Ross Murray is a graphic designer and illustrator with many projects on the go at once, so naturally, we were keen to see what he was up to, find out how he manages to fit it all in and what he has planned next.
What do you do?
I’m an illustrator based in Mount Maunganui. I do a lot of work in both advertising and publishing plus a bit of packaging design too. I also write & draw picture books and make comics. And whenever I get the chance I like to spend time on personal work.
What did you have for breakfast?
Muesli and a cuppa.
What’s currently on your walls at home?
We’ve got a Don Binney screen print, some early prints by Karl Maughan and a beautiful painting by Kudditji Kngwarreye, the late great Aboriginal artist who was also known as ‘Rothko of the Bush’. Also a Bill Sutton print and some amazing watercolour studies of butterflies by one of my wife’s ancestors, the colonial artist John Philemon Backhouse.
If you weren’t making art/doing what you do what would you be doing?
I can’t really imagine doing anything else. Not that being an artist feels particularly useful, but if I wasn’t I’d be good for absolutely nothing!…
Just recently I got around to reading ‘Sapiens’ so I’m a bit obsessed with Yuval Noah Harari. His view of human history has such an incredible level of detachment that it seems like he’s been watching it unfold from a spaceship. But at the same time he’s got this extraordinary ability to describe it in utterly human terms. After reading him, it’s tempting to see other historians as not being able to see the wood for the trees!
Career highlight so far?
My first illustration for Rolling Stone magazine was a pretty big one for me. But my campaign for McDonald’s this summer has probably been the pick of the bunch. It evolved from a series of work I created for ‘Golden Summer’, my joint show with Greg Straight at Endemicworld last summer. As a commercial artist, spending time on personal work can sometimes feel like a bit of an indulgence so it’s especially rewarding when it leads to other opportunities. In general, I have found that personal work often has this result – the extra passion that goes into it can have an almost tangible quality and people seem to respond to that.
Dream project or collab or both?
I’d love to create a record cover for a band or artist I like – that’d be cool. I think my ultimate dream project would be to draw a comic book for Fantagraphics. They’re probably the greatest independent publisher of comics in the world and have published books by most of my favourite comic artists. One can always dream, right?
Plans for the future?
I’m currently working on an expanded book version of a webcomic I made last year called ‘Rufus Marigold’. It’s about a chimpanzee with social anxiety. It should be coming out later in 2018 which is really exciting. Another picture book is something I’m trying to find time to work on too. My last one was set in the Arctic but I’m planning to base the next one in NZ. And I’ve become a little obsessed with drawing pictures of photos of people taking photos of themselves in mirrors – not entirely sure what I’m gonna do with these!
Build your dream concert, 3 acts you wanna see live. Living or dead.
Nina Simone, The Smiths and Nirvana! I’d quite like to design the poster too…