I may or may not have written about illustrator and artist Roman Muradov on my blog before. Anyway I first came across his work last year, I can’t recall exactly where but since I am an avid New Yorker reader, I have seen his illustrations have come up time and time again in the magazine, rarely failing to delight and occasionally perplex. A gorgeous blend of Cubism with Kandinsky and some Miro thrown in, his work is visually a joy to behold. I shelled out some money to buy a print from him (‘9 Writers’) last year and when I came across his Kickstarter project, to fund his latest ‘zine, I jumped at the opportunity. I’ve never funded anything on Kickstarter before so it was an interesting experience. $25 US didn’t seem like a huge amount of money for some original doodles from one of my very favourite artists.
And now, finally, it’s here – a slim package mailed through my front door yesterday morning caught me off-guard. It was raining incessantly, so the envelope went into my backpack and was clumsily slit open by tremulous, excited fingers while I was esconced in a warm, dry cafe.
So there was at least one postcard, two cut-outs of original work (one in ink and the other a mere rough sketch in pencil), a whimsical graphic short story called “Fountains and Russian Men”, one of the more coherent (but still surreal) pieces from the mysterious Mr. Muradov. And there was a delightful booklet of illustrations based on Italo Calvino’s “If On A Winter’s Night A Traveller”, a book that I read many years ago and have since forgotten. Receiving this in the post has inspired me to re-read it, since I was just savouring Calvino’s “Difficult Loves” a few weeks back.
Of course the centrepiece was “Yellow Zine issue 6” which was a collection of little stories, all drawn in his characteristically elegant, elliptical style. While one can often barely make sense of many of the stories, I don’t think making sense of them is really the point. I am just content to relish the artwork, seemingly simple flourishes but so incredibly difficult to do well.
Which brings me to the idea of Kickstarter, where one can find funds for printing a large consignment of books by taking pledges from the general public. It’s another way of fundraising on the web, except that I suspect one has to have some credibility and a fan base to start with to get the first 1000 dollars or so. This is another reason I will probably always self-finance my own publications… they are only small print runs and I can easily afford them, I don’t want the pressure of having to meet anyone’s expectations! However, they are a great idea for projects like these, and of course when you’re someone with a reputation, raising funds can be like shooting fish in a barrel, no? For those of us across the pond, a Kickstarter project like this was really the easiest way to get ahold of some original art.
There was also this lovely pamphlet with the artist’s illustrations based on the quirky chapter headings taken from the book. It has certainly inspired me to look into the book again, which will be a pleasure since I am a fan of Italo Calvino’s writings anyway.
Each page is stunning to behold, the compositions are gorgeous. This may well be one of my favourite pieces of art from this collection.
And last but not least, a little piece of original art, an ink drawing from the master himself. It’s a little too small to frame but will always be cherished! And yes, so true…. all one can do is just to try and make ‘decent things’ and learn not to be bitter.
Please go on making decent things, Mr. Muradov.