Roman Muradov

Roman K. Muradov is an illustrator originally from Moscow, Russia and currently living in San Francisco, California. He has a BS Engineering degree from Gunkin Russian State University of Oil and Gas (whoah) and a MFA from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco (much better). He is an instructor and Senior Lecturer at both Academy of Art University and California College of the Arts. He has a varied career of teaching, book/newspaper/magazine illustrating, graphic novel writing, award winning, and many other venues of expression that I’m sure I’m not aware of.

Muradove Vogue Muradov Knausgaard Print Muradov Lantern Sam

Muradov Wintry Mix Muradov Fence Muradov NPR Muradov Doctors

Muradov’s cover for the 2015 CC release of Day for Night is the highlight of a very strong package for this well-regarded film’s induction into the Criterion Canon. Roman is a self-professed non-movie buff but he recognized easily that this great film is all about “the process” and that certainly fits well with the mindset of an illustrator. His imagery is absolutely perfect for the tone and content of the film and that is why I voted it my favorite cover of 2015.

 769 Day for Night

Day for Night Sketch


Day for Night Orange Sketch 2 Day for Night Orange Sketch Day for Night Orange Sketch 3 Day for Night Rough Sketch

Roman Muradov:

… AD Eric [Skillman] specifically asked me to draw a meat grinder with a neat strip of film coming out. I was worried that the requested chaos would stand out among the predominantly minimalist Criterion covers, so right away I decided on a simple vibrant color scheme to unify all the imploding details.  … Logic, particularly in scale, had to be avoided. It’s not often that an Art Director asks you to draw something messy and chaotic, so I was pretty excited to see how far it can go. Of course, a balanced accidental arrangement is much harder to figure out than a sensible pattern, so it took a good deal of tweaking, rearranging and disrupting. I wrote a long list of objects and recurring motifs, grouping them by shapes and colors, as well as by their appearance in connection to the characters. For most of them I tried to approximate the feel of a half-remembered image slowly drifting in and out of focus.

Booklet Sketch

Originally I had the camera eating and defecating tape, but the Art Director said it makes no sense in terms of filmmaking. Needless to say, questions of sense are at best peripheral in my concerns, but I had to obey and cut off the tape, letting it loop through the backside, filled entirely with text. I kept the coloring much simpler than the cover, so it doesn’t compete with the text.

Booklet Sketch 2



Roman Muradov’s clients include: New Yorker, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Penguin, Random House, Vogue, Time, NPR, GQ, Washington Post, Nobrow Press, Lucky Peach, Google, Motorola, Scout Books, Chronicle Books, Plansponsor, Houghton Mifflin, Knopf (plus more Criterion, if my vote counts for anything).

For more information please see the links below under Primary Sources.


Note: This article was sourced from a short email conversation with Mr. Muradov and Internet information. Errors are those of the original articles, but editing and assumptions I take blame for.

I thank Roman for the generous access to his process post via Patreon.

Primary Sources: | Tumblr | Twitter

Connor Willumsen

Connor WillumsenConnor Willumsen is a Canadian-born artist. Originally from Calgary, Montreal is now his home base. He is a graduate of both the Calgary School of Art and the School of Visual Arts in New York City, and was a 2012-13 Fellow at The Center for Cartoon Studies. While Mr. Willumsen is well-known and well-regarded in the alternative comics world, he has also done a small number of assignments for both Marvel and DC.



Connor has done a nice batch of work for Criterion so far. Check out his work here for both Zatoichi 13 and “Something Wild” for a past All Tomorrow’s Parties.

13 Zatoichis Vengeance Something Wild ATP

Most impressive, I hope you’ll agree, are the below covers for two major titles in the mainline. Please click on each cover to be taken to a detailed site showcasing the wonderfully-disparate art for each title.

712 Scanners575 The Killing


Note: This article was completely sourced from Internet information. Errors are those of the original articles, but editing and assumptions I take blame for.

