William James Murray. Not since David Bowie have illustrators been so fascinated by one man’s face. One thing the two hold in common is the variety of characters that they have portrayed while remaining recognisably themselves. And why stop there? The illustrators in this publication have imagined Bill Murray as characters beyond his acting CV (Original Gangster; Punk; Yoda).
The Art of Being Bill found its origins in The Murray Affair: a touring exhibition of Bill Murray portraits curated by Ezra Croft. Collaborating with writer Jennifer Raiser, this publication has a lot of heart, and is bursting with Murray trivia. The golfing jumper patterned endpapers are a nice touch.
The writing at times is overly florid, with heavy-handed puns and alliteration. It is a great book to dip into, rather than to read in one sitting. The artists are given the opportunity to share the inspiration for their creations, in a section hidden away at the back of the publication. It is a delight to read in these brief paragraphs, often amusing and personal, how passionate they are about Bill Murray and his films.
The Art of Being Bill is an inspiring, if not exhaustive compilation of portraits and film summaries. Mercifully no mention of Garfield, but sadly no write-up on Coffee & Cigarettes or Charlie’s Angels (laugh if you will, but remember he uses his teeth to carve a gun out of a giant piece of soap in that one). The book is an obvious hit for owners of that other Murray-themed book, Belly Kids’ Thrill Murray, but with an entirely fresh list of artists.
The quality of work in The Art of Being Bill is high. Particular favourites include Groundhog Day by Post Typography, Murray Matches by Mike Bell, Venkman by Ryan Gajda and the two exquisite paintings by Thorsten Schmitt.
The Art of Being Bill is released by Race Point Publishing this week: https://www.foyles.co.uk/witem/film-tv-drama/the-art-of-being-bill-bill-murray,ezra-croft-jennifer-raiser-9781631064555
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