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My American Summer

The zany tale of an eccentric illustrator moving abroad

by Karen Day in Design on 28 May 2012

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Jon Burgerman is as easily distracted as he is a talented and obsessive doodler. Fortunately, his humorous ruminations recently made their way from his sketchbook to the printed page in a new self-published book called "My American Summer". The 92-page hardbound zine chronicles his move from Nottingham, England to NYC (by way of LA) through a cast of colorful cartoons, for a loose autobiography that charms readers with his honest observations and preoccupations—from the time he watched two girls on an airplane wash an apple in a plastic bag, to waiting in line at the post office (the place "where time goes to die").

Slightly bored with life back home in the UK, the illustrious illustrator decided to spend a summer stateside. Armed with his sketchbook and pens, Burgerman left the comforts of home in search of an adventure that he hoped would strip him of some unwanted baggage. The upshot is a detailed visual record of his journey told through his signature discombobulated drawing style, a manner that perfectly compliments the candidly pensive tale.

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Transforming his black-and-white drawings into full color stories, the book is packed with music-filled parties in the park, zany encounters in Brooklyn bars and curious trips to the cinema—where he watches his first film in 3D and eats chocolates left by a previous movie-goer. In the end, he realizes that whether you're on the moon, in the UK or in the US, "your baggage almost always comes with you." A delightful peek inside the mind of an artist, "My American Summer" sells online and at Moves concept shop in Williamsburg for £12 a copy.

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Those in NYC (where Burgerman has since elected to set up shop) can see his illustrations come to life through his performances with fellow artist Jim Avignon. Dubbed "Anxieteam", the duo create a laid-back atmosphere where you dance to songs strummed on the ukelele about soya or being lonely in the digital world. While the stage is lined with their own artwork, they invite the audience to participate by drawing their performance or to dance around in cardstock masks sporting Anxieteam's illustrations. It's creativity meets late night.

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