Primary Sources:

Tumblr | Connor Willumsen (.com) | The Comics Journal 

Luba Lukova

Luba Lukova is a Bulgarian-born artist, educated at the Academy of Fine Arts in Sofia, who has been living and working in the United States since 1991. She got her start in theater poster art in both Europe and the United States. Her art addresses contemporary issues and uses effective visual metaphors to convey her messages with a definite focus on social justice and political causes.

Stop Terror Social Justice Music Income Gap Graphic Guts Dialogue1 Corporate Corruption Censorship

Luba Lukova indicated to me that she feels it is this aesthetic which prompted art director Sarah Habibi to ask her to develop two impressive Criterion covers so far.

527 Secret Grain156 Hearts and Minds

Sarah Habibi wrote to Luba Lukova to provide some positive thoughts director Peter Davis had on the cover for “Hearts and Minds.”

Sarah Habibi:

This has to be one of the best emails I’ve ever gotten from a director. Congratulations. He loves your work and is thrilled….

Peter Davis:

My first glance at her work gives me the same shiver as Goya’s Cinco de Mayo, Guernica, and Maus… a stunning work I’m proud to be associated with.

From Criterion Designs, page 169:

Peter Davis’ landmark documentary is an unflinching look at the Vietnam War, giving equal weight to the effects of the conflict on the people of Vietnam and American soldiers. This bloodred cover by Luba Lukova speaks to the tragic ways in which the two sides inexorably became intertwined.

Lukova’s work resides in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Library of Congress, Washington, DC; and Bibliotheque Nationale de France.

For more information please see the links below under Primary Sources.


Note: This article was sourced from a short email conversation with Ms. Lukova and Internet information. Errors are those of the original articles, but editing and assumptions I take blame for.

Primary Sources:

Design Indaba | Facebook | Clay & Gold | Luba Lukova Studio

Ron Lesser

Ron Lesser has painted a lot of pictures. In the heyday of his most overtly commercial work, he painted thousands of movie posters, paperbacks, and advertisements. He’s still around, still prolific, but more focused on history, animals, sports figures, etc.

His style is very familiar to those of us a certain age and of certain proclivities, be they 70s American Cinema

PapillonHigh Plains DrifterZardozLolly Madonna War

or naughty, cheap paperbacks that promised a heck of a lot more than you actually got on the inside.

Barely SeenQuick Red FoxHearse Class MaleThe Golden Kiss

So when it came time for Criterion to release The Fugitive Kind, it surely seemed a good idea to recreate the feel of an old lurid paperback (complete with creased cover) with the look of those fantastic old posters.

FKPaperback +Pat Garrett Billy Kid = 515_box_348x490_original

Working with Eric Skillman and Sarah Habibi, Mr. Lesser has created a cover that deftly captures the luridness of Tennessee Williams and the stoicism of Lesser’s poster subjects. In the past, I’ve just sort of given this cover cursory glances, but now I see a very nice piece of art that pulls the history of its various forms together in one impressive Criterion cover.



Note: This article was completely sourced from Internet information. Errors are those of the original articles, but editing and assumptions I take blame for.

Primary Sources:

Art By Ron Lesser | Paths of History | Tumblr 

Criterion Design

When the Criterion Designs book came out in late 2014, I was ecstatic at the idea of a beautiful book that CCDesignshowcases some of the best graphic artists I’ve ever encountered. Since Criterion really started taking cover art seriously over a decade ago, they have really upped the game on what a disc package can and should be. There are other boutique labels out there that are now following Criterion’s lead on this, but our CC still is first and best to the party.

The book is a stupendous work of art in itself. Clean and inviting, with a layout that encourages a lot of revisiting to see what you may have missed the first 38 times you looked at a cover. At 300 pages and 5 pounds, it is both an encyclopedic history and not nearly enough pictures for a true fan. All of the greatest visuals we think of are here, but I would have loved to have read more about the early, less attractive covers that were their bread and butter for years.

 :: kogonada

Over time on The Completion, this category will focus on different artists and designers that have worked lovingly on these packages of art. Many of us are very proud to have these discs on our shelves and the art and design is a very big reason why. Until then, click on these covers to take you to the blogs of four of the better known artists working with Criterion today.


Eric Skillman


F. Ron Miller


Caitlin Kuhwald


Jason Hardy