When we first met Vahram Muratyan, we were instantly charmed by his frank manner and quiet enthusiasm. A master of observation with an eye for colour, as a graphic artist Vahram’s work captures everyday moments and transforms them into something humorous, clever and decidedly vibrant. The Smythson x Vahram collaboration combines Vahram’s distinctly playful style with our vibrant colour palette and love of all things tongue in cheek. We sat down with Vahram to try and puzzle out he’s able to distil the essence of complex ideas within one beautiful graphic.
When did you realise that you wanted to be an artist?
It was bit of a work in progress…I started drawing very early and around six or seven I began to draw on the computer using an Atari. I was really crazy about that. Little by little I though about being an architect or a calligrapher and at twelve I started working with graphic design and posters. I knew then that I could do that for a job. I use graphic design tools to create, but my work is more conceptual. I am tying to tell a story.
Why have your glasses come to symbolise you as an artist?
There are two parts to this story. It started out as an extract from one of most famous pieces about Jean-Luc Godard and Woody Allen but it also represents me. I am near sighted so when I wear my glasses my eyes appear really big, a bit like a owl (one of my favourite animals). As a child. I was ‘the kid with the glasses’.
I never use colours gratuitously. I don’t use them to enhance an illustration or make it look better; they are a huge part of the design itself. I like to simplify things and that simplicity comes from the colour or form that you get from an object. It has to do with memory, the colours that you subliminally associate with something.
What is the first thing you notice about a new city?
I always notice two things. First the people, how the behave, how they walk. It is the invisible past of these people. I also notice the signs, how directions are done in that city. I try to find things that are not found in Paris. Symbols are a simple way to speak universally.
What is the first thing you noticed about London?
London seems more crowded than Paris. It seems as if they built things not expecting that many people to come. I noticed how much sky I could see in the city. Paris seems to be much narrower in the streets. In London everything is sort of…stretched out.
A man of snap decisions, we couldn’t help but ask Vahram to weigh in on a few of our favourite paradoxes.
Book or box-set…Book
Bus or tube…Bus
Sand or snow…snow (if I can be inside)
Skydiving or spelunking…skydiving
Brunch or lunch…lunch
Pen or pencil…pencil
Shaken or stirred…shaken
Poirot or Columbo…Poirot
Images courtesy of Vahram Muratyan