Welcome to the third instalment of the Cover Artist spotlight series. Today I am lucky enough to feature Roman Muradov. I love his work, it is eccentric, vivid and masterfully original. I am really enjoying this series, I am getting so many brilliant artists involved and I hope you are all enjoying the spotlight posts too. Roman has answered plenty of questions about his work and I am grateful for his time. He gives us some great insights into his work and personal life. I will share a quick bio and a few details about his work and then on to the questions!
About Roman Muradov
Originally from Moscow, Russia, Roman Muradov’s illustrations and comics have appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, GQ, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and numerous other magazines. Influenced by Georges Perec, Seth and Saul Steinberg, his quiet, surreal stories blend tragedy and comedy, creating an absurd and charming world in gentle brush lines and delicate colours. He loves tea and dislikes most other things.
The Q&A Section!
Can you start off by telling us a bit about yourself?
I’m an illustrator and author, originally from Russia, currently residing in San Francisco.
Could you tell us a bit about your career as a designer/artist?
I started in comics and editorial illustrator, although after a while I decided to branch out into other fields, focusing on my own books, and more complicated projects that involved illustration, art direction and design, as well as sometimes writing.
Where do you draw inspiration from when you set out to design a piece?
My main love is literature and comedy, and I usually look outside my medium for inspiration. In a way, it’s a process of translation.
Are there any artists or illustrators that you look up to or influence your work?
I’m sure I’ve been influenced by Jason, Saul Steinberg, Paul Klee and Tove Jansson. Among my contemporaries, I love the work of Sarah Mazzetti, Evah Fan, Tsuchika Nishimura, Beatrice Alemagna, and many many others–this is just off the top of my head.
Are you open to any sort of artistic project?
Yep, more-or-less. Unless it’s something hugely tasteless or offensive, but I don’t think anyone would consider me for that sort of thing.
What sort of challenges do you face as an artist in this industry?
Financial, mainly. Living in San Francisco is increasingly difficult, and I’m always looking for a San Francisco that’s not in San Francisco.
Have you got any projects going on at the moment that you could give some insights on?
I’m working on a very complicated graphic novel about Noah’s Ark without Noah or the Ark, and as always a bunch of illustration and design work, including posters for NY Opera and a book cover for Norah Lange, which I’m pretty excited about. There’s also three screenprints I designed inspired by my favorite Fall songs, and a few short stories that will appear in the upcoming Fantagraphics anthology Now.
What is your favourite Cover Art design you have done so far?
I think the cover of Jacob Bladders is my personal favourite, but it’s probably one of the least popular thing I’ve done, especially compared to the Portrait of the Artist cover that people tend to like. I just thought it would be amusing to do a cover of a graphic novel without any drawings, but I can see how this approach may be confusing.
Could you give us a brief overview of how you plan/approach a cover design?
I write down first ideas, then read and reread, let it rest for as long as possible, then return to the original ideas, change, update or replace them. I’m a very dedicated reader, so my art directors tend to trust me on getting the right tone (so far).
What is the best part about being an artist in your opinion?
Not working in an office.
When your not hard at work, is there a non-artistic hobby you like to do to let off steam?
I walk an awful lot, and I think that’s about it. My entirely life is my artistic practice, as pretentious as that sounds, so I don’t really have time off, but I spend very little time actually working–most of it is wandering around and thinking, sometimes about my life, sometimes about my work, and most of the time the two streams connect and that’s where magic happens. Everything I’ve written is autobiographical, although you’d hardly tell from the subject matter.
Have you recently read a book or article that you would recommend to me and the readers of this post?
I just finished a biography of Georges Perec, A Life in Words, and I’d recommend that, but Perec is very much my spiritual leader, so I’m more than a little biased. Joanna Walsh’s latest book is fantastic too, and I designed the cover, so here I can be accused of being biased again (but no, it truly is excellent). Right now I’m rereading a lot of Proust and Flaubert, since I’m traveling in France, and before that I really enjoyed Envy by Yuri Olesha and A School for Fools by Sasha Sokolov (those I read while I was in Russia). One of the most underrated books that came out in the recent years is Temple of Iconoclasts by Rodolfo J. Wilcock–everyone who gets Borges, Bolaño and co should read it.
Cheers for taking part today, I love celebrating great artwork and your work is superb. I look forward to seeing more of your work in the future.
Thanks for having me!
Another brilliant entry in the series. So glad that amazing artists like Roman are happy to participate and share some insights into their work! Again, I hope you are all enjoying the series and please show some appreciation for Roman’s work in the comments. I aim to have a spotlight posts ready for every week so stay tuned for plenty more spectacular book art in the coming weeks. Until next time, happy reading!