“Every time I go back to Cuba, I find out something new about art, music, or literature. The culture in Cuba runs very deep and branches out in so many directions.”
We're pleased to unveil new covers for our Cuban Science Fiction series, coming out in print beginning June, 2015 with A Planet for Rent and A Legend of the Future. We wanted the covers for this series to have a unique and striking look, so we turned to acclaimed designer Edel Rodriguez. Rodriguez was born in Havana, Cuba in 1971. In 1994, he graduated with honors in painting from Pratt Institute and received a Master of Fine Arts degree in painting from Hunter College. His artwork has appeared in The New York Times, TIME Magazine, The New Yorker, and many other publications.
We spoke to Rodriguez about his early influences and inspirations in Cuba, his vision for Cuban Science Fiction, and the real-life future of his native country.
How did your childhood in Cuba shape your artistic sensibilities?
I grew up in Cuba in the 1970s surrounded by political billboards and posters. All of them made an impression on me back then and continue to do so to this day. The bold colors of the landscape, the houses, and cars definitely inform the color relationships I use in my work. I also enjoy working in unusual ways, using homemade materials and processes, some of the same things I did as a child. Back then it was due to necessity, but the instincts are still there.
How did you approach the covers for this series?
I wanted to create something that was surprising for a series of science fiction covers. A selection of images that popped out at the viewer. Some science fiction covers can be muted, subtle, and realistic. I wanted to create a series that was strong, colorful, bold, and clear.
Did you already have an awareness of Cuban SF?
I was not aware of the genre, but I’m always finding out new and unexpected things about Cuba. Every time I go back to Cuba, I find out something new about art, music, or literature. The culture in Cuba runs very deep and branches out in so many directions.
You just returned from Havana. With the political and cultural situation evolving so rapidly, what’s the mood among your friends and family? How are Cubans thinking about the future these days?
Americans tend to think that things are moving very rapidly, but most Cubans, myself included, don’t think that. They’ve lived with the system for decades and know how slow and resistant to change the politicians can be. The overall mood is a wait-and-see attitude. At any point the government can do anything to sabotage negotiations. Right now, the government propaganda is all about support for Venezuela, and they’re using that to scuttle deals with the US. Cubans are wondering why their government keeps coming up with excuses and don’t just deal with their problems in a direct way. They want to know when their alliances with other countries stop getting in the way of direct relations with the US and the rest of the world. There is some hope, but the infrastructure is such a disaster that most think it will take decades for real improvement to happen.