folks,” and recreate, and as he thinks remunerate himself for his day’s solitude; and hence he wonders how the student can sit alone in the house all night and most of the day without ennui and “the blues”; but he does not realize that the student, though in the house, is still at work in his field, and chopping in his woods, as the farmer in his, and in turn seeks the same recreation and society that the latter does, though it may be a more condensed form of it.”

Thanks again Jez!
To pick up Jez’s poster of Walden please click here.


December 15, 2009