The Sound of a Migrane

In the summer of 2011 I have met Mihail Pogarsky, a man who is hugely involved in the Russian Artist Book art scene. He organizes annual Artist Book Fairs in Moscow, publishes a magazine on the subject, initiates a variety of international book projects and creates beautiful books himself. Over coffee we’ve discussed many aspects of what we do and what’s happening in the book art world in Russia and USA. Several months later I have received an email from him asking me if I would be interested in participating in a project that he is curating entitled Music of the Book. 12 artists from Russia and 12 from Germany and Austria were involved. This was designed to be a multidisciplinary project between Artist’s Book and multimedia. The books that were to be created would be part of an international traveling exhibition. Bellow is my entry.

Sound of Migrane book

The brief was to create a one or two spread book that will reflect visually a certain piece of music, sound, noise, etc. I initially wanted to take a piece of music for the interpretation (Gavin Bryar’s Jesus Blood Never Failed Me Yet, for an example). Then an idea came to use a sound that is not a sound at all. To visualize something that we all hear sometimes inside of us, but that can not be projected or recorded. So here are the process stages of The Sound of a Migraine:

I wanted to use the image of the rats scraping away at something. I “borrowed” the rat linocut image from a piece that I have done last year for a story by Adgar Allan Poe. The choosing of the background followed.

This was going to be a collage. I wanted to actually cut out the “pounding headache noise”.

Zimakov collage

After a while, the studio desk was filled with x-acto knives, ink, prints, chipboard and paper.

Zimakov studio

In addition to the cut-out red “sounds”, I made a rubber stamp that would be stamped in black over the final inside spread.


The cover image would serve as an introduction to what’s inside. Prints and cutouts were mounted onto a chipboard.

book cover

This book was an edition of two. Both copies were sent to Mihail in Russia. So far they have been exhibited at the Central House for the Artist in Moscow and the Tretyakov State Gallery, among other places. Germany is next,  so you might catch them floating around Europe at some point! Check out more about the concept and see other artists’ submissions here.

56 thoughts on “The Sound of a Migrane

  1. Wow — amazingly cool work. I love the title “The sound of a migraine” — for anyone who has had one, there truly is a “sound” that is related to that particular brand of excruciating pain! 😦

  2. Beautiful! I love book art, its not too often either to see it blogged about even less frequent is the opportunity to see book art in the flesh. Artists books and sketchbooks are so often richer and more expressive of emotion than finished pieces. What i do is kind of book art, but mine is more filling the book and publishing the contents, rather than the actual thing being the piece, which come to think of it i suppose it is! But anyway ill stop rambling.
    Love the post!

  3. As a migraine sufferer, I love this topic! It’s hard to communicate what it is like, but I do actually hear noise in my head with my migraines.

    By the way, “migraine” is misspelled in the title of your post.

  4. This is interesting. As someone who suffers from migraines often (I assume you do?), I have a hard time describing to others the noise in my head. It’s like your heartbeat has gone berserk. What a neat way to share with others the misery inside migraine. It’s not beautiful, though your work certainly is. What a really cool concept. Congrats on being freshly pressed.

  5. Gorgeous imagery. I love the juxtaposition of creating a visual work to convey sound. Your image is spot on. Congrats on being freshly pressed…but more over, congrats on a beautiful and thought provoking project!

  6. I don’t always read the freshly pressed things but caught sight of the lino cuts from the corner of my eye. I love this and am just recovering from a migraine so its apt! Congratulations on being freshly pressed!

  7. I love what you did! And I can relate to the title “The Sound of a Migraine” having suffered from it a long time. Thank goodness, that’s all gone now!

  8. A very interesting piece (both the blog entry and the illustrations). Gnawed by rats and flashing, swirling light and dark most certainly portray the sense of a migraine. Great stuff. Did you enjoy doing it? 🙂

  9. Great Art work which depicts a migraine quite well actually.
    Honestly I have never heard of an Artist books in the past, but now that I know I will definitely look out for them 😉

    great post congrats on being freshly pressed


    How To Be A DJ

  10. bold, visually arresting image. It really grabbed at me, made me stop, and think about what I was seeing and the connection between the meaning in my head and the meaning of the words…the work of art.

  11. As a very long time migraine sufferer I had never really thought about the sound of one, but it does have a sound that often blocks out other sounds so I can’t hear as well as I normally do.

    Thanks for this.

  12. What a creative process going on here! Looks like so much fun to do something like this. It’s so neat to be able to see how you worked this through, to some degree, rather than just seeing the finished product.

    I suffered from migraines for nearly 25 years. Then, miraculously, they went away. I don’t even get headaches anymore! What a miracle for me! That “pounding heartbeat in your head” is something I will never forget. That sound is bad enough, but not being able to escape it in any way is the real torture. I think you’ve depicted that quite well.

  13. Rats gnawing …. little shards of pain piercing your brain and forming a vortex of swirling lights. You have captured the essence of a migraine. Mercifully I no longer have them. But for a couple of years I did … the pain and the visual flashes are sheer torture. Well done!

  14. Wonderful piece of work. I wish I could see the real thing. And thanks for linking to the rest of the entries so they could be seen, too.

  15. Fantastic! I get migraines all the time, and while the image of rats usually doesn’t come to mind, the red and black gashes are dead on. Beautiful work!

  16. It’s amazing, and I like the idea of a sound that isn’t a sound. It’s funny cause I had my first class of linogravure today and your post was the first thing I saw the minute I got home… It’s incredibly inspiring, thank you!

  17. Oh, this is so amazing! You know how sometimes you see things that you had not even thought about before, and when you see them it is like another light lit up and you are now able to consider possibilities that weren’t accessible to you before. Thank you for posting this and adding the beautiful pictures of your work. I have now some extra inspiration for my more humble art works.


  18. Love your work–just beautiful. I don’t know anything about migraines, but I enjoyed seeing the process of you creation. So old school! The typography seems perfect. Good luck in the contest.

  19. Pingback: Голос мигрени – внутренний голос | МИР ТВОРЕНИЯ/ mir& Знаки…

  20. Pingback: The Sound of a Migrane « Ultra Sounds: An Online Forum for Creative Exploration of the Cancer Experience

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s