MIAD Designer Brings Green-Tinged Insight to Irish
By Elizabeth Altman
photo to enlarge
Murry, this yearís winner of Irish Festís poster competition, studies illustration
at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design (MIAD). With a certain natural
(or in this case most likely synthetic) artistic air about him ó as several
strands of what appeared to be slightly green hair wrestled loose from
underneath his checkered cap ó Murry discussed his experience with Irish
Fest and his future artistic interests.
Murry, who does in fact spell his last name sans "a" (perhaps the traditional
Irish has been infiltrated with his other Polish, English, and Swiss lines
of descent), designed his poster during his junior year at MIAD. Along
with fellow undergrads involved in the joint annual university and Irish
Fest competition, Murry and other junior year illustration students completed
the poster in class.
"It was basically another project," said Murry. "You spend two weeks
working on it, from concepts to the final piece. Itís about two weeks which
is not a lot of time compared to some of our other projects."
Murryís poster, which will be used for Irish Festís marketing and publicity,
depicts an Irish storefront from its side, viewed in a multitude of vibrant
green as the storeís window ledge and its bouquets of red and yellow flowering
plants recede into the background of a hazy Irish sky. Using ink and paint
for the majority of the poster, Murry has prominently displayed on the
storeís signpost the words "Irish Fest" in large white digital text, with
the festivalís location and dates on smaller signs below.
Murryís idea for this design came from his typical process of research.
Searching for examples of traditional Ireland, Murry found inspiration
from photographs of old Irish storefronts and towns, both on the Internet
and in books.
"Every time we do a project, we research a whole lot and get kind of
a feel of it, like what the sky usually looks like," said Murry. "Ireland
has sort of, from what I gather, a lot of rain or a lot of clouds, kind
of like not bright blue sky usually but more gray, hazy looking. I just
look at photos of what buildings would look like, what street lamps would
look like, what the signs would look like."
Murry also considered the client-artist relationship in working with
"This [poster] isnít exactly like normally what I do," said Murry. "Itís
different, because with the Irish Fest competition, you have to go back
and forth and get the ideas. They give you input and you try to just go
for what theyíre looking for."
For Murry, thatís the point of illustration. "You have to work with
a client and find out what they want. This was what I thought would be
appropriate," he explained.
In his art, Murry tends to gravitate towards the illustrative portraiture
of artists or musicians as featured in Rolling Stone magazine. He
also designs album covers for friendsí bands.
"With my artwork, thereís almost always people in it. Because I just
like images where you can connect with somebody in the piece or thereís
somebody there," said Murry. "It gives it more life, I think."
Although Murryís final design for this specific project was "people-less"
and different from his usual artistic style, as with other assignments,
he first brainstormed several ideas with classmates. Many originally featured
Irish dancers, musicians, or townsfolk. Creating thumbnails, or basic,
smaller sketches, were used for discussion in class,
As the process went on, Murry became more drawn to his shop sign design.
Unsure of why the poster stood out to the Irish Fest committee, Murry said,
"I guess a lot of the designs would have a musician playing guitar, a lot
seemed to be the same. This design got pursued because it was a little
bit different than all the other ones, [from other] studentsí and years
"There were a lot of designs I thought were really good and I thought
were going to win it, but itís not my decision," said Murry.
Following the thumbnails, Murry created a tight sketch, or finished
work, which included all the elements of the final print, down to the wood-grained
finish of the storefrontís large oval sign. The process culminated with
the poster's final execution and printing at the MIAD building.
Now that his poster is in its print form and has begun circulating around
the Irish Fest office, Murry says he is "definitely glad to be involved."
"Itís definitely a weird thing to be signing posters and people buying
them, but I donít know. Maybe Iíll be in a pub in Ireland and see it,"
said Murry, who may thus have an ulterior motive behind his competition-winning
"I guess some student from a while back was in Ireland and went to a
pub and saw his poster from Irish Fest hanging on the wall in a frame so
he got free drinks that whole night and thatís pretty cool," said Murry.
Originally from Oconomowoc, Murry was always interested in art. He took
numerous art classes in high school and at one time considering media school
for video editing. He now pursues drawing and painting. After trying a
bit of everything MIAD had to offer, he decided on illustration by the
end of his freshman year.
Murryís other MIAD experience includes working for The North American
Review, a literary magazine. He placed runnerup in designing a potential
cover for the magazine. He and his classmates have also worked on spot
illustrations and cover work for the entertainment section of the Dallas
Morning News, a newspaper based in Texas.
Murry, who will be graduating next spring, hopes to apply his formal
training to further magazine and poster design. He plans to stay in Milwaukee
for a time, if not for the preponderance of custard and crème puffs,
then for his freelance work with local magazines where he would illustrate
advertisements. Murry also hopes to continue working with bands on album
artwork and poster design for their shows.
As for his final thoughts on his experience with Irish Fest and this
competition, Murry believed, "Itís definitely something to remember. Itís
good to be going to school and not just be breezing through." He preferred
such important assignments because artwork is actually being used. "Youíre
not just always making a piece for the heck of it," Murry indicated.
And although Murry said there was "not really [Irish] heritage pride
in my family" he still maintained some connection as a fan of the bands
Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly. He saw the latter at Summerfest but
wisely steered clear of the mosh pit out front.
Murry will be on hand at Irish Fest to sign posters, hoping that visitors
get a feeling of "tradition but not quite traditionÖI hope it (the poster)
reflects what people get from Irish Fest...enjoying the culture that is